We had the good fortune of connecting with Victor Lara and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Victor, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I strongly believe that the most important factor behind my success was having access to a mentor. Being an undocumented immigrant, having non-English speaking parents, and growing up in
Souther central LA exposes you to a limiting world. As you can imagine I had a lack of resources in my high school, with no access to design courses, computer science, or the arts. It wasn’t until I met my lifelong mentor, Oscar Menjivar. His mission in life and the nonprofit he started, Teens exploring technology, was to expose kids like me to the world of code and design. I had no idea someone like me could get paid and work as a creative. In my neighborhood, people like me typically work in warehouses, construction, etc. Of Course, Having a mentor and access to this nonprofit was a big factor In my success, but having a strong resiliency to keep going through the struggles of being a first-generation college student and spending many years in a community college to transferring to a state school and landing over four internships, and a full-time six figure job out of college took so much handwork and perseverance.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a user experience designer working for a large tech company, I have the opportunity to work on products that help millions of people around the world. My current job is working on data privacy applications that ensure the protection of users’ data and help companies comply with Data regulations. Becoming a UX designer is a little difficult to get into, you need to have strategic thinking, empathy, be creative, and above all have a curious problem-solving mindset. I explored this career through various internships and since my college didn’t have any UX classes I had to become self-taught,
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, let me first mention that I am vegan so my itinerary will be a vegan foodies dream. I would start east in Pomona and visit Mi Cafecito to get a delicious mazapan oat milk latte followed by visiting the grain cafe for some awesome breakfast. For lunch, I would drive to Highland Park and get the best vegan chicken sandwiches at Wolfie’s Hot Chicken, and if you have space for it check out donut friend for delicious vegan donuts. I know you will be super full after all that so I love to take a walk around Pasadena and visit the shops there. My dinners plans would most definitely take me to Van Nuys and visit El Cocinero for the best vegan Mexican food that exists! I think that would be the perfect day for me!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Of course, I have to mention my parents who have always supported and encouraged my dreams of working as a designer. Also, like I mentioned in the previous question, Oscar Menjivar and the nonprofit Teens Exploring Technology who exposed me to design and tech and was the driving force for the career I have today. It really inspired me and continues to inspire me , so much so that Ive volunteered with the organization as a mentor for the past 5 years. Also, I want to thank Jed IrIsh Dar Juan for nominating me.