About Beth Crane ✨

Last touched up: Nov 2022

About Beth Crane ✨

Tell us a little about you.

Beth's wearing a purple shirt (with drawings of gators on it) and purple sunglasses, and pointing at a sign for a diner that says Brent's Drugs
The shirt says gators we have met

Hi, I’m Beth! I have colorful hair and I love natural light and I’m trying to figure out why I exist in this world.

I live in Brooklyn. I’m a Staff Software Engineer at Flatiron Health - we’re working to reimagine the infrastructure of cancer care in order to learn from the experience of every person with cancer (only 4% of whom are currently in clinical trials), and to try to improve the lives of everyone who comes into contact with it.

I’m also a photographer (you can find sporadic updates on instagram or regular updates on flickr), a big fan of my friends’ bands, just enough into mechanical keycaps to be dangerous, and happily keeping my ~20 houseplants alive 🌱

Ask me about Effective Altruism, or why Nobody Wants To See Birds.

What are you working on at the moment, and what do you love about it?

Beth's wearing a little black dress over a gray turtleneck, standing in front of the Seattle Wheel

I’m currently working on a project at Flatiron that involves making it easier for clinicians to order and review the results of genomic tests, without leaving the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) app — i.e. without faxing something, or logging into another website. There’s some surprisingly complex pieces, and I’m learning a lot about cloud services, infrastructure as code, and enabling different parts of a system to talk to each other. I’ve been working very cross-functionally on my current team, which has been challenging and rewarding - I think we can often fail to acknowledge how much friction can be involved in learning to partner smoothly and successfully across multiple disciplines.

How did you land where you are now? Did you have a plan?

Lots of sunflares. Beth's wearing a rainbow button down and black shorts, with 8 ball earrings

I have never had a plan in my life.

I try to live my life such that good opportunities come knocking, and I’m able to be open to them. I want the default path (the path of least resistance), to be one that’s going to lead to growth, happiness, and more opportunities. It’s working out okay so far (periodic existential crises aside!).

Do you have any style icons or favorite brands?

Beth's wearing a tee that says Daisy Grenade, and standing inside the Union Station hotel clock tower
Wearing our bubblegum punk princesses - Daisy Grenade

I’ve never been someone who watched fashion shows or felt particularly up to date on the trends - so here’s less on the style icons, more on the brands I’ve stumbled upon!

  • I love Min and Mon - an NYC boutique that makes incredible bags
  • I’m recently enamored with vintage Eagle’s Eye sweaters - there are some fun ones online, but I haven’t yet acquired any
  • Katy at GalaxyWear is a gem and makes my jackets into art
  • Now that I’m old enough to understand why socks are a great gift, I pretty much only wear Bombas merino wool socks (year round!)

How has your style evolved to what it is now?

Mirror selfie of Beth wearing a fun Farm Rio dress over some puffy sleeves, with a fanny pack
Yeah, that's a fanny pack with a fancy dress

I went down a rabbithole through my old photos to answer this, and I’m feeling very tender towards past!beth. I’ve always expressed myself through what I’m wearing - tiny hats, bright colors, knee high socks, a favorite bag. I thought I’d tell you about how my younger self would be so stoked to see me now, and I think that’s probably still true - but she was doing alright, honestly!

I think the biggest change in my style over the past few years has probably been rekindling the love of thrifting and vintage shopping I had when I was a teenager. Back when we first started FibSeq we had a few folks talk about the impact of fast fashion, and it’s stuck with me - I think the next step is to stop buying clothes entirely, which I’m nowhere near! But I’ve been seeking out more natural fabrics - wool sweaters and silk shirts instead of pleather and polyester.

One thing I love about NYC (and the Gen Z kids online), is that the definition of fashion is really broad. Anything goes these days as long as you feel cool in it. I’ve been trying to have more fun with it - finding novel thrifted pieces, layering dresses over floaty sleeves, pairing my sneakers with a tiny splash of neon orange with earrings in the same shade so that it ties together.

I think my fashion game is a constant battle between creating rules for myself of what I like and feel good in (because humans need heuristics to function!) and then me trying to push those boundaries and experiment, to make sure I’m not getting too complacent.

These days I’ve been loving floaty sleeves and flare jeans (the balance!! I’m obsessed), button up shirts (but only in a gay way), and learning to layer necklaces.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started working?

Another mirror selfie. Beth's wearing a long black cardigan (almost a cape) over jeans and a blouse
Welcome to my office bathroom

That it’s okay for it to be hard! I think it took me around a year into my first job to reach any kind of flow state, and many more for that to be a regular occurrence.

That taking notes in meetings, and asking questions that refer back to them, will get you pretty dang far.

That you can set up regular 1:1s with your coworkers, not just your manager, and that you can at any point hit someone up for a 1:1 coffee/walk just to get to know the other person better.

That many many people feel like they are underqualified for their jobs - I think there’s a moment along the way in a career, similar to the one we all eventually have with our parents, where we realize everyone is human, and doing their best, and figuring it out as they go. You’re not alone, and I hope you won’t let it hold you back.

