From Voyage Magazine Article:
Meet Kristen Martinez of AZ Event Connect in Downtown Phoenix
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Martinez.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Kristen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that we don’t meet people by chance. Growing up a Mexican-American and being the first of many milestones did not come easily. This very simply was because I was a first-generation high school graduate. There was not a path laid out for me, no one that could hold my hand and provide me answers in my educational and professional path. The transition from High School to College or Employment was not an easy one. I had no idea what I “wanted to be when I grew up”. I felt like my peers were leaving me behind and because I couldn’t get answers from my parents and I was the oldest of me and my brother. I was forced to research and just simply “figure it out”. I learned quickly that doing something was better than doing nothing at all. So I enrolled in classes at a local community college and began working while I figured it out. In between, having a child and changing jobs. I learned how to access much needed resources and services available to me to help me be successful. I believe this part of my life in having to “figure things out” not only made me that much stronger for my children as a mother but also very knowledgeable and resourceful. Even though it was frustrating at times and took me longer than most to graduate college with a degree, I am grateful for this life experience as this has created my purpose. Which is to connect individuals with resources that can help to make their path a little bit smoother so they don’t have to go through what I did. About seven years ago, I came across the opportunity to work for a non-profit and assist individuals one on one with finding employment. Whether it be a better job, a second job, their first job or whatever the case may be. I quickly learned about the variety of barriers a job seeker could encounter while looking for employment, gas in their vehicles, interview clothing, affordable childcare… I could go on and on, but I could instantly relate.
This role further fueled my passion for providing the community with resources. This is because I understood the importance of sharing all this information with the general public. After working for that non-profit for years, I came to a point where it just didn’t feel like it was enough anymore. I felt that I wasn’t helping people to the best of my ability. I knew it was time for me to expand and launch AZ Event Connect and pursue my vision of connecting job seekers with employment resources! And that is how AZ Event Connect was born.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way? This journey certainly hasn’t been a smooth road. Growing up as a Mexican-American woman, I have faced a variety of obstacles throughout my life. At a young age, I felt that the goals my family had laid out for me fell short of my peers’. All my family expected of me was to graduate high school and to not become a teen mother. So I am proud to say that I was able to check off those two goals, but once I achieved them, I was lost. I knew there were two obvious choices ahead of me, join the workforce or more school, and both seemed just as daunting as the other. Up until that point, I had not considered what I wanted my career to be so picking a job seemed overwhelming. College, on the other hand, seemed like an impossible process since I would be the first in my family to attend. Initially, questions like how do I apply, how will I pay for school, and what happens when I take out a loan scared me away from achieving a higher education.
Eventually, after summoning the courage and taking the time to research everything online that I needed to know about going to college, I enrolled in school and am now the first-generation college graduate in my family. However, that wasn’t the end of the challenges I faced; getting through college did, unfortunately, take much longer than the average person due to a lack of direction and support. There was a constant internal struggle of sticking to my beliefs and going back to school when no one else in my family seemed to value education. I spent years in college trying to understand myself and dive into what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I found myself changing majors over and over again.
My advice to anyone in a similar position is to take the time to try different career paths; volunteer, take up an internship or try different jobs until you’ve found what makes you happy. After college, I was contacted by a recruiter and landed the job that led to everything starting to click into place and find that driving force to start AZ Event Connect. I always knew I wanted to help people, but I never knew in what capacity and I certainly never believed that it could be on my terms and by launching my own business and non-profit. To this day, I am still learning new things about myself and the everyday trials and tribulations of starting a business but it’s important to keep learning so you and your business can improve.
Tell us about your company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others? AZ Event Connect is so much more than a place for job seekers to find jobs and employers to fill positions, it’s a resource for our Arizona communities to reach out and connect with the right people. I never want another person to feel lost and unable to meet the right people to help guide them through their life to discover their purpose, their passion in life, so my mission is to make all these free resources accessible and known. The Internet is a wonderful place but there’s a whole new world of tools and community groups that open up to you when you know what to search. Therefore with AZ Event Connect, I strive to bring all the resources, tools, and guidance to one place so people can find the jobs they’re looking for, employers can learn how to fill positions with the right candidate, community partners and helping agencies can reach those that need their services, professionals can get the guidance they need to choose their career path, and so much more.AZ Event Connect is a locally-owned women-led recruitment agency that has a new vision for how hiring companies connect to candidates. We leverage our job fairs as opportunities to increase brand awareness and outreach for local hiring companies.
We foster collaboration with community stakeholders, such as non-profits, faith based groups and government entities to address business needs that result in stronger communities and quality business relations. Our extensive partner network helps us to create strategic partnerships that provide our clients a holistic approach to filling their job openings. All in all, we use our AZ connections to host events that connect hiring companies to qualified candidates and if that isn’t enough we offer a variety of recruitment solutions as well. What makes AZ Event Connect unique is that connection piece; our focus is to not just provide job opportunities but to take the leaps and bounds further and understand the people in our community and emphasize the importance of being a collective impact. This is achieved through our #AZHireMe Initiative. AZ Event Connect is committed to the betterment of job seekers to ensure they are presenting the best version of themselves to our valleys employers. This is through our partnerships with our employers and community partners investing in Arizona’s human capital.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role? So, why do I believe that everything happens for a reason and that we don’t meet people by chance? This is because there is no way that the creation of my small business and non-profit would’ve come to be without the tremendous support from my husband, parent’s and children. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without each of them. My husband has believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and has allowed me to take a leap of faith in leaving my comfortable job and take a chance at making my dreams a reality. He has helped me to realize that being an entrepreneur is my true calling and challenges and pushes me everyday to conquer my goals. My parents, while both have their full time jobs, taken on a lot of the responsibilities with raising 5 kids. Their support allows me the ability to put so much time, energy and effort into my business. They truly are the best parents and grandparents that anyone could ask for. And lastly, my children, have had patience in me bringing my work home, working through the late nights, early mornings and last minute business trips. I am proud that they are curious and understanding enough to allow me to pursue my dreams and provide for our family on our own terms.