From HR to CS: How Jocelyn Parada broke into tech from a background in Human Resources
“Never in my life had I seen myself as a developer because I come from a very low social class… so I didn’t have any ambitious professional goals.”
Though she always excelled in math, and even tutored her peers as she grew up, Jocelyn Parada veered away from math and sciences. After a stint in Human Resources, she was frustrated with her lack of career opportunities, so she took a risk — she learned how to code, took on a whole new career path.
Growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Santiago, Chile, Jocelyn’s parents encouraged her to finish high school, but she didn’t grow up with any specific career aspirations.
Jocelyn started her new adventure with Laboratoria. Through their six month coding bootcamp, she not only gained the necessary tech skills but also the confidence boost to make the major changes she was hungry for. After learning to code, she created a web of Pokemon Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Navigating and programming an API with all the data required is no easy feat but something Jocelyn counts as her most important achievement.
“I was happy to develop a platform for a national challenge here in Chile. It is a super power challenge for a well known company, and I am proud to know that it can be in my portfolio and that I believe in it,” said Jocelyn. She currently works as a Platform Consultant at Tranforme Consultores, a consulting firm in Chile managing corporate innovation.
When facing problems — whether in coding or in life — Jocelyn always looks for new and innovative ways to solve the problem before asking for help. She recognizes adversity as an opportunity for improvement and aims to be a good role model for her son and other women in her professional community.
“Keep your head focused on a set goal and do not give up until you achieve it,” she said. “You have to remember that you can do it and that nothing is impossible.”
She encourages women to take advantage of the career opportunities that haven’t been readily available to them until now, especially in STEM. According to the World Bank Education Statistics, earning a degree in science related fields does not guarantee a bright future. Less than 20% of women in the region transition from studying science and technology to formal jobs in those industries. Organizations like Laboratoria hope to bridge that gap and give women the confidence and opportunities to work in tech. It helps that Chile ranks first in Latin America for innovation because the government increased spending on Research and Development, and eased restrictions on large companies. With new businesses and ideas relying on tech, Jocelyn believes this is the best time for women in Chile to try something new.
“It does not matter if you came from a low income place, or didn’t live in the best area; don’t give up,” said Jocelyn. “You have to look for opportunities and not settle for what you have. Keep looking, you will achieve it.”
This story is part of wogrammer’s collaboration with Laboratoria, an education and workforce development program empowering women throughout Latin America. Their story is pretty inspiring as well, so learn more about how they are building a diverse tech industry from the ground up.
Written by Kristen Shipley, wogrammer Journalism Fellow. Connect with her on Twitter @perfectlyk.