Caloua Lowe-Gonzalez had always liked building and teaching herself new things.
When she was in high school, Lowe-Gonzalez began virtual learning after her family moved during the school year, and the teen started incorporating her own YouTube-led lessons on coding. She’d always liked critiquing brands for their logos or thinking up how she’d go about creating one, and she wanted to gain those skills herself — and possibly make money doing it.
“Tech for me, at first, was really all about design,” Lowe-Gonzalez told Technical.ly.
When she was 18, Lowe-Gonzalez found Hopeworks, the Camden-based tech training nonprofit. In her first few months, she “fell in love with the place,” and realized tech was a serious career option for her.
“I always enjoyed technology, even though I didn’t grow up around a lot of it,” she said. “But I’ve always found it intriguing. It can be powerful and dangerous. I’ve always been interested in an innovative career.”
On top of the program’s coding lessons, Lowe-Gonzalez built websites, CSS projects and data analytics projects in her free time. Eventually, through Hopeworks, Lowe-Gonzalez was connected with Northern Liberties digital agency Seer Interactive. As an intern there, she worked on the company’s marketing team, and after an internship extension, she recently joined the company as an associate.
Unlike many of her colleagues, Lowe-Gonzalez does not have a college degree. She’s aware of how that separates her from others when it came time to apply for full-time jobs or advance in her career.
“As I started to go through, looking at other UX or UI roles, I was constantly getting shot down,” she said of her job hunt. “I thought out of all the roles in tech, design would be one of the main ones that would be more open, but just seeing the languages about degrees preferred in job postings was turning me off.”
And that mindset’s a little confusing to her, she said.
“Let’s say you do go the traditional college route,” Lowe-Gonzalez said. “The way tech evolves, whatever you learned at your university, you’re going to have to relearn a few years later.”
But she feels like she found her niche at Seer, first through social media, and now in her role with analytics. If she could offer some advice to her high school self, it would be not to feel like a failure for not going to college, and to understand how important the networking side of tech is.
“I do think people gravitate toward tech because of the freedom it brings,” she said. And that’s reflected in the approachability she experiences at Seer: “I could never just go to up to anyone in leadership at any job I’d ever worked before with an idea and have them really listen.”-30-
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