4 Questions | Toya
What’s your current role and what do you work on?
I’m the ConnectHome Coordinator on the Social Impact team at GitHub, the world’s largest open source community. I’m part of the team that oversees GitHub’s commitment to ConnectHome, a White House initiative to close the digital divide in public and HUD-assisted housing. ConnectHome is a public-private partnership that provides free and low-cost high-speed Broadband wireless internet, devices, and training to 28 communities across the US, impacting more than 100,000 low-income families. GitHub has committed $500k, 4,000 hours of volunteer time, and $3 million in product to help make the project a reality. I have the privilege to travel across the country organizing and executing community training for high school students and their families on career pathways, technology, and social change. I’m also a part of Blacktocats, the employee affinity group for Black/African-American folks at GitHub.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve overcome in your career?
One of the hardest things that I had to overcome in my career was getting out of my comfort zone which was working in the HR field. I stayed in HR roles because I did not think that I was qualified for any other opportunities. My career early on was working in call centers until I decided that I wanted to do something different. I came across a customer service HR position early on in my career, I had no expectations of getting the job. However, I knew I was more than qualified to do the work all I needed was an opportunity. When I think back, that is all anyone needs is an opportunity however when you doubt yourself you automatically take yourself out of the game before you get in. In addition, I had to overcome the stigma of (1) growing up low-income, (2) not having a college education and thinking that I was only qualified for jobs which only made a certain amount of money. Also, the leap of faith I took to move from Atlanta, GA to San Francisco, CA to take a job at GitHub a company and a city I knew nothing about was truly getting out of my comfort zone.
Tell us about your greatest failure?
My greatest failure is that I didn’t go back to college. I started the process and due to life and other circumstances I stopped. I could have gone back but I made one excuse after the next. There was always some reason or something that I felt was more important at the time that I just didn’t do it. One might say you’re doing great, you’re making great money, you get to travel, and you love what you do. However, there is a small piece of me that feels incomplete because I started something and didn’t complete it. Anyone that knows me will tell you that ‘Toya is all about completion, never leave anything open-ended. You have a task, get it done there are no if’s and’s or but’s about it! Complete what you set out to do and for some reason, I didn’t get that done.
What advice would you give to your 19-year-old self?
Enjoy life and not take yourself so seriously. Seize every moment and don’t rush to grow up. The saying is “Youth Is Wasted On The Young.” However, if you remain young at heart and not stress over things that are out of your control you’ll have a happy life. Allow life to happen it’s just that simple. Life is what you make it.