Alumni Spotlight: Javier Chen, Pandora

The U.S. Navy veteran shares how FourBlock helped guide his journey to one of the world’s leading audio-tech companies.

“Music is the soundtrack to life.”

A man with this motto, coupled with a passion for technology, was destined for a career in a music-related tech industry. Naturally, this led U.S. Navy veteran Javier Chen to venture out to one of the nation’s premiere tech hubs, the San Francisco Bay Area in his home state of California. Here, with the help of FourBlock’s Career Readiness Program, Chen would gain exposure to various companies, learning the ins and outs of working in the tech space. This exposure, paired with his relentless work ethic and the professional network he developed with FourBlock, would ultimately lead Chen to a role at the intersection of music and technology with one of the world’s top audio-tech companies.

Chen’s transition story begins years earlier as his honorable active-duty service was ending while stationed in San Diego, California. After five years of service, he made the challenging jump back into the world of academia. He especially struggled with science and math, but with a desire to move on to a four-year university, he put in the extra effort to assure he’d succeed.

“Fortunately I was able to utilize the tutoring center at my local community college, and with the support of the student veteran community, I was able to succeed and transfer to a 4-year university,” he said.

Chen was accepted into the University of California, Berkeley in 2015, where he’d pursue a degree in Sociology & Environmental Science, Policy Management. While enrolled, Chen put in the extra effort to assure he’d graduate with more than just classroom experience. He studied abroad in Switzerland and participated in the Warrior-Scholar Project student cohort at Harvard & MIT. It was also during this time, less than an hour away from UC Berkeley’s campus, that FourBlock launched its Career Readiness Program in San Francisco.

Looking to expand his professional network and learn more about tech companies in the Bay Area, Chen joined FourBlock’s inaugural San Francisco cohort in the fall of 2016. Through the program, Chen was able to connect with fellow student veterans and gain valuable insight into what it’s like to work in the world of tech. The Navy veteran says his time with FourBlock taught him to effectively tell both his personal and professional stories, tailor his resume, and improve his networking skills—three crucial factors for post-military success.

But above all, Chen learned to proactively research his dream employers to learn about their corporate cultures and determine where his specific skillset could best be utilized. By doing this, in combination with his other newfound skills and already impressive work ethic, Chen landed a job at Pandora upon graduating from UC Berkeley.

He currently serves as an employee experience and inclusion strategist at the audio-tech giant, which is home to one of the world’s leading music & podcast streaming apps.

Chen says he enjoys working for a music company in the audio-tech space with such a “diverse culture.” He added, “I believe music is the soundtrack to life and that a company like Pandora is creating a workplace culture where everyone can be themselves and enjoy what they do.”

Chen advises other transitioning veterans to relentlessly pursue their passions and never be afraid to ask for help and mentorship. “There are many people, organizations and communities out there to help with your transition,” he said. “Take advantage of the resources that are available from the VA and veteran support organizations. Whether that is a disability claim, health & wellness care, housing, education and employment benefits, the community of veterans and veteran supporters in these roles will gladly serve you.”

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