"USPTO is awesome at providing a real sense of community."
When work starts to feel like a home away from home and your coworkers quickly turn from friends into family, it’s probably a safe bet that you’ve made the right career move.
For patent examiner Maria Santos, work and fun go hand in hand. She’s been able to thrive in a challenging environment and enjoys examining business method patent applications for inventions that include new types of e-commerce processing, financial and management data processing like billing, and health care systems. And Maria often gets the chance to intermix with fellow professionals across the agency who not only share her heritage but her affinity for technology and innovation. Among USPTO’s emerging Hispanic population social events like picnics, happy hours, welcome dinners for new employees, and shared holidays have made her experience really special.
“The USPTO is awesome at providing a real sense of community,” Maria says. “It doesn’t feel like work when you’re able to do what you love, while bonding with people around you who share so many similar aspects of life,” she adds.
She’s not only thrilled with the culture of community that welcomed her and helped her to quickly acclimate to the DC metro area after having moved from Puerto Rico, she loves the part of the agency’s culture that also fosters ongoing personal and professional excellence. Already on the fast-track to her next major promotion in two years, Maria has recently obtained Partial Signatory Authority and hopes to advance to a Primary Patent Examiner soon.
“I’ve taken full advantage of every single promotion opportunity. I’ve worked hard to excel and I am really proud of that,” said Maria. “It also helps that my supervisor and director are really supportive of my professional growth,” she adds.
Maria’s first job after graduating the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico was in the private sector, and she’s quick to recognize the vast differences in job satisfaction between that firm and this agency. Among many things, what she appreciates most about working for the USPTO is that employees can chart their own paths to success.
“At private companies, your boss dictates if and when you get promoted. You can be a hard worker, but ultimately it’s their decision, not yours,” said Maria. “At the USPTO, you can shape your own destiny.”
Just one of the thousands of Millennials attracted to the USPTO to experience self-motivated career advancement, as well as great pay and benefits, young employees like Maria also value the intangibles that an agency like this one has to offer: work-life balance and flexibility, purpose-driven work that impacts the American economy, and – yes – having fun and having a life while feeling a sense of pride in providing for loved ones.
“Millennials want it all,” Maria says as she laughs and then continues. “We want an amazing professional career with unlimited opportunities for growth and leadership while also having lots of time to spend with our friends and family.”
Maria, the mother of a two-year old, whose husband Alfonso also works as a USPTO patent examiner, can happily and assuredly say that she has a life – a great one – and that it’s well balanced with family time heavily tipping the scales. “It’s what’s most important to me,” she says. She’s begun to add a few more items to the USPTO side of that scale after recently becoming Secretary of the USPTO’s chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE-USPTO). As part of SHPE-USPTO’s executive committee, Maria serves in a leadership capacity and gives back to the community that served her so well as a new USPTO employee.
Maria takes the responsibility of giving back very seriously knowing that she’s safeguarding Hispanic traditions and values of “strength through community” that future employees can rely on in the same way that she initially did four years ago.
“It’s not easy transitioning into the USPTO. Nothing is perfect and the first year is tough,” she says bluntly. “But by having both my family at home and my ‘PTO familia’, I was able to overcome any obstacle.”