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December 11, 2015

Cynthia Flores with her supervisors

Situated behind another outlet mall next to the fence separating the United States and Mexico, the new San Diego Outlets at the Border (opened October 2014) is not immediately obvious from the main road. Once you find it, however, you realize this small but mighty new establishment not only has great retail spaces, it also has a lot of great stories.

One of them is intern Cynthia Flores.

Cynthia has been attending San Diego City College, where she is involved with Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and studies business. She heard about CONNECT2Careers (C2C) from her English professor Christy Ball, who emphasized the importance of signing up for internships before finishing college.

Cynthia took Professor Ball’s advice seriously. “If it wasn’t for her,” said Cynthia, “I would never know about [C2C].”

She soon contacted C2C, where its work-readiness workshop on résumé and interview prep immediately piqued her interest in gaining internship experience. Program Coordinator Ernesto Rivera guided Cynthia through the internship process, including general advice, internship matching, employer contact and more.

“He was so helpful and kind,” Cynthia said.

Placed in a paid six-week internship, sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric, at the San Diego Outlets at the Border, Cynthia spent six weeks developing marketing collateral; being mentored by the marketing management team; building her professional network in the international retail/tourism industry; assisting with customer service, events and marketing initiatives; and learned about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a retail establishment, including property management. She also helped with the planning and development of communication efforts and developing public relations strategies to influence public opinion or promote ideas, products and services.

In addition to an interest in business, Cynthia also has retail experience, making her six-week internship with San Diego Outlets at the Border a perfect fit.

Cynthia’s supervisor Melissa Adams has nothing but praise for her. “She is extremely proactive and helps out whenever she sees a need,” Melissa said. “Halloween is a huge day for us where we dress up and greet families. One of our colleagues had a family emergency that day and Cynthia jumped right in, taking over and worked all day and didn’t get a chance to celebrate Halloween herself.”

The respect is mutual. “This internship has definitely changed my life; it has expanded my horizons, relationships and goals,” said Cynthia. “I thank Melissa for being my mentor and teaching me everything about property management. She is my role model and I will always be thankful for her mentoring. I could not have a better role model than her.
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Cynthia also thanks colleague Andres Ripa for teaching her about marketing, and “for being tough on me and making me push harder.”

The management team at San Diego Outlets at the Border was so impressed with Cynthia and she was offered a permanent position on the team shortly after the end of her internship.

The people most influential for Cynthia remain her parents, who own a shoe business in Tijuana, where they reside. She talks about her parents with emotion, emphasizing the values they instilled in her. “They taught me customer service and humility,” she shared. “They showed me how being humble can open doors.”

Cynthia’s own humility is clear, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have big goals. Cynthia plans to transfer to San Diego State University for her Bachelor’s degree in business administration, as she is interested in learning more about management in the corporate fashion industry, hoping to become a CEO one day. She highly recommends C2C for young people looking for work experience, and adds, “Listen to your teachers!”

For more information on how to participate in C2C’s opportunities as a job seeker or employer, please contact StephenColon@workforce.org or ErnestoR@workforce.org.

Photo by Wilda Wong

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