Getting to know datacenter employees: Angelica Alves
Datacenter Employee Spotlight is designed to bring recognition both to DC Techs who went through the Datacenter Academy or support their peers through mentorship and volunteerism. The spotlights also work to illuminate real-life examples of pathways into IT careers and provide potential role models to those looking to access to the digital economy.
Introducing Angelica Alves
Employee since January 2020
Angelica Alves is a first-generation American, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, where her family came directly from Brazil. Angelica grew up with friends from all different kinds of cultures, backgrounds, and languages. “I really do think that that formed such a big part of who I am as a person today, and who I am as a professional today.” Angelica is also a first-generation college graduate. When she was growing up through the education system, Angelica’s parents knew nothing about SAT tests or financial aid. She remembers hearing the philosophy “work hard and you will reap the benefits” but didn’t have the background for a “work hard and pair that with a proper education and schooling” mentality. Both of her parents grew up in the countryside of Brazil and dropped out of standard schooling before high school. Angelica feels fortunate to have been born in the United States with citizenship that afforded her things like financial aid and many other benefits that her parents and her friends didn’t get.
The path to technology
Initially, Angelica wanted to be a nurse and she enrolled in community college. Today, Angelica is an advocate for community college because of the support, small class sizes, close instruction, and tutoring opportunities. She attended the John Tyler Community College in Chester, Virginia, and graduated with an Associate Degree in General Studies with a pre-BSN specialization. She was on the cusp of taking tests to get into nursing when her brother got a job working for Microsoft as a vendor in southern Virginia. They moved together to southern Virginia where Angelica quickly realized that she could not afford to go to nursing classes while working part time. Her brother, who had always been interested in technology, told her to try going to the IT Academy at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC). While hesitant at first, Angelica attended the academy and discovered that she enjoyed technology and the hands-on work. Angelica completed the courses, got two certifications in IT, and immediately landed a job as a vendor for Microsoft. Angelica worked as a vendor for about seven months before becoming a full-time employee. “I am so grateful to my brother for pushing me to try this. I’m really glad I got into IT.” Angelica’s brother is now a content developer for Microsoft. Angelica hit the ground running as an FTE and is excited about her future with Microsoft and the many paths she can follow.
Angelica’s superpower is perseverance. “The reason I say that perseverance is a superpower is that when you get knocked down 99 times, you still keep getting up. IT was new to me, IT is still new to me, so a lot of times new equipment or a new server comes in, and it completely baffles me. But I always persevere.” When Angelica gets stuck, she knows that she will learn how to do it if she keeps going. Angelica pursued a new career experience and worked with the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) team from her organization for six months. The experience was hard because she had to push herself out of her box and go into the corporate world doing project management work. Some days Angelica felt like she was fumbling with new tasks or new learning experiences. “I think by admitting your faults and learning and continuously growing and having an open mind, you can shine in whatever you’re doing, no matter how menial or meaningful it might be.”
A day in the life
Angelica’s typical day-to-day starts with going to work and looking at her tasks for the day. While every day is different, the tasks Angelica might do include working on servers, fiber cables, or network devices. Some days she could be working on very easy part replacements, while others she is working on extremely hard server diagnoses. Angelica’s favorite thing to do is her work with D&I. “It’s something I am passionate about. I work closely with our Diversity and Inclusion team, I am a co-lead for a number of groups, I’m a D&I ambassador, and I am the creator and chairperson of the D&I committee at my site.” Angelica runs D&I events that bring awareness to different groups of people and different cultures. Her favorite part is watching people learn something new and being a part of their growth. For Angelica, teaching people is an instant reward. “When you see the lightbulb going off in someone’s head, that’s so exciting.” Training includes a system of “I show you one time, I show you the second time, and then the third time you show me.” Angelica’s D&I involvement takes a lot of work, a lot of understanding, and a lot of self-reflection. “I really love all of the aspects of it, even the painful ones because it brings growth and that is so important.”
Favorite childhood food
Growing up, Angelica’s favorite memories associated with food were birthday parties. “I remember all the birthday parties being Brazilian-style barbecue, and I especially remember the sweets. All of the sweets were handmade.” A particular favorite included a powdered milk-based dessert rolled by hand into little balls called doce de leite ninho. Docinhos de festa are still her favorite at a Brazilian birthday party. The colorful, delicious treats, the scent of the barbecue charcoal in the air, and the laughter are Angelica’ favorite food memories. “When I think of a Brazilian barbecue, I think of joy. We turn off all the problems of the outside world and we just enjoy that moment.”