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Help, I Have Too Many Interests!

Jessica Yang
September 26, 2018

Help, I Have Too Many Interests!

First presented at Grace Hopper Celebration 2018 in Houston, Texas

More resources at www.jessicayang.org/tmi

Do you have too many interests? Join the club! "Multipotentialites" have highly diverse interests and passions, significant skill in several, and an almost pathological need for variety in everything they do. We are highly valuable employees, yet largely ignored by conventional career advice. In this talk, we'll learn about our unique skills and challenges, and explore potential solutions in the context of a tech career.

Jessica Yang

September 26, 2018
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Transcript

  1. HELP, I HAVE TOO MANY INTERESTS!
    #GHC 18
    Jessica Yang | @krysjez

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  2. so…what do you do?

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  3. There are words for people like us
    Top row: Sher (2007), Alboher (2007), Wapnick (c. 2010)

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  4. multipotentialite
    First used by Frederickson & Rothney (1972)
    Popularized by Wapnick (c. 2010)

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  5. My definition…
    #GHC 18
    someone with many
    diverse interests

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  6. My definition…
    #GHC 18
    someone with many
    diverse interests,
    significant skill in several

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  7. My definition…
    #GHC 18
    someone with many
    diverse interests,
    significant skill in several,
    and a need for variety in
    their pursuits

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  8. Multipotentialites make very valuable
    employees
    #GHC 18

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  9. Multipotentialites are more creative
    #GHC 18
    Uzzi et al. (2013)

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  10. Multipotentialites are more creative
    #GHC 18
    Photo: Helayne Stillings
    Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.
    - Donatella Versace

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  11. Multipotentialites get more practice
    with learning how to learn
    #GHC 18
    learning curve

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  12. Multipotentialites know about a lot of
    things, which is generally useful
    #GHC 18
    Finally, a
    use for my
    minor in
    East Asian
    Studies
    Why is our
    app rating so
    bad in
    Japan???

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  13. Society isn’t set up for people who
    want to do “too” many things
    #GHC 18
    Jack of all trades, master of none,
    oftentimes better than master of one

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  14. Growing idea that only STEM fields are
    worth knowing about
    #GHC 18

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  15. Non-STEM interests = potential loss of
    credibility for women/minorities
    #GHC 18
    wow he’s so
    well rounded
    I code, but I’m very
    design-oriented

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  16. Non-STEM interests = potential loss of
    credibility for women/minorities
    wow he’s so
    well rounded
    #GHC 18
    so…can she
    actually code?
    I code, but I’m very
    design-oriented

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  17. #GHC 18
    ✓One (1) full time
    corporate job in Big Tech
    ✓First step on permanent
    “career path”
    ✓Same-ish job description
    (just bigger) till I die
    ✓Defines my moral worth
    ✓My deepest passion and
    reason for living
    clueless
    college
    student

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  18. Because of these cultural molds,
    multipotentialites face…
    #GHC 18
    Burnout Anxiety Impostor
    Syndrome

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  19. #GHC 18
    None of these things has to be true

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  20. Start being more intentional by
    mapping your interests
    #GHC 18
    Teaching/Mentoring
    Art-making
    Design/Organizing
    Interactive Tech
    Perception and Truth
    . . .

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  21. You have options
    Super variety job Parallel jobs Serial jobs Good Enough job
    declining
    significance of job

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  22. OPTION 1
    Find (or create) a job with enough
    variety built in
    #GHC 18
    x y Tech :-)

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  23. #GHC 18
    Design
    Organizing
    Stuff
    Research/
    Writing
    Tech
    Program
    Manager*
    *at Microsoft. On my team. Varies by company.

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  24. #GHC 18
    Liza Knipscher, medical app/game developer at Barrow Neurological Institute
    Biology Visual Art Tech
    Medical
    Application
    Developer

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  25. #GHC 18
    OPTION 2
    Get the variety you need from
    multiple formal jobs (in parallel)

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  26. Pinky Weitzman, Chief Digital Officer/rock multi-instrumentalist

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  27. Lyndsey Scott, iOS developer/model/actor

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  28. #GHC 18
    OPTION 3
    Have multiple formal jobs (serial)
    Zach Weinersmith, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal #2722
    (you don’t even need to master each job)

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  29. OPTION 4
    Reject the myth of “passion” –
    it’s okay to have a Good Enough Job
    #GHC 18
    Photos (c/w): WeWork, Wright Foundation,
    WeWork again (sorry), Gecko&Fly

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  30. No one right way to do this
    Super variety job Parallel jobs Serial jobs Good Enough job
    Formal PM job Casual freelancing Work-life balance > “cool” job
    Never bring work home

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  31. No matter which path(s) you choose,
    you’re very valuable
    Super variety job Parallel jobs Serial jobs Good enough job

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  32. Society needs to change too, so get
    others on board!
    #GHC 18
    Photo: Nathan Rupert

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  33. Actual Microsoft Office®

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  34. Being a multipotentialite is about
    embracing a fluid notion of identity
    #GHC 18

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  35. In conclusion
    #GHC 18
    1. Multipotentialites are real and valuable
    2. Your career doesn’t have to fit a mold
    • Consider an “everything” job
    • or multiple jobs (serial/parallel)
    • and no shame in a good enough job
    3. Don’t let society get you down
    @krysjez
    jessicayang.org/tmi  will post links and interviews someday

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