There can be the perception that everyone in Silicon Valley knew, from the time they were babies, that they wanted to work in the computer field; that they were crafting their first business plan alongside their story for ‘what I did on my summer vacation’ in elementary school. That is a fallacy; there are a great many very successful people who had no clue, even when they were college-aged, that they would end up in high tech.
A case in point is Tara Hernandez, director of systems engineering at Linden Labs, Inc. She originally went to UC Santa Cruz to earn a double major in history and English literature, with no interest whatsoever in the sciences. When she began to be concerned about her job prospects, she realized that she liked many of the computer majors; they seemed like nice people. So she changed her major and began her very successful career in technology.
As the winner of a CloudNOW award, Hernandez recently joined Lisa Martin (@Luccazara), host of theCUBE*, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio, at the CloudNOW – 5th Annual “Top 10 Women in Cloud” Innovation Awards, held in in Mountain View, CA. (*Disclosure below) CloudNow is a non-profit consortium of leading women in cloud computing and converging technologies.
In addition to Hernandez’s surprise start in technology, they discussed the importance of mentoring and giving back to the community.
The importance of mentoring
Given her unconventional start to her career, Hernandez said, “I’ve been very blessed in my career, with lots of great support and mentors, and I feel like I need to give back to the industry.”
Hernandez is affiliated with several nonprofits that support and encourage the participation of women and people of color in technology. Women Who Code is a global organization that provides a connected community of women in technology; Chicktech is dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce, as well as increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers; and Code 2040 is aimed at getting more Latino and African American students into high tech.
Diversity in a virtual reality world
The company Hernandez works for, Linden Labs, is working on having more inclusive products so that anyone can use the product. “The more diverse our company is, the more diverse we feel we will be able to reach out to those consumers,” Hernandez explained.
Linden Labs is famous for the virtual reality world Second Life; it also has a new product coming out soon, called Project Sansar. Sansar will have a more modern graphics system, with a heavy emphasis in virtual reality. Both of these products allow you to be whoever you want to be, in a virtual world, not who everyone thinks you are.
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of the CloudNOW – 5th Annual “Top 10 Women in Cloud” Innovation Awards. (*Disclosure: Some segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE are sponsored. However, no sponsorships have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)