Pablo Alvarado is a student at Indian Hills Community College working toward a degree in computer software development and is enrolled in the Future Ready Iowa mentoring program. Alvarado is currently working towards a degree in computer software development.

He started at Indian Hills right out of high school, and shortly after, left to pursue a career in construction. “I was working construction every day and doing that just didn’t make me happy," he said. "I knew I needed to find something I enjoyed and could do for a living.” An uncle told him about his career as a programmer. Alvarado took an interest and started by taking an intro class back at Indian Hills.

When Alvarado returned, he applied for the Last Dollar Scholarship and heard about the Future Ready Iowa mentoring program. He says, “I didn’t have that much experience. I had only worked in construction before, and I didn’t know to behave with the proper etiquette in a business setting. Things to say, who to talk to, things like that, so I thought it would be a pretty good idea to get a mentor to teach me those types of things.”

Alvarado and his mentor try to meet once every other week. "It is a match made in heaven because I’m currently an intern for Principal Financial, and [my mentor] was an employee of Principal Financial," he said. I had a list of questions about the company, how they function, and stuff like that, and he answered a lot of them since he worked there already.”

Alvarado hopes to improve is his technical interviewing skills and he knows working on it with his mentor will give him more confidence when going into those types of interviews. Alvarado has enjoyed his time with his mentor. He comments that one of his favorite moments from his mentorship was the first day, saying, “it was more on a personal level, just trying to get to know each other to see if it would be a good match.”

Alvarado says having a mentor has helped him a lot. “It gives you confidence just knowing you have someone to talk to that has also gone through [what you are going through]. It makes you think I can achieve [success] too,” he said.

Alvarado says that after starting his internship, “I had a personal shock. I thought I was going to get a job, and it would just be me coding by myself, but there is a lot more to it. You have to be able to communicate and communicate well, and not with just one person, but with many different people, in many different leadership positions. So, you have to have those soft skills.” He continues, “In a field like this, you cannot be quiet; you have to make yourself heard. You have to be able to communicate, get along with people, and network.” As someone who is naturally quiet, this is something that can be a challenge for Alvarado; however, he says, working with his mentor has helped his confidence.

Alvarado looks forward to learning as much as possible as he and his mentor continue to meet. Alvarado says his advice to other students is “to keep an open mind and try anything and everything, even if you fail, because that’s how you learn.”