Authored by a brave soul in the insurance industry
I entered the insurance industry at around 17 years old. At the time, I was a young, bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and fresh out of high school Puerto Rican girl that thought she was ready for the world. Most of my friends were still working fast food and retail jobs, so I was beyond excited to score a role as a mail room / file room clerk at a small local commercial insurance MGA – so professional!
The file room shared an open floor plan with the brokerage department. These were the heavy weights of the company who were closing 6-figure premium commercial property policies and I quickly decided that THIS is where I would one day belong… and I made it clear to anyone who would listen that I wanted to be a wholesale broker one day.
During my first 6 months, I listened to everything that team said and did, and asked many questions about their work. There was one woman in particular that I admired – she was polished, lived in a posh neighborhood, drove a red convertible BMW… she was a beast! We’ll call her “Posh”.
“Posh” was in her 50’s, blond, a New Yorker, and 100% boss. I was nothing but kind and helpful to her, because I literally wanted to learn everything I could from her… but she barely ever looked at me when I would deliver mail and files to her desk. I did have the cooperation from other brokers, thankfully, and learned so much in those first 6 months that I was offered a promotion to be an Account Service Representative (ASR/CSR) and Receptionist.
On my very first day at the reception desk, “Posh” and another coworker were walking past the front desk where I sat. They mumbled “Good Morning” as they walked past me, and I immediately overheard “Posh” say to her friend “great, what is this now, Ghetto Underwriters?” – they both giggled on their way to grab their morning coffee.
All of the feelings of “not enoughness” and not belonging found a new home in the work compartment of my mind.
My heart sank. So many thoughts ran through my head and anxiety filled my body. How stupid was I to think I could ever be in the ranks with the likes of her? All of the feelings of “not enoughness” and not belonging found a new home in the work compartment of my mind.
What’s crazier is that because I was young, and Puerto Rican, and not a college graduate… and not white… I never told my bosses or anyone “higher up” about it.
When you come from the background I come from, you sort of just know that you’re stereotyped, and I chalked it up to being something I would have to learn to accept as a WOC in the corporate world.
When you come from the background I come from, you sort of just know that you’re stereotyped, and I chalked it up to being something I would have to learn to accept as a WOC in the corporate world. I went on to continue rising through the ranks and building a good career in insurance, and while that was my first experience of workplace abuse/trauma it certainly wasn’t my last. However, I will always remember that moment as the moment imposter syndrome seeds found fertile soil in my head.
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