Apprentice Story: Yuridia
Yuridia is one of the participants of our six-month software engineering apprenticeship! She sat down with Techtonica volunteer Mel Burke to share her story. You can support her journey at techtonica.org/donate.
Tell us a little about where you’re from and where you grew up.
I was born in the desert of Sonora Mexico, where programming is not really a career option and studying engineering is not really affordable. Luckily for me, when I was 10 years old, I was a sneaky child, so while my mother was taking adult high school classes, I would run away from childcare and join the adult computer classes next door. I learned internet basics, Word, and Powerpoint 2000. That’s when my mother decided we had to move to San Francisco for what she called “better opportunities.”
So I grew up here in the Mission District of San Francisco. I went through middle school, high school, and learned English — but I was never introduced to coding. There was one computer class on Photoshop, and I couldn’t take it because it was an elective class only for kids who were in advanced English classes.
What made you decide to apply for Techtonica?
Prior to Techtonica, I took classes in engineering and computer science at City College of San Francisco. For one final project our team had to build two 27-foot racing cars and, while my handcrafting and mechanical skills were pretty poor, I knew I could program. So for one of our cars, we decided to build and program an electric Arduino Uno mini robot instead. This helped us tie first place in the final competition.
This was the moment I decided I wanted a career in coding. So I joined a local program called Mission Techies, where I learned and then gave basic tech support for low-income families, developed websites for San Francisco local businesses, and came up with the idea of having an app to take attendance in after-school programs using QR codes.
I kept going after that, learning coding by myself using online resources while working full-time retail jobs and teaching dance to high school students to provide for myself and pay for school tuition. As I tried applying for internships — or even simple office jobs — I only got rejection after rejection, which was very discouraging. Then I found Techtonica. I applied, and they gave me a big reason to not give up on my dream and try again.
What are you most excited to learn while in the program?
I am excited about having ideas and be able to build them and bring them to real life. Also, I have never seen so many women working together as I have in the past Techtonica workshops, and my current time in the program. It is powerful and is a way of healing for me, too. After so much struggle and rejection and feeling that I don’t belong, I can see that I’m not alone in this career path.
We all come from different backgrounds and seeing us working together is really exciting. We are supporting each other. It feels positive and safe. People will try to elaborate with you on your questions.
Is there anything you want to change about the tech industry specifically?
I want to be part of the movement to close the gap of women and diversity in the tech industry. If you are all from the same background or have the same ideas, then your product will look great — for one type of person only. If you have different people collaborating from different backgrounds and different ideas, at the end of the day the project is going to benefit more people.
And later on, when other women decide they want to come work in tech, they will see people like us and know there are more of us so they will come here too.
What’s your dream project?