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David Aparicio and The Power of Initiative

Mar 01, 2024

Initiative. The force within that drives us to take action on our own.

Some folks have plenty of initiative, others could use a bit more of it (like me, if I’m being honest). Either way, one thing’s for certain: in the professional world there are few things as important as your initiative. 

One day, my supervisor informed me of an interesting person to interview. I hadn’t done an interview in a while, and most of the past ones had been with NYIT staff and faculty. 

This time, I would be interviewing a freshman by the name of David Aparicio, who is a bit of a rising star. What I mean with that last part is that this young fellow had achieved quite a bit despite being only a freshman. 

To be specific, he had scored two internships and connected with two mentors during his time at NYIT. These little tidbits would be the focus of my interview, which I proceeded to conduct on Thursday, February 8th, here at the Career Center. 

Tell me about yourself! Your year, major, and what your goals are, etc.

“My name is David Aparicio. I was born in the vibrant heart of Bogota, Colombia, a place that's etched into my identity. But the diverse streets of Brooklyn have been my home for most of my adolescence, shaping much of who I am today. I am currently studying at New York Institute of Technology majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Technology Entrepreneurship. I consider myself a leader and I’m passionate about any kind of technology. I’m trying to stay in the range of anything related to business and technology as well.”

Any particular field of technology that you’re passionate about?

“Right now, I’d say machine learning. It’s the most specific thing that I can mention right now. Even if I don’t have sufficient experience to gain an important role in the field, I want to guide my career to that specific path.”

What was your internship at Mango Mentors like?

“My internship at Mango Mentors is still going on. It’s a company that was built by students, for students. Students from Hunter and NYIT are being part of different projects happening inside the company, where everyone can learn and share their knowledge. We’ve been doing something related to AI as well, which is building an AI Chatbot using OpenAI API and mainly using Python. It’s something that we’ve been working on here and it’s in the development phase right now. But yeah, we’ve spent most of the winter break planning and doing the initiation process of the project so we can eventually start the development during this semester.”

Tell me about Greg Boyd, your mentor from Mango Mentors.

“I would say that he’s really experienced in what he knows, like related to business. When it comes to management, for me, he’s a really great leader. He helps me answer questions about management and stuff, like “how can I guide the team to meet specific goals” and all those kinds of things.”

“I met him at one of the networking events that was hosted by NYIT here around four months ago. He came here, we were talking about how to network and how to become a better leader. He mentioned his company mango mentors and I was really interested in being part of the company and starting up my career as a freshman.”

How did you develop your relationship with Greg Boyd?

“The first time I met him, it was here. I was proposing a new project to him though I didn’t have the expertise for guiding a team or starting a more technical project. That’s what I’m doing here, studying computer science and building those technical skills. So I told him that even though I don’t have that expertise yet, I’d be a part of the project.”

“He was really interested in that idea, so I kept pushing my interest in the company through LinkedIn. He started to tell me that any idea they had would be possible because of all the tools out there. But the hardest part would be managing and finding people for the project. So he proposed that I should start building my experience in leadership. So that’s how I started the mentor relationship. And any time I needed help with a specific task, I could send him a message and ask him for advice. That helped build that relationship. Asking and getting feedback from him.”

Tell me about your time at Trish Ruben.

“The main idea of the internship there was looking for human skills not performed by artificial intelligence. It’s basically doing research where we’re looking for those newer skills that would be required in the job market that the AI wouldn’t be able to do. AI and humans are two different things so we needed to find certain skills that could not be done for them and were in high demand.”

“We were meeting each week and discussing our discoveries. For example, if I find an article for critical thinking or an academic paper about creative points I would summarize it and talk about the skills the papers discussed. We talked about how these skills were related to the job market and how AI wouldn’t interfere with them. We stopped in the winter break because Trish went to teach a course at one of the universities she worked at. But we’re about to regroup and start the research again. Generally it’s been really great because it’s giving me the opportunity to develop my relationship with my mentor as well. She became my mentor eventually. I’m also learning a lot of stuff through the research, so it’s been really helpful.”

Tell me about your mentor, Trish Ruben.

“She became my mentor, so that if I had any specific questions about how to perform or act in a professional way, she was the one who was willing to guide me on that specific thing. I consider her my mentor and she’s been really helpful in this process.” 

How did you develop your relationship with Trish Ruben?

“Right, that’s an interesting part as well because the way that I met her was here at NYIT. She was giving a course where she was teaching skills, basically like a workshop, that was four weeks long. And we were meeting every Friday and being taught about important human skills that were important to learning how to act in a professional way. So basically, she was guiding us to become professional and start our careers. She gave us feedback, knowledge, and insights about how it’s like being in the job market and building relationships with different companies and all that. Eventually we went to one of the companies where we had the opportunity to interact and network with Sparks & Honey, a cultural intelligence consultancy which I found very interesting due to their Q Omni culture intelligence powered with AI.. So, she was the one who was guiding us and in that process, the relationship, seeing her as a mentor and in an internship doing research for one of her upcoming books.”

Where did you meet Trish Ruben?

“I’ll say here, in NYIT. If it wasn’t for NYIT and the career center events, the events that the career center holds, it wouldn’t be possible.”

“The one that I remember where I met Greg was called Networking 101 and for Trish Ruben it was here, in the conference room of this office, it was the course “Premium Skills”.

Is there anything you’ve learned from each of your internships? A bit of life advice or a lesson you gained that you’d like to share?

“I would recommend to everyone who is trying to build their career to start as soon as possible even if you don’t have the knowledge or the technical knowledge, or lets say the professional knowledge, you just have to put yourself out there and start creating the relationships. That’s the most important thing that I’ve learned through these opportunities.”

“Another thing is that you have to have the initiative to start and learn new things. So that’s what I’ve been learning, even when I didn’t have any knowledge about how to behave in a professional way, I’ve gotten onto the path to learning. I’m already pulling myself on that path. I would recommend to everyone, specifically if they are freshman, to put themselves in that specific path where they can start building their careers.”

“And I would like to add this: Inside of the internships you’re gonna level up your technical; and leadership skills. It really depends on the role that you are playing in the internship and the company, but what I’ve learned so far is that even with that initiative you have to put work and time into learning the other stuff: the technical and business stuff.”

With that, we shook hands and went our separate ways.

Like I said earlier and just like David said with his last few words: Initiative is very important in the professional world. David’s own initiative helped him to take charge, landing some great internships, building up his skills and making valuable connections. 

So don’t be afraid to go and put yourself out there, just like David did here at New York Tech.

Speaking of which, I later confirmed that he attended specific events such as “Connect and Thrive: Mastering Networking Fundamentals for Career Success”, where he met Greg Boyd and got his internship at Mango Mentors, and “Workplace Success in A New YORK MINUTE: Compete in an AI Business World”, where he met Trish Ruben and got his internship at Trish Ruben Ltd.

Events, workshops, internships, don’t be afraid to give them all a shot. Take initiative and advance your career journey!