Making Meaningful Impact with Pathrise Career Lead, Ash Ayvar De Alcaraz

About Ash

Full Name: Ash Ayvar De Alcaraz

Current Role: Career Lead

Location: Los Angeles

Time at Pathrise: 2.5 years

The 411: In a nutshell, what is your day to day role like at Pathrise? 

As a Career Lead, I manage a team of Career Mentors. My role mostly involves auditing, providing customer support, strategic planning, and figuring out the next steps, especially in the context of job searching. My work also includes administrative tasks and various projects aimed at improving and optimizing processes for the career team.Besides my team of mentors, I also have a small caseload of high touch fellows. . It’s a wide variety of  very different but rewarding responsibilities.

You’ve been in career coaching for several years now. What drew you to this path?

My career journey has been so rewarding, though certainly winding and surprising at times. I was homeschooled and didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career like so many other teenagers seemed to know– no direction. My only life plan was to do everything together with my twin sister! . But then she decided to become a chef. Totally off plan! She became an amazing chef, but I had to reevaluate. So I started at community college, considering a career as a therapist in prisons due to my interest in criminal psychology – I could never get enough of CSI and Criminal Minds. But my career counselor, who worked with first-generation Latinos, introduced me to career counseling. I fell in love with it.It aligned with my passion for psychology and even detective shows. I got to help people assess their goals, skills, and personalities, then identify the roles that might be the best fit, and make a plan to snag their dream job. Blending personal and analytical skills was perfect for me.

Simultaneously, you’ve pursued academic studies in anthropology, education, and now you’re working towards your PhD in organizational leadership at Pepperdine😲 How has your work informed your studies and vice versa?

My academic background has always been the base that sets me apart. I love to deeply understand things and apply theory in practice. It helps build trust with the people I work with because I can show them why something matters and why it’s important. This way, they feel they’re getting expert support. Education is a key factor in building relationships with fellows and gaining buy-in. Plus, it gives me fresh strategies when I need new ideas. I’m so excited to be back in school, even though it’s hard work. It’s an exciting journey!

So, you’re coaching full time, working towards your PhD and you’re involved in many things outside of Pathrise. Tell me a bit about your experience with Latinas in Tech and as a founding member of Latinas in Los Angeles for Good.

I have a wide variety of passions and hobbies outside of my work. I’m passionate about creativity and always make sure I have an outlet for it, whether it’s the arts or a media project. Secondly, I’m committed to giving back to my community–I was part of Pathrise’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for women so I’ve been exploring other avenues, like the tech community, especially with women of color. Before joining Pathrise, I gave free coaching to women of color, connecting and supporting them in their careers. It’s been rewarding and I’ve met some fantastic people along the way.

Let’s dive into Latinas in Los Angeles for Good. Also, what is Grapevine?

Latinas in Los Angeles for Good conducts research to identify initiatives in Los Angeles that are worth supporting, raises funds, then allocates the raised funds through a group-based democratic process.The fundraising platform we use is Grapevine, which allows groups like ours to raise money for events and important social causes. Latinas in Los Angeles for Good is a part of Grapevine–we have our own dedicated hub on the platform.

Got it. What has been one of your most memorable experiences where you’ve gotten to see your organization’s impact?

One project I particularly cherish working with Latinas in Tech involves a group of creative women in tech, who are also musicians. They organize a two-week boot camp for girls aged eight to 18, teaching them music and wrapping up with a community performance. The camp provides access to music education for young girls who might not have had the opportunity otherwise. I was so grateful to have the chance to contribute by helping youth and professionals in the same space. It was a truly amazing project, involving youth support, fund allocation, and professional development workshops.

Speaking of music, let’s talk about your company Desmadre y Medio. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Desmadre y Medio hosts shows with local bands and artists. It’d been a passion project for me and my partner. We met 11 years ago– my partner had always been involved in the creative scene, organizing art galleries and showcasing various artists. About two years ago, he also started hosting two art shows annually: one in Los Angeles and another in Mexico City. These events feature underground local bands and artists, and we go all out. He’s developed brands, including a podcast for interviews with local artists, and provides them with a platform. Recently, we partnered with an emerging band, Los Cogelones, sponsoring their visit to the United States from Mexico City. I handle logistics like flight schedules and coordination with our team in Mexico, as well as manage social media for both events and band. It’s become a larger project than we initially anticipated!  

What’s next for Desmadre y Medio?

Our big dream is to have a warehouse with a studio, an event space, and a shared creative hub. It would be a place where artists can reserve space to record, stay, and perform events. The idea is to offer a place where artists don’t have to rent a costly bar venue; they can use our space and make money from ticket sales at the door, while we generate income from the bar. It’s all about creating a supportive space for everyone to grow together.

I really love that. Artist spaces give communities so much vibrance and life, but sometimes are priced out of areas as they gentrify. They aren’t given their due credit for bringing character to communities. 

Anyhow, there are a number of factors contributing to the underrepresentation of POC, particularly Indigenous, Black and Latinx individuals, in tech. For women, the representation is even less. Have these disparities influenced your decision to pursue career coaching in the tech space?

