Optional Binding & (Really) Networking
A speaker can change your perspective not just with their words but, if they're authentic, with who they are as well. When I was in art school, one of my favorite teachers made it clear that he was there not just to teach us technique but to show by example that it was possible to do art professionally. These kind of role models are so important when you're just starting out.
They're very vulnerable places, beginnings, as you open yourself up to changing how you see the world. I had my first dream about coding two nights ago. Last night, I had another one. It was strange, but a little wonderful, too. It was also a sign of how profoundly the mind and body take in your environment—which can be good and bad, as no environment is perfect.
The tech community has good and bad in it. Our speaker today, Hang Xu did a wonderful job of celebrating the best in tech (a career in tech and the friends you make along the way can change your life, and people don't care about educational pedigree so much as what you can do) and being honest about the worst (he had no easy answers for being a networking woman in a predominantly male environment, nor for being black or a black woman in a predominantly white and white/male environment, besides being more skillful than the people who would limit you).
It meant a lot to me that Hang had a career in tech (UX & UI) but hadn't lost his perspective on race or gender, nor his wry sense of humor or dim view of humanity in general, all of which seemed to be such essential parts of who he is. But he was also profoundly grateful for the people who had gotten him the life he now has, with a (to me, huge) salary and the option of picking his next position rather than scrounging while moving from one dead-end job to the next.
So much of tech can be rah-rah cheerleading for tech itself, and C4Q is not immune (though I think it does its best to balance the rah-rah with practical things like tutors; my tutoring starts this weekend). I was so happy to see someone appreciate what tech has done for them and can potentially do for others but not lose their critical eye on what fucking sucks about tech as it is now. More importantly, Xu was also willing to share his perspective honestly with a bunch of beginners in a way that showed he didn't believe these realities should scare us off.
After the talk I felt truly informed and also like I had a keener grasp of the dreams I'm reaching towards. Thanks, Hang.