NextGen Collective recently spotlighted Social Con Cultura founder Madeline McKnight. Read about how her abuelitos inspired her, her favorite causes, and more.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from El Salvador. I was raised on the outskirts of Washington, DC.
What do you do today and where do you want to go in your career?
I’m a social media manager, consultant, and content creator. I began my career as a paralegal but transitioned into social media marketing about seven years ago. About two years ago, I opened up my online business, Social Con Cultura, servicing Latinx/BIPOC business owners, creatives, and brands. I help expand their reach across social media, amplify their vision, and build a respectable community via social media management and consulting services.
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
Mis abuelitos. They owned this beautiful home in El Salvador. My grandfather, in spite of only finishing second grade, was an amazing negotiator and businessman. My grandmother knew how to do it all. She baked, cooked, and sewed, and she was an even better business woman. Together, they built a business that provided well for them and their children. They were my very first example of hard work, determination, and so much love.
What do you wish you had known at the start of your career?
That everything is negotiable. In my twenties, I often found myself not negotiating the pay I wanted, the benefits, and the hours, and always wanting to say yes to things because I needed to move up in corporate America. Growing up as a daughter of immigrants, we were expected to be thankful for the opportunities we came across, even if they were just crumbs. In my thirties, I’ve gained more practical knowledge that helped me break out of my shell and be confident in negotiating and working for the life I want.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for Latinx professionals early in their careers?
Not enough connections and resources. We’re navigating school, college, job-hunting, and career growth alone. No connections to get us in the door, we have to work harder than everyone else and yet be expected to earn less. We also lack resources that truly speak to our experience and understand that taking internships to “advance” our careers are a privilege we don’t have. My advice would be to connect with fellow Latinx professionals (like me!) that can give you a real-world view of their experiences, what challenges they encountered, what advice they have, and how you can get the job you want without sacrificing your values.
When you get a new idea, what’s the first thing you do with it?
Write it down! I live by my calendar and the notes app on my phone. If it’s not written down, I will forget! After that, I go through my notes and check off what needs to be done to make that idea come to life.
Which causes are you passionate about?
I’m most passionate about equal pay for women of color. For Latinas, specifically, we would need to work until the year 2197 to achieve equal pay. It’s an insane figure and we need to continue to advocate for ourselves because no one else is. One of my favorite Latinas who works hard to educate and advocate for Latinx professionals on this topic is Paulette Piñero.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Working with clients who look like me! And vice versa, my clients enjoy having someone who’s experienced in helping them grow online and who understands how to market to our community without gimmicks or cringe-like content that other non-cultured marketers often swear by. My strategies work because they’re designed specifically for Latinx and BIPOC creatives and business owners, and because they draw in from our experiences, culture, and backgrounds.
What behavior or personality traits do you attribute to your success?
My type A personality. I used to think it was a bad trait growing up because I wasn’t always the fun, chaotic, go-with-the-flow type of person my friends were. Now as a business owner, being type A helps tremendously in keeping me motivated and on track with the goals I have for myself, my business, and my clients. I am highly focused on my goals, hate wasting time on non-essentials, and love research and work. While it may not seem fun to others, to me, it’s exactly where I want to be.
What are you most excited for in 2022?
Getting to work with more Latinx/BIPOC creatives and connecting with many more in my online community. This year I’m focused on what I enjoy most: creating engaging content and strategizing for client campaigns, because their success is my priority.