1) Be Open to New Possibilities
I'll let you in on a secret: when I first got offered the Communications Coordinator position, I was a little apprehensive about accepting it. I'm majoring in Communications and minoring in English; science, technology, engineering and math are not subjects that I go out of my way to engage with. However, I loved WWEST's mission and purpose so much that I decided to put aside my reservations and accept the offer anyway, and now, I am so glad that I did. Working here has opened my eyes to the magical world of STEM, introduced me to concepts like unconscious bias and microaggressions, and given me the opportunity to work with some truly incredible women. While I can't say that I'm switching my major to Math or reading books on quantum mechanics in my spare time, I have a newfound respect for all the women in STEM who are working hard to inspire the next generation and make STEM more inclusive for everybody. It's an experience I wouldn't have been able to get elsewhere, and I'm so thankful to everyone at WWEST for welcoming me with open arms.
2) Let Your Passions Guide You
As a Communication student, I've done a lot of reading and writing on the way that the digital world impacts the world around us; I'm also a self-proclaimed Twitter addict and spend (way) too much time on most forms of social media. And I've always tried to make activism an integral part of my life, whether it's on behalf of women or other marginalized populations. Those things united in a happy explosion when I started at WWEST, where I got to use social media in order to support and promote various activist movements. Working here has allowed me to gain practical experience in areas like marketing and communications, while knowing that my work is doing good out there in the world. I was also given a huge amount of freedom when it came to writing blog posts, so I was able to write on a number of topics that I feel very strongly about, including the US election and why representation in media matters. One time, I even got to post a Tweet about Hamilton that went sadly (and unjustly) unappreciated. All this to say: whether it's in the office or otherwise, make time for things that you're passionate about. Learn what issues or activities matter most to you, and pursue them. At the end of the day, you will be left with work that you can be proud of.
3) Keep Looking Up
I'm sad to be leaving WWEST. I've enjoyed learning about the network of fantastic outreach groups in the BC/Yukon region, working with people who care about WWEST's mission as much as I do, and endlessly deliberating over which word I should cut from a Tweet so that it will fit the character limit. But if WWEST has taught me anything, it's that the future is bright. Even in my short time here, I've had the honour of working with so many groups and individuals that are dedicated to promoting awareness, understanding, and respect, both within STEM and in the world at large. I've watched people across the globe refuse to be silent in the face of injustice. And I saw feedback from the beta test of our new Outreach App, in which one of the kids wrote that the app was "dope," "lit," and "bug-free." (If you've been agonizing over names for your new punk band, I think "Dope, Lit and Bug-Free" is a great choice.) All of these things, in different ways, have given me hope for the coming days, and months, and years. I know that after I leave, WWEST will still be here, funding outreach groups, producing awesome podcast episodes, and providing support for women in all stages of their STEM careers. So if you're feeling down about the state of the world, keep your chin up. The future is never a sure thing, but love is. And so are people who care, and so are small victories that nudge the arc of the moral universe slowly and surely towards justice.
Thank you for your support of WWEST and women in STEM over the past eight months. I've seen it, I've been inspired by it, and I will continue to be inspired by it in the years to come.
Oh, and you should definitely come to Creating Connections 5.0 in May! I'll be there, coffee mug in hand, trying to figure out how I'm going to post to eighteen different social media accounts at once.