So this time I want you to meet Josue Villanueva on Drift’s engineering team. Josue is an intern on the integrations team here at Drift. During his time at Drift, Josue has built new API’s, integration features, and an internal tool that allows Drift teams to add data to their accounts with a simple Slack command – removing the hassle of digging up credentials or creating test data manually.
Ready to learn some more about Josue? Let’s go ⚡
Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Catalina Carvajal: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to work at Drift?
Josue Villanueva: So I was born in Boston, but I was actually raised in El Salvador. I moved there when I was two years old and finally decided to move back to the United States when I was 16 years old. I am a first-generation Salvadoran/American, and also a first-generation college student, which has made my journey rather interesting.
I ended up at Drift thanks to a program called Hack.Diversity. This program helps minorities, boot camp graduates, and community college students find internships at Boston’s fastest-growing companies. Hack.Diversity provided me with training, mentoring, and coaching and connected me to the team at Drift. I wanted to work here because one of Drift’s leadership principles is to put the customer at the center of everything you do. And from my very first day, I was already working on projects to create value for Drift’s customers.
CC: What attracted you to Drift?
JV: What really attracted me to Drift is that interns (like me) have the same opportunities as full-time engineers. The program doesn’t limit you to the kinds of projects you can work on. Actually from the very beginning, I was told I’d be expected to take extreme ownership of all my work. As an engineer, that was music to my ears.
CC: What was your dream job as a kid?
JV: I’ve always wanted to be an engineer. Growing up in El Salvador, I didn’t have access to any technology. We didn’t even have electricity until the early 2000s. So I didn’t know that engineering was a job I could actually have, I just knew I liked taking things apart and putting them back together again. I was a very curious kid. I wanted to figure out how everything worked, so I was always trying to tear apart radios, TVs, or any toys that had some sort of mechanical motor. And when I finally moved back to the U.S., I learned more about engineering and realized that software can be so helpful, even for small communities such as the one I grew up in.
CC: What does a good day at Drift look like for you?
JV: A good day for me is when I get to collaborate with other engineers to solve problems. There’s an open culture here. People are so helpful and resourceful.
CC: What does a perfect weekend look like for you?
JV: One thing you need to know about me – I love learning and sharing with people. So a perfect weekend for me is when I get to volunteer at a hackathon or attend a tech event to keep learning or sharing skills with others.
CC: What podcasts are you listening to right now?
JV: There are two podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately. One of them is Machine Learning Guide where the host Tyler Renelle teaches listeners how machine learning works and shares tons of resources in each episode. And the second one is a super informative podcast called Artificial Intelligence by MIT researcher Lex Fridman. He always has interesting guests and talks a lot about how machine learning and AI is changing our world and how we humans are getting prepared for it.
CC: What’s something people don’t know about you?
JV: I’ve done pretty much everything on my own since I was 16. So for some people, it might seem weird for a 24 year old to still be in college. But I’m doing it 100% on my own, and for me, that’s an accomplishment.
CC: Any advice for people who are trying to figure out their own career path? JV: Do what you love, and forget about what people think about you. If you try hard enough, you will eventually be good at what you love. Persistence matters. So be persistent and don’t give up. And when all else fails, ask for help!