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Fashion and interior designer, flight attendant, growth manager: Yunuen’s offbeat career

Have you ever looked back in your career and felt guilty? Many of us who have experimented with different professional fields have moments of utter overwhelm, in which we believe we’re lost, incapable of commitment or “crazy” for not settling for one topic. But what if that courage to change were your competitive advantage? I want to introduce you to Yunuen today. Yunuen studied fashion, worked in interior design and as a flight attendant, and has recently joined the startup world, where her brave multifaceted nature got her hired. She continues to invest in her sports abilities and planning writing projects on the side. What I love about Yunuen is her resilience, willingness to adapt when things aren’t going according to plan, and strength to start again.

Welcome to Offbeat Career‘s interview series, where I bring in professionals with multifaceted, unusual careers. They’ve worn multiple hats, lived multiple lives…and do so unapologetically!

Hola, Yunuen! Welcome to Offbeat Careers and thank you for agreeing to give some of your time to this project! It’s a huge honor to host you. Your diverse, multifaceted path is exciting. In fact, the titles I’ve included in this article’s headline are only some examples of your complex journey, definitely not everything you’ve done! 🔥 Were these industry changes a coincidence as you were “going with the flow”, or were they intentional? Or perhaps something between these two?

Hi Maria, thank you for having me! I‘m so happy someone is opening the conversation about offbeat careers, usually I felt I was the only weirdo without a “perfect” 10-year finance career.

About my path…I would say it’s a mix. At the moment when I decided all these changes, they were intentional, but to be fair never thinking about a “career” – more about what I wanted in life in general.

I tried interior design because I wanted to live somewhere else in Mexico, flight attendant because I wanted to see the world, and Growth Manager…I would say was my first intentional decision towards building a career which at the end happens to be really diverse, because working in a small startup means doing whatever is needed in the moment for the startup to keep up.

A lot of the insecurities that come with a colorful career stem from the fact that our story seems to have no reason, no rhyme. Everything seems random, disconnected, out of control. But in retrospect, we often discover that there are some “a-ha themes”, some common threads and topics that make total sense in our experience. What do you think?

That’s true! This tends to cause a feeling of guilt, because we are supposed to know why we are choosing everything the moment we choose it! But once I heard someone said, “everything you learn is useful, you just have to wait and see” and that is so true!

For me those common threads were something I could see until just recently, when my boss decided to hire me. She was clear about how important it is for her to hire someone for their attitude in life and not only their knowledge, and that made me feel so proud of my path for the first time.

With this in mind, I would answer courage has always been a common in my life, open communication with the most different people, passion for understanding what motivates them and last but not least a mind that always tries to improve processes in order to have a better life.

Apart from these interesting fields you’ve worked in, you also have a bachelor’s degree in Design and Fashion Industry, which I find fascinating! What was that experience like? Do you carry some of that knowledge and lessons learned with you nowadays? Can you give some examples?

Yes! Haha, dear fashion 💓 It will always have a place in my heart. I think I learned to appreciate processes, how important it is to be mindful about them and to look at the details, which mostly makes a huge difference. Details are so important.

I learned as well to value the work of others. When I did a formal male shirt and it took me hours to get all the pieces together, I realized every work has huge value, it doesn’t matter if we see it or not. So, I try to be grateful with the people around me who do “invisible jobs” which impact our life hugely.

You also completed a hybrid orientation program called MINT-Grün with the Technical University of Berlin: the title is code for Mathematics, Computer Science (Informatik), Natural Sciences and Technology. Right here, we can see how multipotentialites are often lovers of both design and science; both fashion and computer science; both interior design and technology. What role has this education played in your wider career, especially when coupled with your degree in fashion?

Yes, well this MINT-grün program was actually my way to get in a German university and try to see if I really wanted to study in German. I was just finished with my C1 German level and I gave it a try.  I realized Informatics wasn’t really for me, found I really liked to know more about gender studies topics and decided to apply to a new Bachelor in digital business and other in sustainable management. Right now I’m still waiting to know if I´ll be accepted.

Oh, that makes sense (and congrats on your C1 level)! I wish educational systems around the world incorporated more of these opportunities to explore what we love (or don’t) before making big choices. From Interior Designer Assistant to Senior Process Analyst, and then Flight Attendant…at Emirates! And now a Growth Manager! Wow. Lots of powerful roles in one go. 👑 What were some challenges you’ve faced as you made these transitions? What role was the most difficult to adapt to in your experience?

