introducing the panel Exploring Pathways: Finding Your Place of Impact
is a UX researcher at Google, place of impact with users in studies at work
UX researcher at Duolingo with ABC app focused on kids' reading in their native language, impact is with learners, kids, families, parents, teachers, and the product itself
works for Utah State University but lives in Long Beach, CA, does curriculum design, teacher education, and research, always exploring new pathways for impact
based in Bogota, Colombia, Associate Professor at Universidad Javeriana, research center in Colombia, and Berkman at Harvard. Impact follows a winding and networked pathway. Part of the Digital Media & Learning Initiative since the beginning.
I (Kimberly) love hearing how varied Andres's pathway has been! Focuses on projects & collaborations as much as positions/institutions. <3!
UX Researcher at YouTube working on fan-funding, also instructor and affiliated researcher at universities
What strategies/values/criteria did you use to navigate your own process of finding your place of impact? What helped ground you? What did you prioritize?
Find the heart of who you are and what you want to do and keep it at the center as you try a bunch of different things.
is knitting right now. I'm (Kimberly) crocheting right now!
goal was to support youth across their lives & now does so through curriculum design, teacher education, research.
Be open to relationships and opportunities. Sometimes you feel like you're pushing against a wall. Take a break from pushing against the wall and look for what's already open.
Making connections across spaces (eg families & institutions, communities & workspace) is the heart of Debbie's work. Allowing parts of life outside research to come through in research life.
Impact is a moving target in the face of change. Be attuned to your context. Grasp opportunities as they appear.
Pay attention to communities and mentors who give you space to join your interests.
It takes energy to keep finding projects, grow, connect, build communities.
Searching for the intersections where your impact will be takes time and work. Think about the types of impact you want your work to have, what outcomes do you want your work to have? Who do you want to be affected? In what ways?
YouTube team leveraged specific work from Jen's dissertation to impact product development and that was really exciting.
tried a lot of things out in grad school. Academic research, contributing to academic community & body of knowledge, direct impact on kids in classrooms, volunteered at conferences, TAed, volunteered in early childhood classroom, internships.
Applied to lots of different jobs, teaching postdocs at liberal arts, faculty at R1, UX at big tech company, research scientist at non-profit. Paid attention to what held a draw.
Started @ Joan Ganz Cooney Center impacting policy from 30,000 feet view, wanted next to get experience working on a specific project. Important to recognize that whatever you're trying now isn't something your locked into forever.
Any standout moments that led to the work you're doing now?
The interview process gave specific signal into whether community was energizing.
Unsuccessful job search led to postdoc with mentor Yasmin Kafai on e-textiles grants. Didn't get job at Cooney Center that Kiley did but DID get work from them doing a lit review with a colleague from a different grad school.
Sometimes saying NO is what leads you to your impact.
Echoes Wendy's point. Saying no clarifies priorities: I want to live in a particular place, I don't want to live away from my partner. Also echoes Kiley's point about gut checks.
How would you suggest going about finding opportunities to explore places of potential impact?
Try & apply to different things. Doing an internship during PhD program in a crisis led to connecting with a community of mentors and peers encouraging a networked, omnivorous mindset.
You need a lot of luck. The more that you try, the more opportunities you'll be able to grasp.
Sometimes the closed doors are powerful in opening up new opportunities.
Apply to jobs in places you might not have thought you would end up.
You might need to be more assertive than you would normally be, introduce yourself to people whose work you admire.
Relationships are important even if you have to foster them yourself.
Academic mentors are good at academia but you might have to look outside academia for people who can mentor you in other areas.
If you're following up on a connection, you may need to remind them how you connected before. You don't know where relationships will lead.
It might not be someone who is already in a position more advanced than yours. Might be another student or someone you met when you were both students.
How important were relationships to finding your opportunities? How did you navigate the awkwardness of asking for referrals or help finding positions? How did someone else extend an opportunity for you in a way that felt graceful?
Make connections BEFORE the exact opportunity is available. Don't wait until you see a particular job. Build relationships with people who are making the kind of impact you want. That feels more genuine.
Relationships start early and you don't know where they will lead.
Maintain connections with people mentors introduce you to.
Sometimes you connect over hobbies - people just approach me because I knit publicly.
Approach people with deep respect.
For Andres: How do you make an impact in the diverse Colombian context? How do you meet the expectations of your boss and your own expectations?
There is a shortage of resources in Colombia. It can be difficult to find research funding. At universities you need to start negotiating your agenda as a researcher and balance it with the teaching aspects. The emphasis here is more on teaching.
If you can create your own non-profit/institution, you will have more control over your own priorities because there's not a boss to tell you no.
What last thoughts or pieces of advice do you have for people wanting to find their place of impact?
Be open to new opportunities. Find ways to blend and combine your multiple interests. Carve out space to have more exploratory or informational conversations with people.
Reaching out early sets you up for having relationships and networks later.
Find the heart that keeps you going. You will have to do things that aren't part of your passion. You will find places where your passion stretches out beyond your job. You can't predict where things will happen.
Protect that heart. Find ways that feel authentic to you. Be open to places that will connect with it that you didn't expect.
Find communities whose interests and heart resonate with yours. As you join them and exchange ideas, you may find the pathway that connects your personal interests with the places that you can have an impact.
Be open to learning through the experience. Through the experience of getting somewhere you might find what fulfills you in an unexpected way.
Things will change and that's okay.
What's one thing you're looking forward to continuing or trying new as you navigate your path?
Supporting and studying K-12 computer science teachers without having prior experience in K-12. Advocating for them through publications and academia. Find ways to support them, their creativity & impact on students.