According to Economist Ricardo Hausmann, 54% of technical workers in Silicon Valley are foreigners. So, the secret sauce of this area relies on its incredible capacity to attract talent. On the other hand, Alex Ontiveros, founder of Silicon Valley Latino, estimates that only 7% of that workforce is Latinx, which means that there is still a lot of work to be done back in my beloved Mexico, like to keep pushing hard on education.
It has been a year since I moved to the United States. Before that, I only had what social media, movies, news, and family discussions led me to believe this country was like. And it was to my surprise that, at least in the South Bay area, most of my teammates at the office are foreigners and immigrants, and only a few were born here. I saw how much this area embraces collaborators from practically anywhere.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to look back at my origins.
A Technical Childhood
Getting to this point didn’t appear out of thin air. I was not born knowing how to code, do math problems, or be kind. I remember the day that my dad arrived with a bunch of boxes. To the surprise of my mom and I, we were getting the chance to meet our first personal computer: an IBM Aptiva with no speakers, a fancy screen protector, one big mouse, and a noisy keyboard. The computer was in such an early stage that to this day it still feels like my dad was some kind of a prophet. I’m sure my mom asked him why we needed that apparatus back at home, but somehow, he knew it would be the tool that would change households around the world.
And keep in mind, this wasn’t that easy back in the day because of the prices and the lack of knowledge and interest available in computers. Only a handful of English manuals existed. Nowadays, you open your YouTube app to trending tech videos, and tech webinars exist worldwide.
I remember that back in Mexico, my dad was always two steps ahead. Since I can remember, Encyclopedia Britannica was always there, and that was my primary resource for getting my homework done. However, once he got us a copy of Encarta in 1997, all my classmates would call and ask me about the resource I used for my quotes. The other parents were intrigued about how they could access the DVD-ROM.
We faced all stages of the internet, from connecting with dial-up to fighting with my mom about using the Internet while she was waiting on calls from my Aunt Letty. It was an experience. The opportunity to grow in my field and share my work experience and knowledge with another country is a blessing that I would not have been able to accomplish without my parents’ support. I know my parents sacrificed a lot to ensure that my siblings and I had the opportunity to go to school instead of helping with finances at home. And what better chance could I have than Hispanic Heritage Month to honor them?
Pursuing Educational Opportunities
When I had to choose a college to attend, my dad showed me the INEGI records (Mexican Statistical and Geographical Information). In the records were some of the best-paying careers, and he always taught me to choose from the top list if I ever wanted “to be someone in life.” Back then, Engineering in Computer Science was at a pretty early stage compared with more popular career choices such as accountant, lawyer, or doctor. I decided that ESCOM was the public university I wanted to attend to build my future. The tuition was approximately 25 USD each semester. And without that opportunity, I would not be here sharing these experiences of my heritage that, hopefully, I can transmit to my kids and them to their kids. That one day, when one dad decided to invest his money not in a car or clothes but in a personal computer, changed my life forever. I was also in a scholarship program that allowed me to buy my first laptop, a black MacBook that, to this day, still turns on but can longer be updated. And for that chance, I will always be grateful.
Embracing Life As It Is Today
I’m grateful that my kids have the chance to attend an English-speaking school in the USA. Although it can be challenging for my family and me, I feel how I imagine my dad did all those years ago, like I’m doing the right thing. Life will always present us with challenges, but how we overcome them is what makes us who we are. From my parents, I learned to be a hard worker, always to wake up early, how to make a warm homemade meal, to keep the home neat and clean, and to be respectful. And that is something that I keep feeling proud of.
I constantly feel honored and fortunate because of what Bismark Lepe – Wizeline CEO & Founder – is always saying: we all have similar skills and abilities to learn practically anything and continually improve ourselves, but not everyone gets the same opportunities. In my case, Wizeline took a chance on me, and I decided to move to California. I am contributing to one of the top retailers in the USA with the best code practices, high-performance teams, and multicultural colleagues. Here, I can share what Harvard Professor Ricardo Hausmann calls my know-how and expand my career path by helping others, from customers to teammates. I wish more and more people could be a part of that, and with programs like Wizeline Academy, it can be made possible.