Back in 1990, my mother gifted my uncle a Tandy PC 1000HX for his 12th birthday. My uncle didn’t understand the language the instruction manual was written in as he didn’t speak English at the time. After a process of trial and error, he taught himself how to code in GW-BASIC. He then used this knowledge to teach me, at age eight, how to write my first computer program. I didn’t know it back then, but that is when my passion for software was born which would turn out to shape my entire life.
Many years later, as I left my hometown of Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico to pursue a career in technology at Microsoft, I recall one piece of advice from my mother: “siempre ayuda a nuestra gente,” which translates to “always help our people.”
It was a new world for me—working with a diverse group of colleagues on impactful software projects like the Windows operating system. Once I was acclimated to my new environment, which proved to be a challenge, I was motivated to give back and help the Latinx community.
Alongside likeminded friends and colleagues and keeping my mother’s advice close to heart, I co-founded omegaUp, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the number of talented Software Engineers in Latin America by providing students an open source platform to improve their algorithmic skills. Today, omegaUp is actively used in Latin American schools of all levels to help improve students’ learning experiences – some students as young as I was when my uncle introduced me to technology and changed my life.
Being at Microsoft while building omegaUp has played a big role in its success and for that I am very grateful. Our company culture of giving back has guided us through the process of developing the organization and providing resources for its growth. My peers here, both Latino and non-Latino, who were also interested in supporting the Latin American community, have been instrumental in helping omegaUp become more efficient and effective. Seeing how everyone comes together to achieve a common goal has truly been inspiring and motivational. And the Employee Giving Program matches the time and money employees dedicate to nonprofit organizations. I have been inspired and motivated by this combination of support.
I’ve found my passion in helping others advance professionally and particularly in encouraging Latinos who are interested in the technology industry to pursue their goals. The prospect of being part of something this special will be worth taking on the challenge and hard work.
My message to Latinos of all ages looking to pursue a career in technology is: work hard, persevere, find a mentor, be a mentor and have a growth mindset about the world and about yourself. You’ll find that in the process of helping others, you will be helped too.