Paula Romero’s career path to the Indy Tech Fellowship has been nothing if not eventful.
Paula was born in Maracay, Venezuela and moved to A Estrada, Spain when she was 11. At 16, she came to Indiana as a foreign exchange student, and at 18, she moved to Indiana for college.
Beginning her college career at the University of Indianapolis double majoring in Physics and Computer Science, Paula knew from day one that she was passionate for technology. She was highly ambitious, landing four major internships with notable companies and important projects during her time as a student.
In the summer of 2013, Paula began her first internship at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center as a Research Computer Scientist. She worked directly with a Ph.D. student by optimizing a diffraction algorithm throughout the summer. In 2014, Paula took an internship at Google as a Software Engineer and primarily focused on the creation of internal tools for the company’s search log quality team.
Paula found Xtern through Twitter in the summer of 2015. She tweeted a few startups in Indy hoping to get a bite when she discovered TechPoint and ultimately the perfect program for someone in her position as a tech-centric college upperclassman – Xtern. Paula connected with Appirio at Xtern Finalist Day and lined up her next internship as a Front End Software Engineer. The position at Appirio took an unexpected turn and landed her in San Francisco for her Xtern experience.
“San Francisco is a huge city, especially in terms of population, and it has its limitations and advantages. It can be really overwhelming to be in San Francisco as an intern for a startup because everywhere you go there is someone who has been there and done that and succeeded, but they have also failed. I gained a lot of perspective. For example, it’s totally okay to switch companies after four months if you don’t fit in, and it’s useless to point out problems with the company if you don’t have a potential solution or are willing to help figure it out. Working as a team means that if one member doesn’t move forward, the team doesn’t move forward,” said Paula.
“I realized I preferred to live in Indy because the community embraces your ability and works hard to build you up. In San Francisco, it’s really hard to find a company that wants to enable personal growth as part of their motto for their employees. There is a lot of demand, but there is a lot of competition. That comes at a cost,” said Paula.
As a senior in the spring of 2016, Paula took her final internship at another Xtern host company: Geofeedia. This time, she ventured into a non-technical position as a Product Manager for the integration of Everbridge into the company’s systems to provide mass communication capability for social media alerts.
“My Xtern Junior-to-Senior summer internship was crucial. I had enough knowledge from previous internships and college to take on bigger challenges, but I lacked the experience of conducting projects from beginning to end that actually went out into production.
I learned a lot about myself. I learned I enjoyed working with smaller teams where collaboration of every member comes naturally, and everyone works hard to move things forward. I became friends with those team members, and I learned I wanted to be more involved in the planning process of the projects, not just the development. Most importantly, I learned I have a lot left to learn. it was a reality check,” said Paula.
While Paula was adding hours of work experience to her resume prior to graduation, it was the Xtern experience that ultimately impacted her decision to place roots in Indianapolis. “Xtern was exactly what I had envisioned internships were like: a bunch of students together suffering through the early mornings going to work and coming back to hang out around the city and building memories together,” said Paula.
Paula’s introduction to TechPoint’s talent programs led to her current position as a charter fellow in the Indy Tech Fellowship. She took her first full-time post-grad position as a Product Owner at Angie’s List in July of 2016 working on the monetization team and focusing on providing exposure of e-commerce data for the company’s service providers.
“Indianapolis’ competitive advantage is in how it gives young talent the ability to build the tech community. It has grown quite a bit in the four years I’ve been here, and it has solidified its status which reduces the risk of it crashing. This makes it the perfect city for young grads to take risks. Indy provides the leadership, trailblazers, organizations – like TechPoint or Women & Hi Tech – and network to grow towards your dreams,” said Paula.