What’s a project you’ve worked on that you’re proud of?

The boots steal the show - knee high blue boots, bathroom mirror selfie, black skirt, cropped denim jacket

Earlier this year I put together a lightning talk about Carbon Offsets as part of a Climate-focused Hackathon at Flatiron, to highlight and discuss the news that Flatiron had purchased enough offsets to reach 100% carbon neutrality for 2021 (announcement).

It took probably around 12 hours to pull this together! Synthesizing information, especially on a rapidly-evolving topic with a lot of nuance, is time consuming, but it felt worthwhile to do that for carbon offsets - they’re increasingly talked about (and voted about), and being able to see past the headlines is valuable.

What drew you to tech?

Beth's wearing a black denim jacket, studded with lil pearls, with blue jeans and her kazland art shirt
Does it count as double denim if they're different colors?

I feel like I’ve been on a slow-moving current towards tech for a long time. Throughout school I was a track kid, and much too delighted by the Marquee tag, and one of those had a more obvious future. I grew up copying snippets of HTML to decorate my Neopets store, and then to customize my MySpace page, and eventually to write this blog.

The thrill of seeing something happen because of some text that I wrote (or stole) still hasn’t really gone away.

Are you involved in communities outside of STEM/tech? How are they different from communities inside or around it?

Beth's drinking an iced oat chai, wearing a yellow shirt, yellow earrings, and holding a yellow phone case
Repping Bandits on the Run

Yes and no - not as much as I’d like to be! I’ve been trying to figure out for a few years now what it means to be in community.

I haven’t felt fully settled anywhere since I left Seattle in early 2019 - I moved, and covid hit, and then I ended up splitting my time between coasts. I’m thrilled to be back and just living in NYC now, and figuring out how I can be more involved here. I’ve applied to volunteer at both the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden - we’ll see if anything comes of either of those!

A lot of my friends these days are musicians, and I’ve been enjoying getting to know the NYC indie music scenes by going to their shows, and occasionally taking photos of them. I love that it’s all about showing up for each other - just showing up is enough. The friends I’ve made know how to celebrate each other, to support each other and ask for support, and to collaborate. It’s like that because of necessity, and I wish it were easier, but it’s also beautiful to be a part of.

I’m not particularly engaged in the online tech scene - the closest I’ve come is the Cute Keyboard Club discord. I spend too much time on a computer, and I’ve been moving further and further away from social media over the past year. But I’ve always found community in my coworkers, and that stays true at Flatiron. I think people shy away from that sometimes, and I’ve thought often about how much of myself I want to invest into my job - something that is inherently transactional, and where the relationships can feel less real, less permanent, than those outside work.

Every time someone I’ve treasured working with leaves I can taste the old bitterness that tells me to run away rather than dig in - but that’s no way to live. I spend 40+ hours a week with my coworkers - we strive towards the same goals, we navigate the same obstacles - that’s a community whether you choose to invest in it or not, and it’s always made my life better to find ways to opt in. There are parts that are similar - ultimately a lot of community is just showing up, wherever you are, I think - but in many ways, once you’ve made it into the tech industry the hustle becomes less social, and so the communal fabric looks different.

Is your day-to-day work moving the world in the direction you want it to go? Is that something that’s important to you?

Beth in black sweatpants with a statue of 2 giant legs - Ozymandias
Sometimes it's December and you're on a roadtrip and sweatpants are enough

I’ve been starting to ask folks questions around things I’ve been noodling on, and this is one of those things. I feel very fortunate to work at Flatiron, and I have a hard time envisioning what my next step could look like - it will be a tough act to follow.

The Good Place pointed out that everything is so interconnected that it’s near-impossible to perform any action that isn’t also causing harm! What a world to live in. I think a lot of tech workers are very familiar with this idea - it’s hard to add up the ripple effects of what we’re working on and figure out whether we think our job is having an overall positive impact. The Good Place says that despite that, despite how morally gray and interconnected everything is, we should still try to be good. To help people, to minimize harm - to not let the difficulty in navigating and measuring our impact, or the impossibility of doing uncomplicated good, stop us from trying.

So I feel very lucky that in that world (this world), I’ve landed at a shore where I really think what we’re doing helps people. Trying to piece-by-piece build an EMR that our clinic staff enjoy using matters. Figuring out with the FDA how we can use data to safely bring new drugs to market faster matters. It’s a little hard to imagine wading back out into the murky waters of attention-grabbing apps that connect me with my friends but also treat me like a fly to lure in with honey, or to the dilemma of making products of convenience that end up eroding long-standing local businesses. But there are things out there worth doing the calculus for, and maybe I’ll leave shore for them eventually.

Before this I was working on cool new shiny tech. So maybe back there is where I’ll end up next - take a break from working on something that feels clear-cut and meaningful, and do a stint working on things that are just fun. But for now it feels important to me to be here, doing this.

What is the best way for people to connect with you?

Beth wears a long coat in front of a sign that says Be Cool or Get Lost

If you already know me, text me! Otherwise, you can find me on LinkedIn, or shoot me an email.