Ricardo "Ricky" Luna became a WAEF student in 2014 following his graduation from A.C. Davis High School in Yakima. Like many students, his potential career path took many turns as he sought a way to make a difference to underrepresented populations. This mattered to him as he sees himself as someone who could have fallen through the cracks if others hadn't reached out and provided him with positive role models.
Human resources surfaced as an idea after attending the WAEF Career Tour in December 2016. This tour took us to Allan Brothers and he got the chance to meet Allan Brothers HR manager Juan Gaytan. As Juan shared about his job and the role of human resources in companies, Ricky noticed a lot of similarities with his role of VP of recruitment for his multicultural fraternity at WSU. In this role, Ricky recruited the best people to fulfill the mission of his fraternity and enjoyed seeing people succeed in their roles.
Ricky shared he is grateful for this opportunity to work in the 'real world'. It's been eye-opening with 12 to 14-hour days and long work weeks. He loves the fast pace that's always changing and appreciates that employees come first, "when an employee comes to the window with an issue, you stop what you're doing and help them."
This experience has also shown him that WAEF staff and volunteers do truly care and are serious when they offer assistance. He believes that he got his summer job because he was able to stand out through his personal connection created through the WAEF career tour.
Ricky's advice for students: "Don't waste the summer - do something that matters for your future. Take advantage of the opportunities WAEF provides you to learn more about possible careers and develop your network."
Juan, too, stressed how important it is for students to reach out and follow through. Without that personal connection, it's difficult to 'stick'. He also shared other ways Ricky stood out in the application process including his extra-curricular involvement that reinforced his career interests and professionally presenting himself for the interview.
Juan sees his job in HR as a chance to give back and develop leaders within the company, "We're not just filling positions. We are looking to help those that want to better themselves and need some guidance to develop as leaders."
Juan's own education path was inspired by his mom who completed her GED while working in the fields. He is the oldest of the four siblings and has always been the "go to guy" paving the way for others. He really appreciates the employee relations side of his job and the impact he can make.
While at Allan Brothers, we also got to catch up with WAEF graduate Luz Silva. Luz began her career with the company as a summer intern three years ago. She returned annually and her responsibilities increased each summer. She graduated from Eastern Washington University this year and had a job waiting for her. She shared as her peers were worrying about finding a job while taking finals, she could confidently complete her classes knowing what the immediate future held for her. She hit the ground running following graduation and is now actively working with the company's H2A program.
WAEF students go through a rigorous application process. Less than a quarter of the students that begin the application are selected. To renew awards, students submit a renewal application, go through a telephone interview and follow up at the close of the spring term with their transcripts. Throughout the year, they are provided with information through workshops, career tours, newsletter and personal outreach to help them be prepared to land and succeed at their first career jobs.
We have a highly qualified pool of talent! Though few students start out with WAEF planning for a career in ag, they learn a lot about the opportunities and get to meet the amazing people that are part of the industry. It's a driven group - perfect for Washington's World Class Tree Fruit Industry!