Posted 5 hours ago
Proposed by Intelligence
In honour of Native American Heritage Month in November, we recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Native Americans. Meet Georgia Sandoval, Intel Engineer and DinÃ© Woman, as she shares her experience, her journey to a technology career, and the impact of the Intel Native American Network Employee Resource Group. She also explains how mentors and internships helped inspire her as she achieved her goals.
Tell us about your background, your family, where and how you grew up.
I am a DinÃ© woman from the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. My maternal clan is Coyote Pass from Wheatfields, Arizona, and my paternal clan is Bitter Water. I grew up on the reserve with my three sisters and two brothers and graduated from Tuba City High School. My parents raised me with our cultural beliefs, where we spent our weekends in a sweat lodge thanking and attending family ceremonies. I grew up with amazing views of the desert, a recognition for running water and electricity, and a love for local stray animals. I remember my dad installed a cat flap at one point to allow cats in need to get checked out by the local vet. I think back to my experiences on the reserve with rose-colored glasses because I miss the comfort of my people. Leaving the reservation to go to school hurt my soul in so many ways, especially with the culture shock of not being in my homeland anymore.
When did you join Intel and what is your role in the company?
I started at Intel in 2016 as a software engineering intern in the High Performance Computing group, where I worked on validating performance workloads. I moved full time in 2017 with the same group and stayed there until 2020. I am currently an application development engineer in the Network Platforms group, where I activate new 5G solutions at the edge.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the tech industry?
I always loved math as a kid and got encouragement from my parents and teachers. My mentors throughout my life have helped me enjoy learning new subjects and exploring unique career paths. I joined the American Indian Science and Engineering Society in college and received my first engineering internship at their national conference. I met software engineers at these conferences and got to ask questions about their functions, which inspired me to pursue software engineering.
Are there any challenges / obstacles / adversities that you have overcome that you would like to share?
Growing up in the rural Navajo nation meant little exposure to potential careers in tech. From the start it was like a challenge to create a path in life: overcoming generational trauma, finishing school as a single mother, understanding and dealing with bullying. It took me at least a decade of self-reflection and therapy to realize that my experiences as an Aboriginal woman were not normal. The biggest hurdle for me has been raising my daughter while in college, looking for internships, and pursuing the perfect career for both of us. I certainly don’t look back and regret my experiences with my daughter. The adversity I shared with her made me a better person and produced a beautiful young native girl.
How has being a part of the Intel Native American Network (INAN ERG) Employee Resource Group impact your experience with Intel?
INAN is the reason why I accepted Intel’s internship offer over other offers. During my decision period, the members of INAN contacted me to answer all my questions about the exit of the reservation. I thank these active members for allowing me to find a community within the company.
What do you cherish most about Native American culture?
The food, the community of tribes who see themselves as family, the importance of spiritual health, knowing where my heart is on the Navajo Nation. I grew up with the idea that I will always have a home with my clan and that I can return when I am ready. I look forward to this day.