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From Palm Trees to Pine Trees

LEAD Scholars and friends look forward to life after graduation in Seattle after career-defining internships at Microsoft.
February 13, 2023
By Nicole Calande
Niyibitanga Inosa ’23 and Antonio Magallanes ’23 stand in front of palm trees on Santa Clara's campus
| LEAD Scholars Niyibitanga Inosa ’23 (left) and Antonio Magallanes ’23 (right). Photo by Jim Gensheimer

When Antonio Magallanes ’23 was considering colleges, Santa Clara University ticked several boxes between its generous scholarships and strong business program—but what sealed the deal?

“I loved that the campus had a lot of palm trees,” said the Los Angeles native. “It made me feel at home.”

Now, after four years, Magallanes and his friend, fellow LEAD Scholar Niyibitanga Inosa ’23 have discovered that same sense of home 850 miles away in Seattle—where recent internships and the support of their Bronco community have led them to full-time, post-grad opportunities in marketing and software engineering at Microsoft.

Two cities, one court

Rewind four years. Magallanes and Inosa’s friendship began as first-year students during LEAD Week, which invites incoming first-generation and transfer students to campus a week early to prepare them for the college experience.

“I didn't realize how big of a culture shock it was going to be coming to Santa Clara, and LEAD really softened that,” said Magallanes, who found that LEAD Week allowed him to connect with students he could relate to, like Inosa.

Over the years, their bond grew on the basketball court while playing for one of SCU’s intramural teams. In 2022, when they learned that they’d both be moving to Seattle for summer internships at Microsoft, it felt like fate.

“We play at Malley almost every day, so it was amazing that we were going to be in the same city going through this new experience together,” said Inosa.

Arriving in Seattle, Magallanes entered the Microsoft ACE Rotation Program where he worked in product marketing where he supported strategic partnerships with the WNBA and Big3. Meanwhile, Inosa completed his second internship with Microsoft—this one in software engineering.

“There was a lot of learning on the job,” Inosa described, “and it was sometimes stressful because of how much was riding on it.” At Microsoft, performing well at an internship often means getting a full-time job offer.

Despite living about 20 minutes apart—Inosa on Capitol Hill and Magallanes in Microsoft-provided accommodations in Redmond—they stayed connected by joining one of Microsoft’s intramural basketball teams with several other Santa Clara interns.

“I was meeting so many people, I could forget who I was,” said Magallanes. “But when I would see my fellow Broncos [on the court], I was like, I’m still a Santa Clara student.”

The two also expanded their Seattle network off the court, meeting other Santa Clara students and alumni through parties, dinners, and outdoor adventures around the Pacific Northwest.

“It just seemed like that summer everyone that I knew from school all of a sudden decided that they were from Seattle,” Inosa joked.

Some Bronco backup

Early on in his internship, Magallanes describes feeling the pressures of imposter syndrome around his peers from Harvard and Stanford… Was he supposed to be here? Was this all a fluke? 

These feelings of self-doubt are common among first-generation students, but the confidence he had developed at SCU and LEAD came flooding back when he got his first assignment—a qualitative research study.

He had just completed a class on that topic so he reached out to his instructor, Associate Professor Chan Thai, for some guidance. “I explained my projects and the steps I would take, and she gave me a template of what to do and what to look for, and that was absolutely amazing,” Magallanes said.

Later, with three of Adjunct Lecturer Amy Eriksson’s public speaking courses under his belt, he blew away his managers with his research presentation—so much so that they actually implemented his recommendations. In his own words, Magallanes had “killed it.”

A pine future is a fine future

After their three-month stint in the Emerald City, Inosa and Magallanes completed their summer internships with a sense of pride—and more importantly, full-time offers to return to Microsoft after they graduate this spring.

As they prepare to trade Santa Clara’s signature palm trees for Seattle’s pine trees, they credit SCU and LEAD with the connections and skills that led them to excel in these career-starting internships—but at the end of the day, they keep coming back to that Bronco spirit.

“On top of all the academic and professional help I got at Santa Clara from LEAD, I think having a community as a first-generation college student is pretty incredible,” said Inosa.

Magallanes agrees. “I was the first one to leave home, so moving to Seattle is kind of a big deal for me and my family. I feel this nervousness, but it’s bringing out the best of me, and I’m just excited to experience new things and start off my career.”