Absolutely–supporting women of color and people of color, in general, is a huge motivator for me. It’s what keeps me engaged with Pathrise, drives me to help fundraise, and fuels me to host exciting events. . I strive to stay updated and share knowledge because I want to make a difference in people’s lives and impact future generations. If we can help one person secure a solid role and show them their potential, it can change the game for them, their kids, and so much more. That’s a significant part of why I do what I do and whom I choose to focus on.

Is there anything from your volunteering or creative experiences that has changed your perspective on your role at Pathrise? 

I absolutely respect  the traditional path to tech–a technical degree from a top university can open so many doors, and it’s never too early to start learning to code or another tech skill. But this is certainly not the only path. It’s easy to neglect less traditional routes to tech, that come with valuable and much needed new perspectives.. My experience with alternative paths to tech come from volunteering at Homeboy Industries, an organization in LA that supports formerly incarcerated individuals. Despite facing significant barriers and limitations, they had a strong drive to succeed and unique perspectives. . Similarly, my work with Desmadre y Medio introduced me to the world of freelancing and getting paid for creative work. These experiences have been game-changers, helping me assist undocumented individuals and broaden my understanding of diverse career journeys. My creative and volunteering experiences not only give me a unique perspective, but also an appreciation for non-traditional paths to tech that so many Pathrise fellows take

You’ve spent some time on the recruiting side too, not only sourcing alongside me here, but also working with Hired.com. What’s something you’ve seen on the hiring side that you feel fellows and other coaches would benefit from knowing?

Recruiting gave me a fresh perspective on sourcing–I saw first  hand how intense the competition is for jobs, especially for positions at major companies like Google. I’ve come to realize how important a job seeker’s personal brand is. The difference is stark when you look at someone who’s been with a company for 10, 12, or 15+ years and isn’t actively engaged on platforms like LinkedIn. Some hiring managers might avoid them, assuming they’re overqualified, unwilling to switch companies, or too costly. I now understand the nuances from recruiting and hiring manager’s points of view, which helps me understand what makes a candidate marketable and sought after.

With so many different interests, pursuits and a management role, how do you balance it all? Other than being Superwoman😉

I thrive on staying busy. I’ve consistently held multiple jobs and pursued various activities. Being constantly engaged fuels my productivity and happiness. Even on the busiest days with the tightest deadlines, I find fulfillment. I remind myself that if I can stay up all night and enjoy social outings, I can dedicate the same energy to the things that truly matter to me, like my work and giving back. It’s all about making those sacrifices.

Working in any people-facing support field can be challenging. What are some of the tough moments you’ve navigated as a coach?

Before Pathrise, I reached a point of burnout just before the pandemic hit. I was working in higher education, one of two career counselors for around 4,000 students. It was a role where you give a lot and care deeply, feeling the weight of potentially changing lives. After a year and a half, I burned out. I realized I cared too much and had to pivot out. I took a two-month break and then joined Pathrise. Since then, I’ve been more intentional about setting hard deadlines for myself. I dedicate time on Saturdays and Sundays to reconnect, which has been quite helpful in preventing burnout.

What motivates you to push forward in your studies, volunteering and career?

I absolutely love that question. My primary motivation comes from my personal goals and my desire to dream big. I believe in pushing myself to the limits while I have the energy and youth on my side, and before I start a family. I love to see other women thriving and creating their space. I want to show them that unconventional leaders like myself, who are more introverted and not traditionally professional, can succeed and make an impact.

What is your favorite Pathrise cultural value?

“Rising up together” resonates with me. It signifies the importance of teamwork and collaboration and really aligns with my values. I believe that when individuals can be innovative, collaborate effectively, and achieve something collectively, it’s more meaningful and impactful than one person shining alone. It’s all about shared success and progress.

What are some things you’d like to see more of here?

Cross-department collaboration for sure. Our offsite meetings have consistently left us brimming with new ideas. The energy and sense of learning are invigorating. However, when we return to our remote workspaces, we tend to get siloed. I’d love to see the momentum we generate during offsite gatherings translated into our everyday work culture more.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with someone who is new to career coaching in the tech space?

I’d advise staying curious–it’s the backbone of trying new things and staying updated with the latest trends. Additionally, step into your voice. Many people can feel intimidated about speaking from the perspective of an expert, but they can definitely do it.

What’s next for you?

I plan to continue with career coaching, which is my first love and the foundation of my work. In the next two to three years, I anticipate completing my PhD. My ultimate goal is to become the head of a department in an organization, leveraging my expertise in organizational leadership and education to drive a positive cultural shift. I want to focus on change management and create a more conducive work culture because I see it as a significant challenge for many organizations. Additionally, I’m passionate about providing professional development opportunities for employees, as I believe in giving back and helping them grow in their careers. My vision is to combine these elements in a meaningful way to make an impact.

Thank You!🙏🏾

 

 

Erica Holloway

Erica Holloway is a recruiter with close to a decade of talent acquisition experience in the ed-tech and startup space. She currently leads Pathrise's recruiting efforts, touching on roles in career coaching, operations, engineering, sales, marketing and more. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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