From her home in Buenos Aires, Migracode volunteer Cristal Bukler wakes early to begin employability sessions with students, sometimes as early as 6 a.m. “I do that based on their needs,” the 26-year-old Argentinian says. 

Bukler says being a mentor is “all about meaningful connections.” To ensure students feel that connection a continent away, Bukler is happy to adjust her schedule to accommodate them and the five-hour time difference. 

As a volunteer, Bukler helps students with their resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and other issues that might come up during their job search. She knows the struggles students face when searching for jobs, having been there herself. 

“It’s not only the students at Migracode, but it happened to me when I started applying for jobs,” she says. “It’s the fact that they start to apply for jobs without organizing the information.” In motivation letters, students also tend to focus on what the company and job  will provide them, rather than what they will add to the company as an employee. 

Photo courtesy of Cristal Bukler.

Bukler discovered Migracode in March through a LinkedIn post. A natural networker, she reached out to Program Manager Vincent van Grondelle in an effort to interview him for her podcast. As a member of the hospitality industry, Bukler was interested in how Migracode has partnered with the hospitality and travel industries.

A few months later, a call for employability volunteers prompted Bukler to reach out again and offer herself as a mentor, a role she had already been in for the past year at an education company in Massachusetts.  

Guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 8 — quality education, and decent work and economic growth, respectively — Bukler’s goal as a professional is “to help as many students as I can for the future of jobs.”

“I think we as human beings feel very happy when we do things for others,” she says. “This is why I mentor other people even if it’s not in my industry, because it makes me happy to help others.”

The desire to make others happy is what led her to a career in the hospitality industry. Finding her first job in 2015 at a 5-star hotel in Buenos Aires as a receptionist. Eventually, she left to travel around Argentina from 2017 to 2019 in order to live in as many cities around the country to prepare herself to open her own hotel. 

“If you want to be a good programmer, you have to think about the problem you want to solve… think about problems you have on a daily basis, think about possible solutions and how to use technology to solve that problem.” 

During this time, Bukler created a business plan to open a smart hotel — a hotel built with technology at the forefront, such as mobile apps or tablets to open doors, check in/out and order room service. However, after meeting with potential investors, Bukler was denied funding on the basis that she needed more experience in leadership and management roles.

This set back led her to begin working for a U.S.-based education company. Her role eventually included leading a remote team of 32 volunteers, an “amazing experience” that has put her in touch with lots of students.

“I love interacting with people,” she says. “I love everything that has to do with human behavior, and hospitality is the ‘happy-tality’ industry because you are providing happiness to people.”

Photo courtesy of Cristal Bukler.

Now, Bukler is learning to code and has even created her own curriculum which includes classes on python and javascript. With a focus on user experience and strong interest in machine learning, Bukler hopes to create interfaces and frameworks that will increase positive customer experiences. 

And, as a woman in tech who has faced her fair share of setbacks, Bukler’s desire to mentor others continues to grow. 

“I was there before and I know how it feels to be lost, to not know what to do when you feel down,” she says. 

Whenever students feel depressed or down about the current situation, or because they don’t hear back from companies they have applied to, Bukler is always available to talk. “They just write me and based on their needs I’m there.”

While mentoring and advising Migracode students, Bukler often thinks back to a simple sentence she says changed everything for her: “If you want to be a good programmer, you have to think about the problem you want to solve… think about problems you have on a daily basis, think about possible solutions and how to use technology to solve that problem.” 

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