Welcome to the Hughes STEM Career Highlight Series, which is a Q&A series showcasing the people of Hughes and the STEM path they took to jumpstart their careers and get to where they are today. Through sharing these experiences, we hope to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders and instill in them the same enthusiasm and passion our employees have for what they do.
This week, we’re talking to Bettina, a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) specialist who’s passionate about technology and bringing more women into STEM fields.
What got you interested in STEM?
As a child, I was always fascinated by computers. I remember my parents buying their first computer, and I was hooked. I used to design and code webpages for blogs when I was younger, but I never realized at that time that I could also do that for a career.
Did you study STEM in school?
I received my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Towson University (in Maryland). Prior to that though, I hadn’t really taken any classes in STEM subjects until college. I moved from the Philippines when I was in high school, so I had to spend a lot of time catching up on different subjects.
How long have you been working for Hughes?
I’ve been at Hughes for 18 months since I graduated from college. I’m on the service delivery team where I help automate high-volume and repetative business processes for different areas of the business across the North American division.
Do you remember a situation where you’ve gone above and beyond to get the job done?
One project I had early on was working on an RPA proof of concept with our internal teams. RPA was still relatively new at the time, and there was no existing infrastructure in place, so we were really starting from scratch. After that, we worked on a bot development lifecycle for RPA, and I drafted all the templates used to document each step of the process. I served as the point of contact for the various teams throughout and had to communicate all of this with my manager, too. This was all a bit new to me because my college coursework was more technical. It was a challenge at first, but I appreciate the opportunity my manager gave me to go outside of my comfort zone and learn on the job.
What role has mentorship played in your career?
I still see myself as a new graduate, so I look up to a lot of my colleagues as a source of knowledge. The staff at Hughes is incredibly intelligent and supportive, and I’ve been able to learn a lot from those around me; not just technical skills, but interpersonal skills too. I’ve learned so many new things by simply observing others.
My manager has been very influential in this. He’s given me work that has challenged me to be more versatile and helped me hone my technical and business skills. Working with him has really made my time at Hughes a great learning opportunity.
I also feel very fortunate to have started my career at Hughes, because there are a lot of women here in technical roles. I was so used to being the only girl in my class in college, but that isn’t the case at Hughes. I look around and see so many female trailblazers and leaders at Hughes in management positions who have come before me and are carving their own path in the field of STEM. It’s very motivating and inspiring for me to advance my own career alongside them in the pursuit of progressing the industry.
What advice would you give to people just starting in their career?
I think it’s very important to invest in activities that help enrich your mental health and fulfill you personally. Being able to do things that have enriched me personally has really helped me perform better at work, and it helps me avoid feeling like I’m doing the same thing over and over again.
One of the things I do is take an hour each morning and write in my gratitude journal about things for which I’m thankful. This helps me set a positive tone for the day. These types of activities have given me a great sense of purpose, and that’s helped significantly with my work-life balance and avoiding burnout.
What are some things that you think would inspire more women to enter STEM fields?
Having resources that would help girls learn about technology early on would make it much more likely for more women to be aware of STEM as a real career option. A lot of times, I feel what kids learn at an early age is very gendered. If we can provide opportunities for young girls to prove to themselves that they are equally capable of performing well in STEM, it will equip them with the confidence they need to thrive in such a male-dominated field.