Welcome to, Transformational Power of Technology, a new series at HHF where we speak with Latinos in Tech who have been placed into jobs or internships after joining our Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT) and Code as a Second Language (CSL) network. The power of technology is a force like no other, a part of everyday lives and the means of constant communications across the globe.
Next up is Jacqueline Moreno, Junior Data Scientist at Reputation.com. She is sharing with us how she is connected to HHF, how HHF has helped her in her professional career, on leveraging her relationship with HHF and tips for other professionals in the workplace. This is what she said.
How did you connect with HHF?
I knew about HHF from a very young age, ever since I was in high school, as an organization that could help me to find scholarships. I would look online to find scholarships and HHF came up on my search.
But my first in-person introduction to the organization was at my first HHF summit, at Stanford, while I was still an intern at Reputation.com. I kept attending events and I went on to attend another LOFT Coder Summit at UCLA.
How has HHF acted as a mentor in your professional career?
Jacqueline has seen HHF act as a mentor in her life firsthand:
I define the word ‘mentor’ pretty liberally when I say that to me, mentors are anyone who help me in my career or personal life goals. Group mentors are exactly what they sound like, they can be an entire team of people who nurtured you at an office, or even a large organization who stayed in touch with you over time in order to check in that you’re accomplishing your goals. The Hispanic Heritage Foundation has been, for me, my group mentor in that their LOFT Code as a Second Language programming and LOFT Latina groups have stayed in touch with me literally for years, since my introduction into technology in 2014.”
Alberto Avalos, Innovation and Technology Manager at HHF, recommended me for sponsorship at Salesforce’s TrailheaDX developer conference as well as Facebook’s F8 developer conference. I learned things at these conferences that I could use to contribute to my team at work.
HHF built a community of LOFT members at their LOFT Summits at Stanford, UCLA, and the Target Headquarters, all of which I attended to network with other Latin@s in tech for the first time. Such familia building has been good for my career at Reputation.com. Target’s connection led to a Target internship offer, and the other two Summits led me to meeting QueSee, the tech startup that gave me my other internship building their mobile product. I did not take the Target.com internship after all, but having it in the first place helped me to position myself as an intern worthy of transitioning into a full-time employee, and today I’m a Junior Data Scientist.
Networking advice for college graduates?
If you want to learn new, challenging things, to move from your current job to your dream job, you’re going to have to use your weekend time to do it. Working on your personal side projects while also having a 9am-5pm day job is really, really difficult, because after work hours, you’ll be tired… so for those of us for whom coding after work might not be realistic, I recommend several things:
- Even just 30 minutes of coding per day makes a difference, so make sure you do it every day. Every day you don’t code, you risk forgetting the new concepts you mastered the day before. Don’t learn this the hard way.
- Coding in the morning, before going to work, is much easier than coding in the evening, after you’ve already made those commutes to the office and back home, and done hours of work already. I’m an evening person, but I had to force myself to be a morning person in order to fit my coding time into my time of the day when I was still alert and well rested.
- Weekends are huge! This is my biggest advice to people of all! That is why I repeat it here. You don’t have to give up every fun weekend plan, but you will have to prioritize meeting your learning goals before the fun. Make the fun your rewards, and learn how to say no to invitations without feeling guilty!
- Figure out the learning resources that work best for your learning style. Graduate school was not as helpful to my learning as the online format given on Udacity.com. I learned the most from Udacity.com’s free computer science videos I could rewind for review, and their constant quizzing to ensure I understood the material, than I did from some of the busywork in graduate school… that said, not all work in graduate school was busywork, and so if lectures, grades, and classroom attendance are what you need to get busy, by all means do that instead.
- Be honest with yourself, and “get out quickly…” By that I mean that I stayed in graduate school probably longer than I should have, and by the time I finally dropped out, I was thousands of dollars in debt. If you know graduate school or some other resource is well worth the money for you, then more power to you, but if you know that you’d prefer a different resource, do that other resource instead, and save your money. A Master’s Degree would have been lovely on my resume for job hunting for sure, especially in a research oriented field like Data Science, but switching to Udacity helped me to focus a lot more on building actual projects, which I think is really what helps me personally to learn the most.
- “… but don’t quit too soon!” By this I mean that you should always have a back up. I quit my graduate degree because I already had a Bachelor’s Degree, and although it was in the Humanities, I also had a job at Reputation.com to hone my craft, so the work experience in tech specifically was already there by the time I quit. I also think that if you can keep your current job until you have your next one lined up, that’s better than quitting your current job and then struggling until your next one becomes a reality.
HHF’s CSL initiative provides opportunities across the country and opens its doors to everyone, Whether you are a CSL fellow, participate in our Bootcamps, Academies, Jams and or attend our LOFT Coder Summits, the opportunities in technology are endless! We’d love to chat. Contact us!