Over the last several years we have explored two significant issues facing IT and tech. Attracting and retaining talent is top of mind for leaders everywhere. At the same time, many of us have launched DE&I initiatives to help resolve the inequities in our profession. In this episode, we’d like to tackle another issue that when faced could help to resolve the first two. Through the story of Orlando Alvarez and Yorlenin Pando-Gonzalez, two immigrants from Cuba, we shine a light on a group of IT professionals who sometimes have to work for years to regain their profession in IT. Listen in as they recount their journey back to IT.
My name is Orlando Alvarez, born and grew up in Cuba. I studied Computer Sciences Engineering and worked for about 2 years there. I was able to leave the country and started working as IT in Ecuador. After some months I got the opportunity to travel to the US and start a new life here. Life as an immigrant is never easy and it is harder when you have to face the world with no directions in the beginning. I knew studying could open doors in life, so I took some IT certifications to help me succeed, and indeed it helped me. The school I attended assisted me in job placement and I was so lucky to start working for South West Key Programs, a nonprofit organization that helps unaccompanied minors coming to the US to reunite with their families and start a new life full of opportunities. Since day one, working for South West Key has been a blessing because I see the humble goal that everyone has. We all make our contribution to this reunification process giving a new opportunity to someone that in the future could contribute to the development of our society.
My name is Yorlenin Pando-Gonzalez. I am 44 years old, I was born and raised in Cuba and I am a passionate IT guy. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science back in 2012 and since then I have been working to be a better technician. I worked in Equatorial Guinea for a couple of years and then decided to move to USA looking for better professional opportunities. Starting from the scratch is hard and painful, even more if you are a foreigner living in a new country. It took me some years, but finally I found the opportunity when I was hired for Southwest Key Programs (SWK Programs) 3 years ago. As an immigrant the path wasn’t easy, there were a lot of hopeless and fear in the way. But working with SWK was the better way to bring back all the good stuff. Work with kids who crossed the border without adults’ companion is a wonderful way to contribute for a better future. Working with them and for them untill they can be reunited with they family , with the SWK IT team members and all the rest of the staff, make me keep focus on how to serve better and do my best. They remind me all the time to stay humble, keep dreaming for a better future and contribute to my community and country.