April 15, 2015 is the D-day for the Diversity at Startups Event in NYC, hosted by 20/20 Shift in partnership with Innov8tiv Magazine. The event will hold candid discussions on diversity and the life stages of a startup. Expect nothing short of educational discussions from a panelist made up of seasoned entrepreneurs from different backgrounds who have successfully overcome the challenges the industry dishes out to startups.
Before heading down to 137 Varick Street (2nd Floor) where the event will be held. Innov8tiv Magazine would like to share with our one on one interview with the founder of 20/20 Shift. So that you can get to know how 20/20 Shift came to be. Without further ado, the following is the chronicles of 20/20 Shift from the mouth of the founder.
My name is Ariel Lopez and I’m a career coach and entrepreneur within digital media and technology. I’ve been in the space for about 5 years now, currently coaching students at General Assembly and also working on my social enterprise- 2020Shift.
You are the Founder of 20/20 Shift, what prompted you to start that platform?
I started 2020Shift after Google released their diversity reports summer/early fall of 2014. I have a background in recruitment and talent acquisition so I always knew how minorities were underrepresented, however that was the first time I actually saw statistical data on paper. It was like oh man this is a BIG problem, how can I help find a solution? 2020Shift was the answer to that.
Also just realizing the wealth of opportunity that no one is talking about. When I started 2020, most initiatives (then and currently) were focused on Coding and STEM. Although there is a big need for minorities as developers and programmers, that’s not the only option. 2020Shift is designed to expose the career paths that haven’t gotten as much publicity but are essential to any tech company’s success and growth (Sales, Marketing, Product, and Design etc).
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
What was the most difficult period in your Career life, and how did you deal with it?
The most difficult period during my career was about 2 or so years ago. I quit the staffing firm I was working at to pursue a work from home opportunity-which flopped shortly after. I was for sure that it was right for me so I made the transition without much preparation (especially on the savings side). Before I knew it I got behind on my rent and I became the recruiter looking for a job (ironic and truly humbling). I got back on my feet within a couple of months but it was HARD. For the first time I really battled depression in conjunction with being a 20 something in NY (can you say early mid-life crisis???!!). It was only through faith and positivity that I was able to triumph and continue on.
In your experience, what do you think is severely lacking within the Tech Communities?
I think diversity is the obvious answer- but specifically within that awareness. There’s a lack of awareness for students, recent grads, and even people already in the workforce on what opportunities are available in tech but most importantly how to get them. On the company side there’s a lack of awareness on best practices to successfully hire and retain minority talent- the recruitment process is flawed and it needs to change.
What are the most important things you have learnt from your work experience?
The most important things that I’ve learned? SO MANY
Don’t compare your success to others- While you’re admiring how green the grass is on the other side you’re often neglecting to water your own. Everyone has a different journey- focus on yours.
Trust the process- In all aspects of life things take time and the essence of timing is one that cannot be questioned. Know that whatever is meant for you will be and if doesn’t happen it’s either not for you or not meant to happen- yet.
Be aggressive and BOLD- Closed mouths don’t get fed! Simply. You have to believe in your dreams and believe you’re worthy of accomplishing them. Don’t be afraid of being a shameless self-promoter- remind people why you’re valuable and why they should work with you.
Be fearless- The worst thing that can happen is you hear no. So what???! You’ll get a yes eventually. Don’t let your fear of failing hold you back from achieving incredible things. Learn from your lessons and be persistent!
What is your career advice to college students studying technology?
Learn as much as you can about the space (major players, product types, trends), Network your ass off (who you know will help you get where you want to go 10x faster), and don’t worry about having everything figured out. You’ll find that whatever trajectory you have for your life will most likely shift after college. Things won’t play out as you planned and you need to be able to cope with that (especially in an industry such as technology that is continuously changing). Know how to roll with the punches while putting the puzzle of your life together.
You can keep in touch with Ariel Lopez on social media through her twitter handle @ArielLopez__
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