Felix Romero Sr. shares his career story in this exclusive interview for LatPro Learn. As a senior database programmer in the pharmaceutical industry, Romero can see the fruits of his labor in very real and exciting ways when his programming is used to help obtain FDA approval for life-saving drugs for thousands of people.
What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I am a senior database programmer. I work in the pharmaceutical industry and have worked in it for fifteen years. I would describe myself as sincere, funny, and serious.
What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I’m 10 percent Boricua male raised in Brooklyn NY. Coming from another country to the United States as a teenager age is not easy, but it has helped me to always exceed and do better than my competition.
I have experienced discrimination many times, and I survived just by realizing they are ignorant and just need the time to learn.
It is a good thing that I speak both English and Spanish and sometimes Spanglish. Being bilingual in the job market has helped open many opportunities for me in my career. Now is an even a better time to be fluent in both and explore opportunities overseas.
How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I’m the Clinical Data Programmer who makes sure that the information collected during a clinical trial for a new drug is accurate. This entails the creation of a data entry application and converting data into different formats. The most rewarding part is when it gets submitted to the FDA for approval.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
My job satisfaction rating would be a nine since I’ve been working in the technical fields for many years. It’s a great feeling to create something (reports, applications, etc.) from scratch and see the end results.
If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
Being part of the FDA approval of a new drug and seeing this drug help many patients with cancer, diabetes, etc. is the most satisfying feeling I have ever felt. Saving many lives makes my job more interesting.
Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I don’t give up no matter how hard the situations may be. Many times I just need time to be alone, relax, and let my internal power overcome the situations. Staying mentally and physically fit has helped me live a better life.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I loved electronics since I was young. You can ask my mom how many times I got punished for opening radios to get the little people out! In high school, I took technical courses and loved it, which made going to and graduating from college more pleasant since I knew ahead of time in what area I would be majoring.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
Many times I run into the situation of not confirming in writing what was requested verbally, and this has caused extra working hours.
What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
When I go into an interview for a job, I also interview the interviewer because, if you think about it, once you start working for the firm, you will spend half of your daily life there. So I always make sure I do my homework and go with questions.
Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that! really made you feel good or proud?
Just knowing that what I’m doing is making a difference in the world. Life has its purpose in many forms. So I go out and seek it.
What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
Believe or not, at the end of the day it’s always about profits and then employees; it’s all just about numbers.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
Being active in physical activities has helped me maintain a comfortable work-life balance.
What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
Database Programmers salary range is based on levels: junior, senior, and expert. At the senior level, it would be 80k to 100k. This is the standard for most firms; salary is based on the market of the region in which you work.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I take a three-week vacation, and I make sure I use it wisely. All vacations go too fast.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
Most major firms require a college degree in any technical, sales, science, or Human Resource field.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
I would tell anyone looking for a job in my line of work to go for it. Even if the company has a major layoff, you can always make more money working as a contractor.
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
In the next five years, I will be working remotely from my house in Puerto Rico.