Boilers & Beyond – Abe Zaragoza

From Kokomo, Indiana, Abe came to Purdue University to explore his passion in Computer Graphics Technology. Along the way, he met some amazing people and fell in love with our Purdue community so much so he is staying to aid local organizations and is considering joining a graduate program here! Keep reading to see what he’s been up to.

When did you graduate and what did you study Abe?

I graduated spring 2019 and I studied Computer Graphics Technology with a focus in Web Programming and Design.

What inspired you to choose Computer Graphics Technology?

Growing up, I loved being around all types of technology. I decided to come to Purdue because I wanted to learn more about what I can do, especially since I started using Photoshop and other software. The curiosity from my childhood turned into a passion which lead me to pursue a major in Computer Graphics Technology with a concentration in Web Programming and design.

While at Purdue, what dining operation did you work at?

As a sophomore, I started at Windsor with a bunch of my friends because we wanted to get a job together, which then lead me to make many more friends. Later on, my coworkers who knew of my skills with computer software told me I should join the Student Success team with Mary Jo so I applied and got the job as a junior.

What did you do as a Student Success Intern?

While everyone else mostly worked with bigger projects to help students in dining, I helped create the creative aspects such as marketing through hiring posters, logos, etc. Some other projects I’ve worked on are our training videos, I’ve also been a mentor to the other interns or ambassadors that came after me as well. 

Any advice for students who are interested in looking for a job in dining?

It is important to take little steps and create opportunities for yourself. For me, coming from a creative background you might think it’s hard to apply your skills in a dining job but you can find ways like I did in helping make flyers for Windsor. You can also grow other skills such as communication, leadership, and teamwork. You do not need to jump straight to the highest position or find a job that fits your major as there are learning opportunities everywhere. 

That’s great advice! Besides work, were you part of any clubs at Purdue?

I did join many but I stuck with the Japanese Student Association because I was interested in Japanese culture and society. However, my longest membership is with the PokemonGo club! I really like the game and it helped me meet new friends with similar interests and pass the time! Especially now with COVID it can be fun to play these games just on your phone and walk around with friends at a distance.

That sounds so fun! So, what are you up to now?

Since graduation, I have found numerous opportunities free-lancing for organizations by helping set up portfolios, websites, etc. I have found a permanent position at Baptist Student Foundation with the Campus Ministry group by helping them set up live streaming equipment, their social media, design flyers, some IT work, and more. I was thinking of applying for grad school but due to COVID I decided to put that on hold until the spring.

How did you find these job opportunities?

I just search to see what places are interested in my skill set. The other part is networking so from doing one job, my name got spread to other organizations that might need my help. So it’s good to reach out to different groups as overtime you will get people more reaching out to you. It is important to take different jobs, even if your unsure at times, as it gives you experience and a wider network of people you could potentially work with.

Looks like you have found yourself a good network here at Purdue! Now let’s move to some fun questions. What is your current favorite activity to do to pass the time?

It’s PokemonGO! During COVID there is not many safe outdoor activities but with Pokemon Go you can safely play, talk, and interact at a distance. I also like being active so being able to walk around Purdue campus or other areas is a fun way to have fun and exercise. It is good to go outside and enjoy the weather, especially during this time.

How about activities indoors such as new shows you’re watching that you’d recommend to others?

I like watching anime with my roommates and another Student Success intern named Ethan Brown introduced me to Haikyuu!!. It is a sports anime and I never really explored that genre, but I enjoy it because it’s down to earth, its not too crazy, and I like the characters. I would highly recommend it even for beginner anime watchers.

How about your favorite place you have traveled to pre-quarantine?

Hmmmmm let me think about this one. Honestly my hometown Kokomo. I know it’s close but I actually can’t go back as often as I want. I enjoy being around family and feel how much support they give me when I do come home. Even though I don’t do much for them now, they know how hard I work and are always showering me in support. My friends in Kokomo and the usually places I spend time at, even if I don’t go back for like a year, always remember me and give me their support too. Sometimes I even get free stuff!

That’s so sweet! How about your favorite aspect about PD&C?

Definitely being able to meet so many talented people. Even back at Windsor where we do basic work you can hear stories from others about the amazing stuff they do. I still collaborate with those coworkers I made connections with. We may not work for dining anymore, but those connections from our shared experience gave me a great network I can depend on for help.

You mentioned earlier you were thinking about applying to graduate school, what do you want to study and where?

Well, as you know during my undergrad I was studying Computer Graphic Technology, but as I was finishing my major I started considering staying for a major in User Experience. I decided to not spend more years in undergrad, maybe I should take it on as a graduate program at Purdue. I had took one course in undergrad and fell in love. I’d really like to stay here at Purdue as I made great connections and it’s convenient to be close to home. I am looking at other schools, but I’ve grown so much here and I love the community.

Why do you want to choose a program in User Experience?

It reminded me of my experiences with my family, as it can help first-generation immigrants like me feel more comfortable while doing tasks like paying bills, going to parent-teacher conference, etc. It can help lessen the language barrier and others issues to give everyone a better user experience. Not just immigrants, but also those with disabilities, the elderly who may be confused of using new tech, and anyone who needs a little extra help. 

How long would it take to complete the program?

About 2 years, it’s not too bad.

What are you plans after that?

Hopefully I can join a company or a team to help organizations in the community. Maybe help companies with their branding and fulfill their dreams of what they want their company to look like.  Eventually I want to lead a team of designers on my own and be able to mentor other people. I want to help a lot of people as a user experience designer. 

Happy Friday everyone! We’re about to enter spooky season so we hope you all bought long sleeves, sweaters, and other clothes to keep yourself warm. We suggest grabbing some hot chocolate and cider from the markets as well to have a cozy fall season. 

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