Mar 27 2017

“ From Military Boots to High Heels” by Sandy Hernandez

Where it all began:

My two brothers and I are first-generation in the United States. I have the most wonderful mother, who raised us through hard work and dedication.  I am the oldest child, and that has always given me more responsibilities as a role model for my brothers and has built a strong relationship between my mother and I. 

I was in my senior year of high school which meant I had to start applying for college, scholarships, and financial aid. I did not apply for any of these because I could not stop thinking about the military.  Ever since I was a child I would watch movies or documentaries about the few, the proud, the Marines.  I did not contact a recruiter, but during one of our high school career fairs a Marine Corps recruiter came to our school.  After talking to Staff Sergeant Salvatierra for about five minutes, I made my decision.  I decided to join the Marine Corps because of the rigorous training I would have to endure to earn the title “Marine” but most importantly I wanted to make a difference in myself, my family, and to our country.  I took the oath to serve four years in the Marine Corps, to serve my country through honor, courage, and commitment.

On July 8, 2012 I was on a plane to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. I was 18 years old and had just graduated high school a few weeks prior, and now here I was on my way to boot camp. 

As my military contract was coming to an end I began searching for jobs, and although transitioning back into the civilian workforce was going to be difficult; I had a strong sense of what I was looking for.

I wanted to work somewhere that demanded structure, discipline, and provided challenges where I could use the skill sets that I obtained throughout my time in the military. After doing online research, I came across the Website of CBS Corporation, and I was excited to see that there is a section for veterans that provides great resources.  I applied online for a summer internship, after a series of interviews I was offered a position as an intern with the Strategic Sourcing department, through the Veterans internship program.

After honorably serving four years in the Marine Corps, my contract ended on June 1, 2016, and I started interning at CBS a few days later.

At this point not only was I the first in my family to join the military, but I was now also the first in my family to work in Corporate America. At first I felt that I wasn’t going to fit in and I was very nervous in that moment, but at the same time I was extremely grateful for this opportunity.   

All of these fears quickly disappeared because of the leaders within CBS Corporation.

Everyone around me developed an interest in my newly started career, and helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses.  I never imagined myself working for CBS or being surrounded by this many people who genuinely cared to help me.

I think back to very specific moments in my life that made me feel that I would never go to college and that I would simply be another statistic of a minority in the United States. I clearly remember a moment in 5th grade, I was sitting in class paying attention to the lecture the teacher was giving us.  I will never forget what she said that day as she spoke to us about college, “Statistics show that if your parents did not go college, your chance of attending college are little to none.”  I went home that day and I told my mom what the teacher said, my mom responded, “You can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it.”  My mom was right, and these words continue to motivate me every day as an intern at CBS.

My summer internship was scheduled for 6 weeks, but the department I was working for (Strategic Sourcing) saw that there was potential in me and they decided to extend my internship to continue helping me shape my career. Now that my internship was extended, Strategic Sourcing continued to present me with different projects that gradually became more challenging and in turn helped me step out of my comfort zone.

I was with Strategic Sourcing for a total of 7 months until I was offered an internship with the Corporate Diversity & Inclusion department. Strategic Sourcing prepared me for this next position because by now I developed multiple relationships within CBS and I knew that whatever my next department would demand of me, I was confident that I would be able to accomplish the task or at least I knew who I could ask for help.

I have been with CBS for 9 months now while also being a full-time college student. The knowledge and experience I have gained as an intern is helping me earn my degree because almost everything I have covered in class, I have already been introduced to.

I am currently an intern for the Corporate Diversity & Inclusion department which has been an eye opening experience for me. Being in Diversity & Inclusion allows me to help make a difference every day because we are working to create the most diverse and inclusive workforce possible here at CBS.  It has been rewarding to work on employee events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, our North Hollywood High School and CBS Diversity Council Partnership where we speak to the students about the many opportunities that exist in the Entertainment industry, as well as working with our employee resource groups like the Veterans Network and ANGLE. 

My experience as a Marine prepared me for the civilian work force, but CBS changed my life because of the opportunity and experience that I will always take with me.

Half a million veterans are currently unemployed, but thanks to the veteran internship program of CBS Corporation, I am one less unemployed veteran.