Juan Vidal, a first generation Mexican-American raised in San Martin, CA, received a Latinos in Technology Scholarship in 2018. Today, he works as a Software Engineer at Turo – a car sharing marketplace in San Francisco. With a dream of working in the high-tech industry, Vidal’s path towards success was not easy. Vidal shared that after attending West Valley Community College for three years, he wanted to “prioritize graduating debt free as I transitioned into San Jose State University (SJSU) to pursue a Computer Engineering degree.” For Vidal, this was a long and strenuous journey, as he juggled multiple jobs and fluctuated from a part-time to a full-time student for three years at SJSU until he found the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.
Below Vidal shares his hardship as a college student, the benefits of applying to the Hispanic Foundation’s Latinos in Technology Scholarship, and emphasizes the importance of networking for college students.
HFSV: How did you hear about the Latinos in Technology Scholarship?
Juan Vidal: I learned about the scholarship through a Google search while I was searching for internship/scholarship opportunities in Silicon Valley.
HFSV: It sounds like at the time you were busy with school and work. What made you decide to apply?
Juan Vidal: I wanted to focus primarily on my studies while working full time as an intern at a cybersecurity company. The scholarship alleviated my time and financial constraints.
HFSV: How did the scholarship help you after college?
Juan Vidal: After graduating college, I worked with Lisa Dominguez, Programs Director at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, who helped me land a six-month internship at Turo in August 2018. Turo offered me a full-time position in January 2019.
HFSV: Without the scholarship what challenges would you have faced?
Juan Vidal: Because I was working two jobs and a few side projects, I often times had to cut down on the number of classes I was taking because it would be too much to manage. When I received the scholarship, I was able to quit one of my jobs and graduate within a year, while working full time, by taking 18 and 21 units my last two semesters of college.
HFSV: What would you tell a college student who wants to pursue or is currently pursuing a STEM degree?
Juan Vidal: See it through, regardless of how difficult it might be at times, in the end it is worth it.
I would tell them to make sure to apply for internships and to work on expanding their network and circle of influence. Don’t be afraid to take chances when it comes to applying for a job/internship. Be creative with how you approach people when you wish to learn or get a job opportunity. Don’t just send them an email saying that you’re looking for a job and think you’ll be a good fit, try something different.
If you would like to know more about our Latinos in Technology initiative: click here!
If you would like to invest in Latinos pursuing a degree and a career in the high-tech workforce: click here!