Upon graduating in 2012, Oliver Vasquez (B.S. ’12) was on the move, already landing a job as a network technician aide for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). “I grew up in the Bronx with my mother,” says Vasquez, who moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2003.”
After jumping into several other positions after the MTA, Vasquez ultimately founded his own company, Vasquez Integrators, in 2014. As chief executive officer and lead network engineer, he uses his expertise to design communication networks (fiber optic, radio, WiFi, copper) and security systems (access control, intrusion detection, intercom systems, close-circuit television) for data centers to support transportation agencies like the MTA, Long Island Rail Road, New York State Thruway, The Port Authority, and more.
Vasquez talked to New York Tech News about his journey from New York Tech to becoming his own boss, giving back to his alma mater, and one day providing telecom services to his native country.
Why did you decide to go into telecommunications net management?
I attended a vocational high school in the South Bronx called Samuel Gompers, [where] I learned about Cisco Systems telecommunications and networking. Learning about the Internet and how people can communicate from one place in the world to another was fascinating to me. This led me to pursue my career in telecommunications at New York Tech. It has turned out to be one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.
New York Tech obviously helped you get to where you are today. Can you talk about your time here?
New York Tech provided me with the skills and the platform to put in practice the skills I learned. Internships, career advice, and résumé preparation provided by Career Services and spearheaded by Amy Bravo, was at the epicenter of my professional development. I pursued three internships before graduation. My goal was to have a job before graduation, which I accomplished.
You founded Vasquez Integrators in 2014. What services does the company provide, and what do you hope to accomplish within the company moving ahead?
We support electrical and general construction contractors with telecommunications systems design, programming, and commissioning services. I love waking up each day knowing that I am now responsible for the livelihoods of my staff and that I am—albeit a little bit—making a positive impact in society. My goal is to use my company to help provide access to telecom services in other parts of the world, such as my home country of the Dominican Republic.
You studied under HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program), which helped you continue your studies. How have you remained involved with the school since graduating?
I became a HEOP mentor, [helping] first year students become acclimated to the university. Every year, I would go to Albany and speak to representatives in Congress about the impact HEOP had on me and my classmates. I also participated in a service-learning program (organized by Career Services) and traveled to Peru to help build a pharmacy for a local community. Traveling with 12 other students and a staff member, helping others in need, turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. New York Tech was so good to me, and I hope to continue contributing to the school and their students in any way I can.
If you had one piece of advice for incoming students, what would it be?
Telecommunications, IT (information technology) is a very rewarding field. Technology is always changing. It pushes you to keep your knowledge current. I did not begin my career thinking that I would be an entrepreneur, however, my path led me here. We can all be entrepreneurs. For students that feel entrepreneurial and are in the tech field, I would suggest reading all they can get their hands on about tech and business. Get comfortable with asking questions and take on the responsibility to accomplish your goals.
This interview has been edited and condensed.