Hello world! My name is RAM Sánchez. I work as a Paid Social Analyst at Red Ventures, and I’m also a Road to Hire graduate. Since I was 9 years old, I’ve wanted to work at Red Ventures. It’s safe to say my “road to hire” has been a long one. But I’ll share more on that later.
In this series, I’ll share my takeaways from my first year at Red Ventures and explore how being a Road to Hire graduate has affected my experience. I’ll also take you on a trip around the world, as I share what I learned from shadowing teammates in New York City and São Paulo, Brazil!
Before we get started, I know you’re asking yourself at least one of these two questions:
- Why does this guy spell his first name in all capital letters?
- What the heck is Road to Hire?
Why do I spell my first name with all capital letters?
My full name is Robert Aaron Michael Sánchez.
The acronym RAM is a nickname that my sister came up with and it stuck. All throughout school, other jobs, and growing up in my family I’ve always been called RAM. To me, it’s my actual name.
(“Shouldn’t you be called RAMS then?” True. But then, like, I wouldn’t have a last name … )
What the heck is Road to Hire?
THIS is the most important question you can ask if you want to learn what my first year at Red Ventures has been like.
Road to Hire is a nonprofit sponsored by Red Ventures. It’s designed to help highly motivated young adults achieve their career goals without a college degree.
Road to Hire offers training in four career paths:
- Customer Support
- IT/Helpdesk Support
- Digital Marketing
- Software Engineering
In addition to career specific development, Road to Hire also offers soft skill development courses (like Toastmasters International) to make participants highly marketable in the job environment. Learn more about Road to Hire here.
Now that I’ve answered your burning questions, let me share a little more background on myself.
Why did I join Road to Hire?
Instead of the traditional route of going to a four-year university after highschool, I wanted to take full control of my future. I decided to take a gap year. My goal in that year was to use that time to gain new experiences, develop technical skills, and hopefully get closer to deciding what I wanted to do. (Because who really knows what they want to do at 17?)
Well, that one gap year turned into four years.
Here’s what I did during that time:
- Taught myself basic web development skills like HTML, CSS, and WordPress
- Worked at a small technology company, building 11 online platforms for clients
- Moved to New York volunteering full-time in a support role for an organization that, among other things, helps areas struck by natural disasters and develops educational and training programs at no cost
- Moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina for mission work
- Worked at safety consulting company doing online content production & editing
- Traveled to 10 different countries
After those four years, it was time. Time to move back to Charlotte, NC, and go to a university for Computer Science.
Enter, Stefanie Morales. Most people at Red Ventures know Stefanie Morales as a rock star recruiter and seasoned RVer, but to me, she’s just my big sister!
Remember when I said I’ve wanted to work here since I was 9?
I was that age when Stefanie started with RV. I remember coming to meet her for lunch during summer breaks – and even at that age I could tell that Red Ventures’ culture was special. A few years later our middle sister, Natalie Sanchez Ungvari, joined RV from 2013 – 2017. The way both my sisters talked about their careers here made me set the goal of joining the team one day.
Stefanie told me, “You’ve done nothing traditional so far. Why go to school for CompSci when Road to Hire will teach you exactly what you’re wanting to study? Why not avoid college debt and save your time?” It seemed too good to be true. A program where I would get paid to learn a new skill, hosted on Red Ventures’ Charlotte campus, and end up with a great job after?! Sold. It seemed like the perfect fit for me.
What was my Road to Hire experience like?
The curriculum is tough, and my cohort had to learn new concepts quickly. But, the Road to Hire team was there to provide the resources we needed to succeed. We had the opportunity to meet with a range of engineers and professionals at Red Ventures every week, who gave us their expert advice in real time. We learned engineering best practices and professional soft skills. Every couple of weeks, we worked with a totally new technology in step with (and often ahead of) industry standards. That alone is something most Computer Science majors can’t say when they graduate. In return, all we had to do was give 100% effort and focus on getting better every day.
In short, Road to Hire is not a hand-out, it’s a “hand-up”.
When it came time to graduate the program and start interviewing, we were well prepared. Road to Hire partners with employers like Bank of America, Novant Health, and Red Ventures to ensure all graduates have a defined path for growth after graduation. That is, if you pass the interview! (Don’t worry, Road to Hire also has plenty of practice interviews and résumé workshops throughout the process.)
What did I do after graduation?
I ended up accepting a position with Red Ventures. But this story is far from over – there was still a lot to learn. Thankfully, my new teammates and mentors were right by my side, helping me adjust to life as a full-fledged RV employee.
Because of RV’s fast-paced culture and emphasis on continuous learning, I’ve learned new skills and ways of working that I’m confident match the education I would have gained in a more “traditional” way. Plus, we constantly seek out and embrace feedback, which helps us get better every day.
The Road to Red Ventures
Like I mentioned, Road to Hire is a non-profit that helps young adults achieve economic mobility. We are actively combatting a huge issue facing the Charlotte community (and the country at large), so it would be easy for Road to Hire’s leadership team to think that’s enough. However, we all believe in paying our experience forward. In fact, two of Road to Hire’s core values are “Value Your Team” and “Leave It Better than You Found It.” Even though I’ve graduated, I still volunteer my time with the program and help current students adjust to the workload whenever I can. Recently, I had the opportunity to teach a programming language I use everyday to students in our Software Engineering Academy – across our Charlotte and Detroit offices.
Now that I’ve been working at Red Ventures for a year, I feel fully immersed in the culture here. Of course, I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, but I learned from them. Now, I get to own projects from start to finish, and it’s rewarding to see the direct impact that my work has for the team.
Up next: New York City
Road to Hire taught me a lot, but one of the most important lessons I learned was how to embrace opportunities when they come my way. In my next post, I’ll share how this mindset fueled adventures to some of RV’s offices across the world – starting with The Points Guy team in New York City. Stay tuned.