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Changing the Face of Tech by Closing the Digital Divide

by: Martin Vargas Vega
Martin Vargas Vega Digital Nest

The Digital Divide: a definition

The Digital Divide is a term that has gained traction in the last couple of years, and specifically during 2020. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of The Digital Divide is the "economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not."

This Digital Divide has not only been magnified by the pandemic, but it also has brought it to the forefront of issues that not only America has solved, but of the world as well.

A solution to the digital divide: The Digital NEST

Hence, the Digital NEST, was created in 2014 to specifically tackle this problem. The Digital NEST mission is to connect youth to a skill-building community that transforms them into professionals who can create successful careers, innovative solutions, and prosperous communities.

The vision is to create sustainable and scalable technology career centers in vulnerable communities all over California and beyond.

I have had the honor to be part of the Digital NEST since it’s inception: I'm a founding member of the organization. If it wasn’t for the Digital NEST, I wouldn't have found a place in tech, and would have given up my aspirations to be a software engineer. Not because I did not have the drive and commitment to be an engineer, but I lacked the resources to do so.

My journey into technology

My journey into tech has been a nonlinear one; however, through this journey I have been able to work closely with the Digital NEST. The NEST has been a guiding figure for me in my journey, but has also influenced me in helping the next generation of technologists get into the field.

The journey started for me in high school. At the time, I was limited to my exposure to technology and didn't have access to a personal computer of my own.

When it came to applying to universities and deciding on a major, I decided to pursue a Computer Science degree. But was deviated away from applying, because my school lacked the necessary classes and exposure to make me a competitive candidate for any CS major in the state.

For a lot of individuals in the U.S., this is where the journey into tech would have ended. This also would have been the case for me, had it not been for the Digital NEST.

As a member of the Digital NEST, I was able to explore and have access to cameras, computer, video and graphic software, and exposure to a world of technology that I didn’t even know that existed.

"According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of The Digital Divide is the "economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not."

Next Step: Developing a Technology and Creative Youth Agency

From there, Digital NEST grew to develop a technology and digital creative youth agency known as bizzNEST. The opportunity that we saw was that we had a pool of talented youth, but no employers to hire them.

We created bizzNEST to provide budget-friendly web design, video, graphic design, and photography services that help propel a business forward. Through bizzNEST, we were not only just able to support local business by helping them create a digital presence, but also employ our members to help their families and community.

An advocate for life

Now, I am in the position of being an advocate, connector, mentor to the Digital NEST and its members.

This past year, I was able to help groups of members make the jump into the Software engineering industry by holding resumes, interviewing, and coding workshops for them to prepare for interviews and benefits negotiations.

At the same time, I help organizations and tech companies invest into the vision of the Digital NEST.

Making the jump to engineering

Through my involvement with the Digital NEST, I was ultimately able to land an amazing opportunity with Habu as a software engineer.

It is rare in this industry to find a company that aligns with both your personal and professional values. We at Habu don’t have all the answers; I don’t think anyone does. But what we do have is the commitment in supporting Education and Equal Access causes for all.

Habu: supporting education and equal access

You might think, what is a data clean room company doing in the philanthropic work of Education and Equal Access?

Just as we look at the future of marketing and ad technology (mar-tech and ad-tech) and see the importance of innovating and forward thinking in the industry, we also apply that same mindset in investing, supporting, and building a relationship with organizations like the Digital NEST to develop the next wave of technology trailblazers.