by StreetWise Partners
May 15th, 2023
When Louis Soto Ciprián joined StreetWise Partners as a mentee, he had been in and out of homeless shelters for three years. Growing up in the inner city and going through the foster system, Louis Soto “lost it all multiple times at an early age,” he shares.
A broken leg had ended his hopes for a basketball career. He was struggling in college and working odd jobs. And still, “I wanted so much for myself,” he says. In the face of adversity, he maintained his drive.
Mentorship jump starts a career
In the Spring of 2015, Louis joined the StreetWise Partners program. He was paired with two mentors working in different fields — management consulting and IT infrastructure — who helped him develop his professional character.
He learned how to articulate himself in a professional setting, including creating talk tracks, delivering his elevator pitch, and developing the charisma he needed to have relevant conversations and network. Louis also gained the core skills of how to write a resume and prep for a job interview.
As Louis explains it, “StreetWise uplifted me by providing me with the opportunity to gain access to a community of mentors, career preparation, corporate networking events, and personal growth.”
Having once aspired to be a professional basketball player, Louis compares the StreetWise mentor program to an elite basketball training camp. With the boot camp, you learn a myriad of court skills, train, go through a skills assessment, and then put yourself out there to get recruited by coaches. With StreetWise, you learn professional skills, practice those skills in scenarios like Mock Interview Day, then put yourself out there as a candidate to land a job.
“StreetWise gave me the training I needed as a corporate athlete,” says Louis. “I was working hard towards developing myself — not for the NBA, but for corporate America.”
Skills that pay off again and again
Since Louis graduated from the StreetWise program eight years ago, he’s taken those skills with him wherever he goes.
He currently works as an Enterprise Account Executive for Zappos at Work (ZAW), a business-to-business shopping experience through Zappos.com that major corporations can use to help their employees shop for safety footwear and workwear. He is excelling in his role, which he attributes to both the skills he initially learned at StreetWise and his experience in other sales roles.
He also knows what it takes to become a “shiner” — to take initiative and over-deliver value that others don’t see. For Louis, that means always looking for ways to improve and scale processes to improve sales outcomes.
It’s this ability to adapt and innovate, along with his desire “to be the best at whatever I’m doing” that has helped him weather the turbulence of the last few years. After getting laid off during Covid, and again in early 2023, Louis returned to the core skills he gained with StreetWise.
“I resurfaced the StreetWise materials,” he says, “and prepared myself to be able to go to market and get hired again. One thing overall that was really important was mastering my script.”
Advice to mentees navigating the corporate world
“Anything is possible,” says Louis. “No matter what background or disadvantaged situation you come from, as long as you put in the work to train and enhance your skill set, anything can happen.”
If you’re ready to make something happen, Louis offers these three pieces of advice: First, be willing to come out of your shell — get curious about what other people do.
Second, work on being okay with telling your story. “Be alright with your background, honor yourself as someone who is a mentee with StreetWise Partners,” says Louis.
Lastly, take action. “It’s better to fail forward,” says Louis, “than to miss out on opportunities because you didn’t take action. When you face rejection or pain, resilience will propel you forward.”
Elevating others in their careers
Today, Louis enjoys mentoring others, whether it’s helping someone write a resume, create talk tracks for an interview, or advance at their company. As someone passionate about community-building, he’s also set up a private LinkedIn group for people who come from a similar background to his own and want to grow and develop professionally.
“Everyone needs a friend when moving up the corporate ladder,” he says. “I like being an advisor, a guide to give them unbiased advice and be successful.”
And that full-circle story is what we love to see at StreetWise. Louis is “lifting as he climbs” — tapping into the skills he gained through StreetWise to not only advance his own career, but help others succeed as well.