Nestor Colindres Interview
How are you doing, how has life been?
I’m doing great. I’m excited that next week is spring break but it’s like a double-edged sword. I’m excited that next week is spring break but that means all the midterms fall between this week and the week after spring break. It’s like I’m almost there for a vacation but I’m going to be stressfully resting.
How did you first start out your academic journey
How did I first start off my academic Journey? I came from Community College, I first attended College of the Canyons right out of high school and I will be studying business administration for the first 2 years of my academic career. Midway after that I kind of decided that that’s not the right I wanted to go. I wanted to go more in the technical side just because I always found that so fascinating. I went ahead and switched to computer science when I was still in College of the Canyons and then about a year after I went to CSUN. I’ve been at CSUN for about 2 years at this point. I’m a senior expected to graduate actually this upcoming summer and it’s been an absolute blast just trying to learn as much as possible. Throughout the whole academic career I’ve met wonderful wonderful people. I have established some great relationships with the professors just because they were able to help me out so much. I have so overall my academic career has been amazing.
What was your Major?
Previously before I switched to comps psy it was business administration with discipline of finance. When I switched it was computer science, so right now I’m doing computer science with a minor in mathematics.
When did you start taking your academics seriously? Whether that was in highschool or you were just always serious about your academic success.
When I was in college of the Canyons I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I would take the easy classes to pad my GPA and when it came to mathematics I kind of struggled a lot. I didn’t really take it seriously where I should have set aside time to study, review my homework and all those things. It wasn’t until pre-calculus at College of the Canyons where I was like “okay I probably should start taking this seriously” and that’s when I switched my Majors as well. It was like really hard for me to start getting good habits because I never had good habits before then, in terms of studying. After that pre-calc class, I would say that I kind of did a 180 and started really trying to pass my classes with A’s, study as much as I can, review things and I would say that has really pushed me to excel.
Are you a first generation student?
I am actually, My parents weren’t from the United States. I have three siblings where I am the youngest of them. My sister graduated from the University of Los Angeles something and she majored in Business Administration, my second oldest brother actually graduated from CSUN in mechanical engineering, and then my oldest brother is actually in the military.
Who inspired you to go to college?
What inspired me to go to college? That’s a very good question. *laugh* *deep in thought*. Nobody really Inspired me directly, I wanted to go ahead and have a very nice and successful life. I know success is defined differently by different people but in my version of success it would be something I’m doing that I enjoy and also feel like I’m contributing to something. Also not having to worry about like “oh no am I pay my bills this month”. I was like looking at different people, you know like movies and TV shows where people were studying these really cool majors and I was like “you know, maybe going to college will set me up for that”. To be honest, when I first went to college I was like “oh no, college is not right for me. I don’t like it” but I was thinking about alternatives. I was like “okay well if I like drop out right now I will have nothing else going for me” and I feel like I wouldn’t really be successful in my own definition. I like computer science, I like technical stuff. So I decided to go ahead and do a complete 180 and really get my habits aligned in terms of how to be successful. After doing so the rest is history. So to answer your question, I don’t think I had somebody that made me want to go to college, it was more of just being around and seeing other people going to college as well as watching it on TV and movies.
Oh that’s a good question. Okay so my first experience of thinking this is something I really wanted to do and that I could really accomplish a lot in college was in highschool. In high school Kennedy High School, they offered this program where after school you could enroll in college course classes. these college courses classes were offered by Channel Islands and so I went ahead and enrolled in one called “social business” class. it was after school where the class would meet up and we had a professor come over from Channel Islands to teach. One of the assignments was to create a fake business that solves a social issue. I was assigned a team and throughout the semester we had to compete with other teams within the same class in terms of how does my business exceed or solve a problem in the current world. The top three in class or top three groups were given the opportunity to actually present in front of Paramount Studios, in front of like thousands of people. I think it was actually like 4000 people. In order to do that actually, you had to go to Paramount Studios. Then present in front of a panel and then the panel only chooses one group to present and my group was chosen. and so I had to go up on stage and talk about my social business. I was scared you know because I was in front of a thousand who i didn’t know who were judging. However the experience was absolutely thrilling, it was exciting and that was the day I was like “Maybe I do want to go to college”. it felt like this was something I could potentially do. This pushed me into realizing that college could be something I could do.
It was funny, because of that they awarded me a scholarship and I think it was provided by Paramount studios and another thing that collaborated with them.
That is correct, that was a combination of all my past accomplishments.
So an APX position at NASA stands for academic part-time. So essentially NASA JPL’s basically saying we want you to work for us and we will pay you for it. APX is a kind of a path to becoming a full-time NASA worker once you graduate. Thankfully my team has said during the interview process that this position will be converted to full-time once I graduate. Last year I also worked for NASA as an EO intern for NASA JPL, which was just education office. It’s more of like “we want you to gain experience working at NASA GPO for about 3-4 months” since it was during the summer. CSUN was paying for that so it’s more like you know yeah you can definitely you know work for us but academic part time I had an interview I had an interview.
There were two interviews. The first interview was just to get to know me better and then the second interview once I passed the first one was with a panel. This panel was like the team leaders from my group, so the questions were technical. Then once I passed they brought me on-bored and I’ve been at this internship for about three weeks now. It’s been an amazing experience. It feels like I’m like a small fish in a big pond kind of thing. Thankfully, I have amazing support from my team who answer any questions I have. They show me how to do things and it’s a great learning experience.
I think the biggest obstacle for me was Covid. Covid really put a lot of the resources that I wanted to get initially out of Outreach for me. At that point a lot of resources shut down or just said that we can’t meet in person so we have to meet online and that is not the same for networking. I really wanted to network, which I think is very important. I also had to overcome getting out of my comfort zone. Looking back at it now, I’m surprised at how much I’ve accomplished. I decided that it’s okay to feel nervous and uncomfortable. If I had kept thinking “I don’t want to do this because what if I failed” or “what if I don’t succeed in what tasks are given to me”. If I had just focused on my studies and just graduated then I would have done so without a job lined up. Thankfully because I pushed myself to exceed, I would say that I’ve been happier with the progress I’ve made and the practice I received.