Dani - The “Tica” in Graz

“You work and live in Austria? — That’s so cool! How come? Is it hard to get a job in Europe?”

This question has been asked to me a few times in the last year, and my answer its pretty much always the same:

“Getting a job in Europe is not the easiest thing to do, specially for a Latin American woman, but its not impossible!

What I like most about Tech industries, is that they are opening their doors to minorities, and they want to import talent, no matter your color, religion, or beliefs; if you are good at what you do, they will take you.

The story

Talking about yourself is not the most comfortable thing to do, but I got asked to explain, why I’m here and why I like it. My name is Daniela Victoria Castro Ramírez (Austrians would say its a “telenovela” name), I’m a Costa Rican born and raised, and this is my story:

As a kid, I grew up in the publicity world. My mom worked as Creative Director for big add companies in Costa Rica for many years, and I surrounded myself with designers and Apple products since I have memory.

When I finished High School, I decided to study Graphic Design, following my mom’s path into design and publicity. What I didn’t know at that moment, was that a couple of years later, my career path would give a 180 degrees turn. A few years later, I got pushed into the tech world from what I call — a series of fortunate events. I discovered a whole new world in which my work was not art anymore, but science. And I loved it.

I slowly shifted from being a graphic designer, to be a UX designer.

I didn’t have any formal education in product design, and yet, I loved the idea of creating something that would actually be used and why not, loved. So I pushed myself and spent hours reading about the topic; I was mentored by awesome people that I will always admire, and suddenly I was there, confidently evangelising people around me about the power of a well-tested prototype, talking about heuristics and eventually, more doors were quickly opening.

At that moment, I knew it was the time to follow my dream.

I applied to Parkside, a Software Development Company in Graz, Austria, in December 2015, and after a couple of weeks they told me I was hired. The process for getting the Visa was complicated, but they were willing to do what it takes to help me with the paper work. After 3 months, I was taking a flight from San José to Graz, with no idea what was expecting me.

Life in Parkside

I always wanted to know what living in the first world would be like. I have been working in Parkside for over a year now, and I don’t regret coming here.

My focus here is User Experience design, although every now and then I take care of the UI too. Every project is different; I specifically like when we get projects from scratch, I like to refer to them as “my babies”. I like to get projects like those because you can really take them as yours; you can get a closer contact with all the different stakeholders to make sure that everyone is involved, and in that way create a synergy. We have developed apps and websites also for Startups, these are really rewarding because we can start our design process right from creating “personas”, and we follow it to make sure that we deliver a well tested product that users are going to love.

Having people from many countries and contexts makes of Parkside a great work place for me, since I’ve always been into cultural exchanges. You can walk the entire office and hear so many languages! Flexible schedules and opportunities like attending tech conferences in any country in Europe, make it also very appealing. Last year, we attended a UX conference in Scotland; it was a great chance to learn from experts around the world, and to get to know a different country, it’s really great!

What’s next?

In the future I would like to get involved in more social projects. I believe that as designer in tech I have the right tools to make the world a fair and better place. At some point, I would like to have my own business, one that would have a positive impact on people’s lives. But for now, let’s focus on doing the right thing, always with a smile… oh, and learning Austrian german of course.

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