CTE Career Journeys – Project Coordinator

Antonette Adams

Sr. Product Marketing Manager • Career and Technical Education • National Geographic Learning | Cengage

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Career Journeys series is aimed to shed light on current career trends as they align to student career clusters. In this series installation, we have interviewed Yris Oyola-Baker, a Project Coordinator in the Business Management & Administration career cluster. Yris shares with us the career journey that lead her to his current role with National Geographic Learning. She dives what motivated her to pursue this career, milestones that lead to where she’s at today, how she stands out in her field and advice for others looking to pursue this career. This series also offers career outlook data collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Interview information

Name: Yris Oyola-Baker

Title: Project Coordinator

Career Cluster: Business Management & Administration

Company: National Geographic Learning | Cengage

Additional Career Highlight Information

Career Outlook: 6% increase (faster than average)

Median Salary: $67,280 per year

Education Needed: High school diploma and several years’ experience in the preferred work industry

*All career outlook data is collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Yris Headshot 2

Question and Answer with Yris Oyola-Baker

Q: What motivated or inspired you to pursue your particular role or career path?

A: My father was my first inspiration and key to my growing passion for technology. He was an instructor of Hardware (Digital Electronics) and Software in the Peruvian Navy, and the computer lab was my favorite place to visit. It is there where I first learned about DOS prompt and ASCII code; while at home I would watch him work on circuit boards, logic gates, and later computer hardware. While in high school I had the opportunity to attend a vocational school, and I didn’t hesitate to choose Information Technology. Later, I attended Iona College to pursue a Computer Information Systems degree.

I have always appreciated the opportunities to work with people from different backgrounds and industries. I enjoy being resourceful and overcoming challenges that I face in my career. The knowledge that my work can assist others in achieving their goals brings me a great sense of fulfillment. The opportunity to connect with people and understand their motivations and goals is something I genuinely enjoy, alongside my passion for technology. This career path has allowed me to tap into my technical and analytical skills, creating a balance between “left and right brain”, which is personally fulfilling.

Yris at her job with PepsiCo in 2002
Q: What were the key milestones or turning points in your career or life that led you to where you are today?

A: Some key milestones in my career came with each company I have worked with, whether it was with increased responsibilities or new opportunities. However, it is not solely about the size or recognition of these companies, but rather about the valuable lessons I have learned in each role. In my opinion, the turning points in my career are the opportunities I have had to learn something new, whether it involved venturing into unfamiliar territory or facing challenges head-on. During these moments, I have been able to leverage my technical skills to learn new software, employ my analytical abilities to devise solutions that drive results and tap into my creativity to explore innovative approaches. These experiences have always prepared me for the next step.

Sometimes we tend to think of milestones as events that occur over months or years, but with every project, every new thing we learn contributes to our development. My theory is that if I know more today than I did yesterday, it represents a turning point. This may not be immediately noticeable, but it is an additional pixel that contributes to the bigger picture. That one pixel could symbolize completing one section of the beautiful artwork that represents the journey of self-creation and individual growth.

Q: What strategies did you employ to stand out in your field and differentiate yourself from others?

A: In addition to passion and enthusiasm, continuous learning, adaptability, and staying current in the field are the key strategies to stand out. The way tasks or projects were completed in the 2000s is very different today. Software, processes, record keeping, communication, and even work trends have changed more than once over the years.

Awareness of these changes and welcoming the evolution of technology, with research to be aware of what is new and what is coming to the market, reading material, and learning new technical skills to stay current, has helped me in this regard.

Q: Looking back, is there anything you would do differently in your career journey or advice you’d offer individuals in or considering your field?

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