Cristina Costa, Career Coach
by Andrea Payne
“I never imagined myself having my own business,” Cristina Costa, founder of Cristina Costa Coaching, admits. “That’s because no one in my immediate family is a business owner. You think you can be what you can see,” Costa observes as she reflects on her path from college student to entrepreneur, providing career and empowerment coaching for women of color, and diversity and inclusion training to tech companies and startups.
Costa expands on her earlier dialogue with high school students attending Boston Public Schools’ TechBoston Academy, who also participate in TSN’s Boston Design Academy. Costa majored in marketing, communications and Latin American studies at Boston College and spent several years in Asia, Latin America and Europe teaching English and traveling. While tech was not in her sphere of reference when it comes to a career, Costa ventured into the field because of the opportunity and the money. While Costa was earning $35,000 a year working full-time at Northeastern University (NU) and working part time on the weekends to make ends meet, the NU students she counseled were landing tech jobs starting at $90,000.
Costa, who emphasizes the importance of relationships and networking, had a friend who referred her for a position at PayPal. “I had no background in tech. It really came down to who knows you and who is willing to vouch for you. Networking is paramount in anyone’s career. My motto is Your Network is Your Net Worth,” she says firmly. During an economic downturn, Costa was laid off from PayPal but soon landed a job at HubSpot, one of Boston’s biggest tech companies. “They were looking for bi-lingual people to work with their Latin American customers,” says Costa, whose family is from Guatemala and who speaks Spanish fluently. Costa was an advocate for diversity at HubSpot, however, after observing that Black and Brown people were not being promoted, she decided to leave. Other tech jobs led her to realize that this is a systemic problem that is well documented.
“In some instances the diversity picture is growing bleaker. Blacks and Hispanics still remain underrepresented in tech jobs by nearly 50 percent,” states a 2018 report on tech diversity by the Brookings Institute. “I slowly realized over the years that a lot of tech workplaces are toxic environments for people of color and women. They have leadership that does not care, show empathy or practice inclusivity,” Costa says candidly. Recalling her mother’s admonition to “do what feels right to you,” Costa started her own company.