LatinaLista — It’s known as High Technology Day and it’s a way for AT&T and members of its Latino employee resource group known as HACEMOS to help promote interest in STEM careers among young Latinas and Latinos across the nation, and this year, in Mexico too. Currently, less than 2 percent of the STEM workforce is Latino.
In its 18th year, the annual event took place simultaneously in 35 locations across the country on Thursday, February 25, with over 2400 high school students attending and learning about careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine.
One of those students who has benefited from the program is Natalie Lincoln.
Natalie knows about beating the odds. At 20 years old, the mother of 3 and part-time mariachi singer has faced and overcome life challenges well beyond her young age. At 15 she became a mother. She was only a sophomore when she had her son Adam. She gave birth to her second son Levi at 18. Her youngest son Luke is 2 months old.
She grew up fast. While her friends were going to parties, Natalie was changing diapers and worrying about how to make ends meet.
Natalie had a tough time. She lost friends and other relationships became distant. Things changed.
Yet the young mother was determined. With the support of her mother, Natalie and her younger sister Jessica were able to get involved with the annual National High Technology Day hosted by AT&T and HACEMOS. Natalie learned about different career opportunities in the field of technology at this one-day event and eventually landed a job as a customer service rep for AT&T. She plans to pursue a career in the medical field and wants to combine her education with her experience in the tech space.
AT&T sat down with Natalie to talk about National High Tech Day. She shared with them in the following Q&A how this program has impacted her life and why she thinks other young people should become involved with the event.
AT&T: How did you first become involved with National High Tech Day?
Natalie: I became aware of National High Technology Day through my mother. She’s an AT&T employee, and is also a member of HACEMOS. I was in 7th grade. She told my younger sister and I about it; that it was a good program about opportunities in technology and that we should get involved. I do like technology in general so I became very interested. It opened my eyes to a lot of different opportunities that are out there. I especially enjoyed meeting new people in leadership positions at AT&T.
AT&T: How did participating in this event impact your life and career?
Natalie: I remember they read off a lot of statistics at High Tech Day. That’s really what stood out to me. I didn’t want to be a statistic. I wanted to be able to show people that regardless of what life throws at you, you still should be able to succeed. I have seen my mom grow tremendously in her career. She has also always been very involved in the community. I strive to be like her. That’s also what really motivated me about High Tech Day. I liked the fact that you could start off as a customer service rep, like me, and move up to different opportunities in the field of technology. The motivation they provided was very inspiring. I am now a mentor myself for other teen moms. I want to be able to inspire them to keep going and to not give up on their dreams. I want to share with them the things that have really helped me along the way.
AT&T: What would you tell other young people about why they should participate in programs like High Tech Day?
Natalie: You get to learn about different career choices. You are able to interact with people who are in these jobs already. Sometimes it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Being able to interact and make connections with others allows you to grow your network and to learn about different opportunities. I just want to put out there that opportunity is always there. Don’t feel like you deserve any less. Always look for that opportunity! Opportunity can be knocking at your door and you just don’t know it. If it wasn’t for my mom helping me with my son and being that rock that I needed, I don’t think I would have made it. I don’t think I would have made it at all. I would have had no motivation.
AT&T: What are your plans for the future?
Natalie: My plans for the future… let’s see. I want to finish going to school. I’m getting my associate’s degree. I then plan to transfer to a 4-year college where I will major in biology. My plan is to get into the medical field. I also want to be able to continue growing with AT&T. I want to reach out to others, volunteer and eventually become a manager.
AT&T: What do you like most about your job as a customer service representative for AT&T?
Natalie: I like the human interaction. Even though there’s no face-to-face communication, I want my customers to know how much I enjoy helping other people. I like offering them solutions. I probably enjoy that the most about my role as a customer service rep. Sometimes we get calls from customers who are already frustrated, or who are having a difficult time. In those situations, I always make it my priority to let them know that I am on their side. I try to make things right for the customer.
National High Tech Day is taking place across more than 30 different cities on Thursday, February 25, 2016.