Zoraya Sanchez De La Vega Cayero makes a mid-career transition to tech via the HashiCorp Early Careers program.
One of the goals of HashiCorp’s Early Career program is to create and support opportunities in the tech industry for people in underrepresented groups who might not ordinarily have considered a career in the tech industry. Zoraya Sanchez De La Vega Cayero is great example of the program’s impact.
Zoraya is someone many would consider a non-traditional student and tech intern. She is a wife and mother of four (aged 23, 21, 18, and 16) who had a long-term career in healthcare before to returning to school to pursue a technical degree. People are often shocked when they discover she’s studying software engineering. She’s not what they expect when they think “tech” or "engineer," a preconception we’re hoping to change.
Zoraya is now a rising senior at the University of Texas in UT Dallas pursuing a BS in software engineering. She joined the HashiCorp Engineering team in May 2022 as a Technical Program Manager Intern, and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.
We asked Zoraya to talk about how she got here and what’s she’s learned along the way:
When researching companies to apply for a summer internship, I came across HashiCorp in my search. After evaluating the company’s products and how they interact in the cloud environment, I was curious to know more. HashiCorp’s culture, values, and remote work orientation all aligned with what I was looking for in a tech company.
Before joining the tech space I worked as client service coordinator for a pediatric therapy organization. Seeing children progressing in their different physical and behavioral disabilities was enjoyable. However, I always had a strong curiosity about the tech field. I wanted to learn about programming and learn different coding languages to create apps that could be used to benefit various populations. The idea of working behind the scenes and delivering software products and services was really exciting.
Eventually I left my coordinator role, and spent a couple of years trying to figure out my next step. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep working in a similar position or if it was the right time to start a new chapter. After evaluating the impact that an achievement like earning a professional degree could have in my life. I decided that it was worthy. Critically, my family made the commitment to give me the support I needed to acquire a professional degree as a software engineer.
One of the biggest challenges for me is joining a heavily male-driven career field. It is nice to see how other women in tech embrace each other and align to be listened to and recognized.
Still, managing the biases that people have about me can be tough. I’ve had people tell me that they were surprised that I was earning a tech degree because it is difficult and complex. This made me realize how often we create images about professions and relate them with a person’s appearance.
As a society, it’s important that we encourage people of all genders to work in all job fields, to avoid creating inaccurate assumptions about people’s professions and abilities.
The most rewarding part about my transition to tech has been proving to myself that there are no limits for what I want to achieve in life. At times I wondered if it was too late in my career to make these kind of changes, and I asked myself if I really wanted to do this.
As of today, I am pleased with where I am at. It’s incredibly gratifying to see how proud my kids and my husband are of my accomplishments. This was important for me, because I use myself as an example to demonstrate how crucial it is to earn a degree in something that they like to do.
To those looking to transition to a new career or achieve a new milestone in life, I like to refer to the Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is today”. So If you’re considering a career transition, don’t hesitate; the best opportunities are sometimes the ones we give to ourselves.
Trust me when I tell you, you will feel good about yourself, your achievements, and about the strong character you are building as an individual. You will feel a sense of pride conquering new areas out of your comfort zone. The biggest regret you’re likely to have is not at least giving it a try.
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