I think every role came with a challenge, in a different measure. To work in interior design, I moved for the second time inside Mexico to a different city and that was interesting! I was really excited to live by the beach in Los Cabos. At the end, I wasn’t really enjoying it even though I loved what I was doing and my boss was an amazing leader – the city just didn’t feel right for me.

When I was in process analysis, I got to meet a group of my closest friends in Guadalajara, I learned a lot about getting used to different teams, and working for international clients and colleagues. Getting to know all these new people was amazing! Our client was from the USA and my colleagues were from India. If before I already knew I wanted to travel the world, this provoked an even major impulse for me to decide and look for a different job.

Now that you made me think more about it, Emirates was definitely the biggest challenge until then…moving from Mexico to Dubai, starting in a new different professional world which I had no idea from and all of this alone, thousands of kilometers away from anything I knew was a difficult experience that came with a price.

Does your multifaceted personality reveal itself in other ways apart from your career? For example, do you have any random hobbies or interests that show how your brain just can’t sit still? 😂

Hahaha my friends always laugh when I say I´m doing something new, because I just like to experiment and see what it’s like to do different things.

In terms of sports, I’ve practiced Volleyball for a long time, now I’ve gotten into trying Badminton, Squash, Yoga and I’m looking forward to winter semester in the university to decide what I’m going to take, I would like to do Acro Yoga with my partner and maybe Bouldering.

From other interests, well… I love visiting museums and galleries, classical music, cinema, I would love to take some architectural photography courses too. I love writing, 2 years ago I was writing a series called “Mom, I Want to Know the World” telling my experience about becoming a flight attendant. So far, it’s only in Spanish and it was originally just published in a Facebook group for female Mexicans around the world. Now, I’m working on creating my blog about this history.

And well…I constantly see groups, topics or experiences I would love to be part of, but 24hrs a day are not enough haha! 😄

I noticed on LinkedIn that you get actively involved with a lot of Women in Tech events, supporting female professionals and promoting not only female funding opportunities, but also interesting talks by women researchers and speakers around the world. How would you say being a woman (and a Mexican woman) has impacted your journey so far, and has it been noticeable in some professional fields more than others?

Oh yes! Right now, I’m so excited to get more involved in the startup world, full of female founders, innovation, amazing and inspiring women I didn’t get to know as I was growing up!

And well, being Mexican made a difference in me growing up. I notice now a lot the influence of my culture in thinking that women are made to get married, have kids and be an amazing mother and wife, but you didn’t use to see many intelligent discussions happening between women, those are supposed to be left for men, at least until growing up I only saw that. The women in television were the ones looking amazing and being kind and the guys were the smart ones.

But I’m happy that this situation is changing and more women in Mexico are now strong voices in politics, science and other important areas.

Let’s talk about future plans. What upcoming adventures, interests or hobbies do you have in mind that you’d like to explore? Are there any other degrees or work experiences you’d like to have in the future (not necessarily jobs but also volunteering, etc)? 

Well first of all keep on studying, I’m really excited to see which university I will be staying in and which of both careers I will follow.

Apart from that, DigiWhat, the startup I’m working for is growing and it is so exciting for me to be so close to Claudia, the CEO and founder because I get to see how everything is evolving and she is just an amazing human being! I’m able to learn a lot of her about being a leader and I can’t wait to see how we keep on growing. On other topics, I’m excited about my new blog, I love writing and I think it will be fun and I’ll learn a lot in the process.

There’s a lot other topics I would love to be involved in, but I realized for me is better to concentrate on a couple of topics at once and then move forward when I’m experienced enough and can manage the actual challenges I’m facing.

What would you tell someone like you, who has many different interests, loves getting involved with different industries, but feels lost or underappreciated because society seems to pressure us to stick to a linear path?

Trust your gut feeling, be super honest with yourself… even if your decision is confusing to others. If it makes sense to you, GO FOR IT! Understand that society might be hard on you for not having a 10-year finance career, but you being harder on yourself is what normally is stopping you from evolving. And well, because I love quotes I would like to share my personal favorite: “In order to fly you have to let yourself fall”.

Thanks for your amazing interview, Maria, I wish you all the success with this new adventure! I’m sure you’ll get a lot of satisfaction from it, thanks for giving the people like me with colorful careers the chance to speak about our diverse and fun world.

Follow Yunuen’s adventures: