Perseverance Pays Off

L. Virginia Martinez, IRT ’21

I will preface by saying that this is my experience and my journey, and everyone will have their own set of challenges and good and bad moments. While this journey was very long and often resulted in many tears, it was one of my most rewarding journeys. I joined IRT during my first gap year while an AmeriCorps Fellow. If I didn’t join in 2021, my gap year might extend more than two years.

My Journey

After my service year ended in July, I applied for my first “big girl job’, and I got it. While I thought this would be the most exciting time of my career, I was sadly mistaken. There is a long list of things that were red flags, even from my first day there. I had a weird feeling in my stomach on my first day, but I figured it was jitters, the rainy weather, or a mix of anxiety and excitement to have my first real job. Months later, I realized my instincts were trying to warn me. Shortly after I started, I was miserable, overworked, underrepresented, and depressed. I didn’t have much support at the job, except for three co-workers who I still communicate with. (Spoiler: I left after three months). I couldn’t take any PTO until my third month working there —I had to bill a certain number of units per week, I drove over 2k miles in my short time there, and I was frequently vocal about the lack of diversity in the organization and how my position as one of the few women of color there affected me.

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