Steal her secrets series: AARP Associate State Director answers 25 career questions

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room and you can just tell she’s got it going on!  You wish you could be her or simply wish you knew her secret to success.  WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work.  We’re having them dish the details on everything from work life to home life and what has led to their career success.

25 Questions with Jennifer Munoz

(L): Jennifer pictured with National Career Expert Kerry Hanon, (M): Jennifer and her kids, (MR): Jennifer and Governor Snyder, (R) Jennifer and world’s oldest female body builder

Meet Jennifer Munoz. She’s the Associate State Director for AARP.  While she is normally focusing on education, advocacy, community relations and outreach there’s a lot more to know about this power woman and her career.

Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.

I’m the Associate State Director for AARP which allows me to engage the 1.4 million members in Michigan with the work of AARP. My work on behalf of older adults 50+ is to focus on advocacy, education and outreach on the issues older adults face. Why do I love it? Because it paves the future for all Michigan residents. Aging isn’t an option and I find it fulfilling to advocate for older adults knowing we are all going to be there someday, (if we’re so lucky). I want to change the conversation about aging to something that’s viewed positively and rewarding. I want to be that champion and voice to say older adults are incredibly valuable to our community. My work is about fighting on behalf of the vulnerable– older adults and senior citizens who are brushed aside in society. I want to make West Michigan a great place to live for people of ALL ages.

Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

Lipstick, gum, wallet.  Surprised to find plastic kid sunglasses.

Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an actress. Now as an adult, I think I would loathe that kind of life. I like having a career with purpose.

Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

It takes hard work to get where you want to go. Nothing comes for free or without some blood, sweat and tears along the way. You’ve got to hang in there and fight the uphill battle. Any journey that goes upward, requires a lot of muscle to get there. So you’ve got to persevere and not give up.

Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

I was a waitress for two very short weeks at a chain restaurant (though I won’t say which one). The conditions in the kitchen were so filthy I couldn’t stomach staying there to work.

Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?

Carving out my professional niche. When I began working in the field of gerontology (older adults) I got certified in aging; networked with other professionals; and found ways to brand myself as the expert on aging issues. I sought out ways to get my expertise out in the community like writing for magazines; finding speaking opportunities and really putting myself out there to be seen as an expert. It really was about personal branding as an expert in this field.

Question 7: Flats or heels?

When I work I’m in heels. When I’m with family I’m in flats.

Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

I don’t cry at work. I save that for my husband who let’s me cry on his shoulder. I don’t think you’re taken as seriously if you become emotional to the point of crying. There are other more productive ways to manage emotions.

Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?

I try really hard to stick to 40 hours. My schedule isn’t typically 9-5 because we do a lot of evening and weekend events and I travel across the state for my job. But I try to balance overtime worked by taking extra time off to be with family. My family is my first priority and I work hard to make sure my career doesn’t overshadow them.

Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

Definitely. When I’m on a roll with work, I don’t want to stop and be distracted with food. So it’s more efficient to eat and work. Though I do try to carve out one day a week to have a meeting over lunch so that I’m not eating lunch at my desk every day.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

I am grateful for life. I wake up everyday to my family– an amazing husband; three beautiful children and two awesome step-children. I wake up to good health. I wake up in a country that I’m proud to live in. I wake up to enjoy the blessings of family and friends; a beautiful community and my Christian faith.

Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

My biggest blunder was not understanding the company I was interviewing for.   I always go in prepared now.

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

I hit snooze at least a half dozen times (which my husband so patiently endures). Shower, hair & makeup. Those things never change

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

I was hired in as a Producer at WXMI FOX 17 with little experience on my resume. I had been out of the workforce for 11 years as a stay at home mom. The news director took a chance on me despite a paper thin resume and it made all the difference to where I am today.

Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

Adapting to a new life with a new husband and new step kids and blending them with my three kids. Transitions in life can be tough! But as long as we keep our eyes focused on the prize we will come out of very blessed. Life is a constant series of transitions, but it’s how we adapt that determine our success.

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?


Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

I notice their friendly persona. Do they seem kind, honest? Soft eyes and a gentle smile reveal this.

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

I read about 4-5 books at a time. I need to keep my interest level up and I grow bored too easily with one book at a time so I have many started.

Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

Too many to count.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

The Bachelorette. It allows my brain to atrophy a bit after stimulating days at work.

Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

Biggby. I’m a fan of coffee that is so dolled up with syrups and chocolate and whip cream that it doesn’t taste like coffee. Biggby offers that little taste of heaven during a work meeting.

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

Duolingo. I’m learning Spanish.

Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?

Going through a divorce. It’s so hard to see where you’ll come out on the other side. But it was a healthy decision and one that I had to persevere through.

Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

Do you see me as a good fit for this company?

Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?

The variety. Every day is different. I wear so many different hats in my job and I’m working on so many different projects and activities there’s no possibility of growing stagnant or bored.

***Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series?  Email us her name/business and contact info!

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