Cannot Reminisce Tiresomely; Rather, Must Give Them What They Need
Here I was at 21, appearing in my college yearbook. I wanted to look sporty and pretty at once. No more wearing feminine stuff just to fit in. I wore a navy-blue Michigan hoody sweatshirt over a turquoise, tropical shirt and completed the look with a doubled strand of translucent, plastic, magenta beads 'cause for the first time ever, no one was there to suggest an outfit for my yearbook picture; as someone who had just finally opened up publicly about my sexual orientation during senior year, unwittingly, yet apparently, I was going for a butch-femme blend....Well, I can reminisce tiresomely here, but not at the oSTEM at U of M session.
oSTEM stands for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (as in, out about one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity). How did *I* a Comparative Literature major come to be speaking to such a student group about six weeks from now? How did I come to be working for technology companies for 20+ years, practically my entire career so far? In my experience, like with learning, the most interesting outcomes in life tend to be incidental.
Meandering through my undergrad years, I had no idea what my career would be; I knew just that I wished it could include writing and that I could make good money at it. Since I didn't have the particular talent for screenwriting or blockbuster-best-seller writing, good money and writing struck me as mutually exclusive...till an ex-girlfriend -- she was a current girlfriend at the time -- introduced me to the tech. writing profession. And that's how I got my start....
What I want to ask the undergrads who attend my session
- On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being most integrated, how integrated do you already feel your personal and professional identities are?
- Have you met the love of your life here at Michigan, or while in college?
- Are you out to your family?
- Have you studied abroad? If so, where?
- Are you open to going on an international assignment for your job?
- What does your research or word of mouth tell you are the LGBT-friendliest companies or organizations to work for?
- Do you see your sexual orientation or gender identity & expression as a potential barrier to realizing your deepest ambition? Why or why not?
- Are you open about your sexual orientation at your internship or current part-time job if you have one?
- Do you plan to be out about your identity from Day One on your post-graduation job?
- What does success look like to you?