TECH – Alumni Spotlights highlight the success of THF alumni in technology roles. Vinston is currently working as a Software Engineer at Twilio, a cloud communications platform.
Vinston Guillaume (THF ’18)
Tell us about your position with Twilio.
I am currently a Software Engineer at Twilio. I’m a part of the Platform Access team, where our main objective is to build tools and applications that help empower the other software engineers in the company working on other projects.
What do you like most about your company?
I like the level of opportunity and responsibility Twilio gives their engineers. Even as a recent graduate I was given the ability to start writing code and contribute to my team’s goals immediately. In my first three months at Twilio, I have learned so much and experienced a lot more than I think I would have at most companies.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in tech?
I decided to pursue a career in tech because I’ve always had a strong passion for technology and programming. There is great satisfaction in being able to create something that people use/rely on a daily basis, which being in tech gives me the ability to do that. I can honestly say I haven’t had a day yet that feels like I’m working, I feel like I’m just enjoying one of my hobbies.
What are your major responsibilities and what does a typical day look like for you?
My major responsibilities mostly are coding, project planning and attending meetings. I usually come into work, catch-up on what I did the previous day, attend whatever meetings I have that day, and spend the rest of my time coding and fixing/finding bugs in our software.
What skills are most essential to be effective in your role?
Problem-solving is definitely the most important skill. It’s one thing knowing how to code, but to be able to solve business problems with programming is very essential in this field. I think that’s what separates most candidates from the others and especially what employers look for the most in applicants. I also think being an avid learner and not being afraid to ask questions are also very necessary skills to have.
How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
T. Howard Foundation was extremely influential in my career. I learned so much from orientation and from my internship placement that I would have never learned at school. Having the ability to be surrounded by ambitious and like-minded students was very refreshing and motivating. I credit a lot of my early professional success to the T. Howard Foundation and I hope students take advantage of their resources and opportunities.
What advice would you give to THF interns/other alumni as they being their careers?
I would advise THF interns and other alumni to find two types of mentors: one in their career field and one who isn’t. For me, having two different types of mentors provided me with priceless insight and advice that I couldn’t have received by myself.
Having a mentor in tech allowed me to continue to level up my abilities and get a taste of expectations and desired skills in the professional world prior to me entering it. Having a mentor in a different field, in this case, marketing, was also key because although he wasn’t familiar with the tech world, he offered a unique perspective that was extremely valuable to my professional development.
Having to explain my tech-centric problems, which weren’t familiar to him, exposed different solutions that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.