Sunday, December 26, 2010

Prepping for oSTEM at U of M Remarks

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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

  1. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being most integrated, how integrated do you already feel your personal and professional identities are?
  2. Have you met the love of your life here at Michigan, or while in college?
  3. Are you out to your family?
  4. Have you studied abroad? If so, where?
  5. Are you open to going on an international assignment for your job?
  6. What does your research or word of mouth tell you are the LGBT-friendliest companies or organizations to work for?
  7. Do you see your sexual orientation or gender identity & expression as a potential barrier to realizing your deepest ambition? Why or why not?
  8. Are you open about your sexual orientation at your internship or current part-time job if you have one?
  9. Do you plan to be out about your identity from Day One on your post-graduation job?
  10. What does success look like to you?
If I had answered some of these questions at their age, #1 would have been, "1," as I had zero professional identity then, unless you count the temp jobs I had, doing office-work during school-breaks....It never occurred to me to find a co-op job at a company like IBM; #2 would have been, "Yes," and would have been incorrect; and I would responded yes for #3, as I came out to my family during senior year. Question #6 was not even in the realm of my imagination back then; and paradoxically, considering I felt so unsure of what I wanted to do for my career, #10 would have been a similar answer to the one I'd give today, fortunately: to have stable love and stable work to make me much richer than I'd be without either one.

No comments: