The Year Up Bay Area graduate has made her mark at PayPal and earned the praise of company executives, including CEO Dan Schulman.
When Sabrina Flores first started her internship at PayPal through Year Up Bay Area, she described herself as "extremely nervous." Growing up in the agricultural community of Soledad, Calif., Sabrina feared she wouldn't be able to connect with the PayPal executives she would support.
"My Year Up instructor sat me down and reminded me that, 'They put their pants on the same way that you do,'" Sabrina said. Her perspective shifted. "I realized that this is my experience, my education, and I needed to make the most of it."
Fast forward six years, and Sabrina has done more than make the most of her opportunity. She has held full-time positions at PayPal as an executive support technician and internal auditor, and garnered the praise of PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, who recognized Sabrina as "an integral member of our team" in a personal LinkedIn post.
"Sabrina directly supports me as an Executive Support Technician, and I can say firsthand from working with her that she is fantastic," Schulman said at the time. "Thanks to Sabrina for her years of work at PayPal, and to Year Up for helping us find such great talent."
I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible to be able to transfer my experience anywhere. The executives and assistants were instrumental in my career. They motivated and empowered me to overcome my challenges.
Senior Technology Auditor, PayPal
In her current role as Senior Technology Auditor, Sabrina leverages the technical skills she learned in Year Up's IT track to cover how teams are working within PayPal's policies and procedures.
"I'm enjoying the full learning process," Sabrina said. "It's giving me a deeper understanding of the work behind PayPal's applications and products. I work with folks around the globe, so it's nice to build those relationships."
Sabrina's parents always prioritized her education. Her father and her grandparents worked in agriculture from the time they were 14, rising before dawn to maintain and harvest vineyards throughout Central California. Her grandfather, a farm labor contractor, never missed a day of work, she said.
"We were fortunate to have the opportunity to go to school, so farming wasn't our only option," Sabrina said. "It was a staple in our house: to study something that you enjoy."
She headed to San Jose for college but cycled through several jobs—a security officer on the graveyard shift, an administrative position at a medical office, a tech company valet—to afford the cost of living and learning in the Bay Area. A coworker pointed her in the direction of Year Up.
"I was at a crossroads," she said. "I took a leap of faith and applied to Year Up right after our conversation. It couldn't have come at a better time."
The focus on accountability in the learning and development phase made an impression on Sabrina. Arriving on time, dressing professionally, introducing herself—all valuable skills that she found as helpful as the technical side, where she became familiar with various hardware and software platforms.
"When you're not used to the corporate environment, it's good to have a rundown of the company's culture," she said. "It was useful to discuss the 'what if' scenarios to understand the technical terminology and processes—it felt more realistic. I would constantly refer to my Year Up notebook throughout my internship."
At her PayPal internship, Sabrina found a supportive environment where people encouraged her to take charge of her future. In that atmosphere, Sabrina checked in weekly with her advisers and asked what gaps she could fill in her executive support role.
"I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible to be able to transfer my experience anywhere," Sabrina said. "The executives and assistants were instrumental in my career. They motivated and empowered me to overcome my challenges."
PayPal's mission of providing people with financial freedom and stability also aligned with Sabrina's values, she said. She saw firsthand how that attitude started at the top, with Schulman setting the tone as the CEO.
"You hear things in the media, but seeing Dan actually walk the walk was refreshing," Sabrina said. "He believes that we, as humans, can make a difference. He stands on the right side of history, leading with inclusion and collaboration to reach all audiences and provide them with opportunities."
Sabrina directly supports me as an Executive Support Technician, and I can say firsthand from working with her that she is fantastic. Thanks to Sabrina for her years of work at PayPal, and to Year Up for helping us find such great talent.
Sabrina has also become involved with Aliados, PayPal's employee resource group for Latinx employees and allies. She is part of a mentorship program where she is paired with a vice president in business financing solutions, who has a similar background—he grew up in a small town in Venezuela, mirroring her experience in Soledad.
Even while working full-time, Sabrina is still focused on her education. She is pursuing her bachelor's degree in business administration at California State University of Monterey Bay. She is also looking forward to diving further into the vast world of technical auditing to determine the long-term career that fits her interests.
"My VP said it the best," Sabrina said. "It's like I'm on a runway at the airport, and I can take off in any direction."