When I moved from the Philippines to Utah, the culture shock was real. There wasn’t much diversity — many people thought I was a Latina and spoke Spanish.
Finding a job was intimidating. My English wasn’t strong and I wasn’t sure where to start. My first experience was applying as a teacher’s assistant at a local school. But when I asked for the application, they assumed I was there for a janitor position. I was given the application and left crying.
About a month later, I was hired by Visa in a customer support role. I worked hard to learn the software and support our clients, while trying to adapt to my new life.
Five years later, a position opened in our sales organization. I was intimidated by the thought of moving to a new department, because I didn’t think I had the experience or traits they were looking for, but a few of my team members encouraged me to interview for the role. I was hired on the spot. Out of a dozen candidates, I was the only woman who applied. My new manager became my mentor, inviting me to meetings and conferences to give me exposure to other parts of the company.
A couple of years later, he left for a tech start-up and recruited me as a program manager. I saw this as an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. After nearly 10 years with Visa, I left for a new role with fewer benefits, a big title change and a $30,000 salary increase.
I began to enjoy this new chapter, but I couldn’t help but notice the lack of diversity. And, while I was paid well, others were being laid off. Plus, I felt as though people didn’t like me, as if I was an outsider who swooped in and stole a position.
Initially, I chalked this all up to start-up growing pains, but things didn’t get better. While I was still adapting to the new company, my manager at Visa reached out and said the company was posting for my old position. I realized I was making a lot of money, but had no friends and just wasn’t happy. Period. I told my manager I wanted to return to Visa, even for less pay. And I did.
The first day back, I felt I was back home. I set a few lofty goals and started thinking beyond my job description. I started reporting to a different manager who challenged me. A year later, I was given a program manager role and am now part of the strategy and program management team for Visa’s technology partnerships.
People ask me if I ever regret leaving Visa. I don’t, because I learned so much while I was gone. I went back to Visa with my previous title and pay, but a new perspective.
Sometimes you won’t make the right career move — but it doesn’t have to define you. In the end, my risk did pay off.