In the Spotlight: Tomas De Andrade '19, It Technician, Hitn
Tomas De Andrade came to St. Francis College from Venezuela, with his eyes on the soccer field. As a stand-out member of the SFC men's team, Tomas played four years under the Terrier banner.
Soccer wasn't Tomas' only passion, however. An Information Technology (IT) major, Tomas learned the ropes of computer systems and programming here, skills that brought him to his first post-graduation job at HITN, the largest non-commercial Hispanic network in the United States reaching more than 44 million viewers in the US and Puerto Rico.
HITN is a cornerstone company at Brooklyn Navy Yard, a vibrant new community of more than 400 innovative businesses about two miles from SFC's Brooklyn Heights campus. Covering 300 waterfront acres, more than 10,000 people work in The Yard's cutting-edge work spaces.
Tomas made his way to HITN via the Brooklyn Navy Yard Internship Program, which places students into positions at Yard businesses.
Tomas recently returned to St. Francis College as part of a team from HITN, to meet with SFC President Miguel Martinez-Saenz and others about the College's growing, collaborative relationship with the network. On his visit, Tomas reflected on his college years and his burgeoning professional career.
How did you get introduced to St. Francis College?
I had a friend here who played on the soccer team. He recommended it to me, told me about it. Then I emailed and texted the coaches and people from the school. It all looked really interesting. The [Brooklyn Heights] Promenade, the field in the middle of the water [Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park], all of that caught my attention.
What made you decide to attend?
Because of soccer and because it is a really good school. It's a school that helps students be practical [by gaining real-world experience] rather than just learning [in a classroom]. I had a soccer scholarship that helped me through my school years. It [meant I could] go through school without any [financial] problems.
Were there any classes or professors that were particularly important to your success?
Yes, there were a few professors that were really good to me. One was Sandra Wescott. She taught me a lot about databases, SQL, programming, all that kind of stuff. I even took private classes with her when I couldn't take the normal classes because of my [soccer] schedule.
Another was Corinne Smolizza. She showed me all about web design.
What's most memorable about your soccer career at St. Francis?
How people cared about each other. From coaches to staff, people at treatment and at the fueling station [an SFC center for student-athletes to meet and eat]. They showed you that you are important. They want you to perform your best [on the field] and they also want you to perform your best in class.
You work full-time now for HITN. How did you get involved with that company?
It was actually through the [SFC] Career Center. They told me about this program in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. You send your
resume and then the Navy Yard gives you as many options as possible [for internships with companies there] that align with your career goals. And one of my options was with HITN. It is a Hispanic [TV] channel, and I'm from a Latin background, so it was a really good spot for me.
I ended up as an intern with HITN through the Navy Yard in July 2019. I was successful in that role. Then HITN took me [directly as an intern] about a month and a half later. Now I'm there full-time.
What are your responsibilities at HITN?
I'm responsible for general networking within the company. I work with the printers, computers. I'm also responsible for programming apps for the company.
What's the environment like inside HITN?
Inside the company, the atmosphere is really good for interns and new employees. [My colleagues] help as much as they can. They give you pointers and they are completely truthful about what you're doing and what you're not, which helps a lot.
What's your relationship like with the team there?
From day one, it was really good because I speak Spanish, and everyone there speaks Spanish too. So I could relate on a different level with them. But even if I only spoke English, the relationships [would be] really good. It's an actual team and that's what makes it great.
What advice do you have for students who may want to get into your line of work?
I tell them to focus much more on the classes they actually like and want to take, instead of the ones that they need to take. If they're actually interested in programming, take Programming 1, 2, as many as you can [in that field]. You have to take some other courses to complete your [college] career, but focus on your dreams and desires.
Pictured above: Tomas with Pedro Herrera, HITN Director, Information Technology & Broadcast Operations, during a meeting at St. Francis College on January 7, 2020