Meet Jose Ayala: PM Intern & First-Generation Mexican American

Headline: Meet Jose Ayala: PM Intern and FIrst-Generation Mexican American Image: Jose sitting at a table outdoors, smiling

Starting your career in tech can be a challenge. In this Q&A, Jose Ayala discusses how his project management internship at Medallia is setting him up for future success.

Diversity is at the heart of how Medallia operates. It’s simply part of our DNA. We’re constantly finding ways to weave diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) into our efforts to support and build our communities from the inside and out. While we demonstrate this in so many ways, one example is our partnerships with mission-based organizations to help close the opportunity divide. Leading into this past Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, Medallia partnered with Year Up to onboard a few interns to aid the start of their careers in tech, including our project management intern, Jose Ayala.

Jose was born and raised in the East Bay in Hayward, California as the middle child of three boys. He is a first-generation high school graduate and a Latino in tech. Growing up, his biggest inspiration has always been his father, who had to move to the U.S. at a very early age, coming into a foreign land with a new culture and language. Jose Ayala as a baby in his dad's armsI sat down with Jose to learn about how being a first-generation Mexican American motivates him to pursue furthering his education and expanding his growth mindset.

How has being a first-generation Mexican American impacted you on your journey of reaching your goals, and have you experienced any challenges getting here today? 

Being first-generation and a Latino in tech is an amazing journey. It shows my family a different path in life that I can take in my career. Coming into the large tech world with very few connections, it can be a scary reality to overcome — challenging my skills while self-advocating for myself by allowing my work to best represent what I do and who I am. I truly appreciate all the opportunities that have been given to me to have a chance to gather, mature, and harness my skills while figuring out how a remote workforce works. 

Having the guidance and resources to plan your career is a plus for most people that have access to it. Coming from immigrant parents that have held minimum-wage jobs, technology is very new to them. Even with many basic soft skills, I’ve had to go the extra mile to do my own research to learn these fundamentals and to get up to speed while others already have this knowledge to start with. 

There are so many tech companies to choose from for your first tech internship and job. Why did you pick Medallia?

Growing my career in tech was my initial goal as to why I joined Medallia. I wanted to be at a great place that could help me in my professional development to gain key skills in data analysis, communication, public speaking, computer applications for project management, etc. I wanted to learn the core skills needed and be on a team that allowed me to collaborate with a variety of teams and have a chance at being remote. Everyone is working remotely these days, and Medallia is a remote-first company. 

A big selling point for me after being introduced through Year Up was you. Having a manager, and also a mentor in Aimee Dunner, who both seemed invested in my career growth and really listened to my needs in getting my start in the SaaS world has been awesome. It’s really nice to have support from amazing women in tech, as you are knowledgeable, patient, and passionate about my growth as a young professional on our team.

Being here for three months now, what can you say about Medallia’s company culture?

Medallia being a remote organization is quite interesting. As an intern, I feel I am heard and listened to. Our work-life balance is pretty great, and our team totally practices this in our day-to-day. I am given more time to increase my sustainability and mental health, increasing my contribution and productivity to my team. Although remote,  the company has structured its ability to allow its employees to feel incorporated into the normal work life, as one would in the office. 

The team hosts a variety of celebrations and virtual events like Hispanic Heritage Month, emERGe week (the annual employee resource group summit), and now this month’s Global Week of Giving to bring the community together.

As a Mexican American, I really enjoy the appreciation and care that the company is providing to its employees. Medallia’s diversity, collaboration, and passion for its people creates a positive and welcoming culture. I also joined our Latinx employee resource group (ERG) during my second week as an intern. A group photo of this quarter’s Medallia interns

Could you share some projects you’ve been working on in your first 60 days?

I have been able to work on many different types of projects and have learned quite a bit along the way, such as plan development, time management, and furthering my knowledge of common project management methods. 

I have had the opportunity to get my hands involved in a lot! One project that really stands out to me is our “Welcome New Medallians” program. It’s fun and has an amazing goal that allows our remote community to feel embraced into the company. This really gave me the opportunity to showcase my design skills, which I was excited about. 

Outside of project management and school, what else are you interested in?

Hiking is a hobby I’ve slowly been picking up. Hiking has been very helpful in improving and managing my mental health, reducing stress, and getting my heart rate up while requiring no special equipment. It’s been a great getaway from work. It gives me time to clear my head for a bit, think to myself, and plan for upcoming events. Walking different trails, getting lost in nature, and seeing amazing views I can only see through long hikes. Some of my favorite trails to go hiking on are Garin Park, Lake Chabot, and Coyote Hills Regional Parks.  

Fun fact! I also enjoy doing mechanic work, specifically on early 2000 model Chevy vehicles which is my general expertise, although I have worked on all types of vehicles. I love the fundamentals of the different parts in a car — each having its own function yet still working together — making the car have power in order to enable its mobility.

Jose working as a mechanic on a Chevy Silverado truck

What are you excited about in your journey at Medallia and after your internship?

Elevating my skills and gaining experience in project management is my first priority in my internship. Interning here has given me the opportunity to grow and succeed so far in my time here. I am able to network throughout the company, collaborating with teams to fully understand the impact my work is doing to help other teams.

My manager and team are helping me build my professional brand. Being engaged in the community as if I’ve been here forever is simply amazing! My contributions to the team never go unnoticed. Everyone’s working together — allowing for an increase in performance and job satisfaction, reducing stress, and exposing possible future risks, leading to a better outcome. I really get excited to come to work every day and tackle a new project and learn something new and meet new colleagues.

I’m excited for the outcome at the end of my Medallia internship, as I am taking in constructive criticism to grow and build upon each day. I truly believe that this opportunity gave me my first step into the real workforce as a Latino in tech, uplifting my relevant skills while picking up new ones to handle projects better and add value to them. Being a talent brand project manager opened up my eyes to the start of my career with the right set of circumstances to help anticipate challenges and take them head-on. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m excited to take what I’ve learned here to the other big tech organizations.

See more great stories of our Medallians and learn more about opportunities for internships and careers. Sign up for our Talent Community today!