June 1, 2022

Interview: Meet The Latina Meta Employee Creating A Platform For International Students To Land A Job In America

Diana Vicezar is a Paraguayan entrepreneur studying Computer Science, Cognitive Science, and Data Science at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA. Originally born in a small country called Paraguay, home to roughly seven million people, the technologist is set to work for Meta this summer as a project designer intern.

Apart from her UX designer experience – she is also the founder of Mapis, a platform designed specifically for international students on a mission to help them access the career guidance they need during internship and job hunting in the United States.

How did she form the idea? The struggle for one of Vicezar’s friends to obtain an H1B sponsorship was mentally taxing. She said her friend became almost depressed when she found out that the company she previously worked for would not sponsor her.

As a result, the friend had to quit her job and leave the US earlier than intended.  One conversation led Vicezar to seek out more, in the hopes of gauging just how widespread frustration with the internship search process was among other international students and that;s when Mapis came about.

But she’s had to put in a lot of work to get to where she is now.

What are three words to best describe you?

Creative, very passionate, and all about making an impact

What about your journey getting into tech?

So I come from Paraguay, which is a tiny country in South America. I grew up in a community where it was technologically disconnected from all the other cities in the overall country.

I come from a low-income family, so we didn’t really have the resources to own a phone, a laptop or computer when I was younger. So I didn’t have experience with technology until I was in school in the capital city. That was a moment when I realized the disconnection that my community had from the rest of the world was huge.

But I had this desire to know more. So I started watching videos on how to code and reading articles on how to code everything in Spanish because, at that time, I didn’t know a word in English.

And then I got a scholarship to study English, thanks to the US Embassy in Paraguay. So I started English and as my English got better, my coding skills also got better.

They’ve been challenges of course but what has kept you going throughout your journey?

There are always going to be challenges and difficult moments that you will have to go through. If you want to get into this industry, you will think about giving up many times, and that’s okay.

It was very difficult for me to enter the sector and I once gave up….but then I missed it [working in tech] and I came back.

So alongside your studies and your upcoming internship with Meta – you’re also building your own platform?

Mapis is the career platform for international students in the United States. We provide guidance on how to access internships, fellowships, and entry-level job.

During the summer of 2020, amid a pandemic and in preparation for my first semester of college, I decided to spend my free time connecting with other international students. 

From May to December 2020, I had conversations with over 100 graduate and undergraduate international students studying in the United States. However, what started out as a way to make new friends and get some academic advice ended up motivating me to create Mapis.

We support them by providing access to professional and academic opportunities open to international students (internships, entry-level jobs, fellowships, conferences, exploratory programs, etc.)

Hosting exclusive events on career development topics led by experienced professionals working at top US companies and coaching students in their career exploration and opportunity search processes through 1-1 advising sessions.

You’re balancing a lot – from school, work and your own startup. How do you do it?

One thing I’ve learned is transparency is key. One thing that I think has helped me is telling my professors about what I am doing, most of the time, they are very excited and supportive and some are willing to give me extensions.

Give yourself some me-time – meditate and do some sports.

But for me, as someone who is on full financial aid in school, I need to have school as my priority so as much as I try to focus on my business it’s important for me to make sure my attention is on my education.

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Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.