Tell us a little about you.
Hi, I’m Beth! I have colorful hair and I love natural light and my least favorite sound is airplanes flying over my apartment.
I live in NYC at the moment (as of 2 months ago), my heart is in Seattle, and all my childhood memories are of Sydney.
I’m a software engineer at Flatiron Health - we’re working to learn from the experience of every cancer patient (only 4% of whom are currently in clinical trials 😬).
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?
I just started a new job about 2 months ago and so mostly I’m working on learning a lot. People often describe it as drinking from the firehose, but this time around for me it feels like being a sponge - absorbing as much as possible!
It’s the most intense onboarding I’ve done - I’m learning about the healthcare industry, about oncology (Cancer: The Emperor of all maladies is a great book I highly recommend), about medical billing, how Flatiron operates, the relationship between Roche (parent company) + Flatiron, + all of the sibling companies, getting to know all my coworkers, and navigating a new city and norms! On top of that, the tech stack is very standard, but largely new to me (coming from VR) so I’m working with databases for the first time (wild, I know), and learning react.
I love that I’m learning a lot (I bought this great notebook that I take to every meeting), that my team are super friendly, and that my manager is giving me the space to prioritize gathering context and reading up on best practices over immediately contributing code.
What do you feel most you in and why?
A short skirt, crop tee, denim jacket, lightweight dangly earrings. A mix of black/white/colors. Good walking boots. Mascara and Sephora’s blackberry sorbet lipstick. It’s an outfit combo that makes me feel put together, cute, and fun!
That said, I feel most free when I know my outfit can take me anywhere. So a 3-seasons outfit of sneakers, leggings, a sweat-resistant shirt, a lightweight sweater.
How did you land where you are now? Did you have a plan?
I would love to be the kind of person who has a 5/10/20 year roadmap for their life, but I’m not. Instead, 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.
I want to make the world better, but I’m not sure just yet how to go about doing that. I’m gathering context, collecting experiences, and working on becoming better at a concrete skill (software engineering) in the hopes that along the way I’ll discover what I should be working on, and have grown into someone who can add value at it.
That’s all the meta-level, the object level answer is that I accepted my intern return offer from Microsoft after graduating, worked there on some very cool cutting edge tech for almost 5 years, and now I’ve pivoted completely to a smaller company on the opposite coast working with very classic tech in healthcare.
How has your style evolved to what it is now?
My style’s evolved partly out of practical necessity - I traveled for 4 months this year, so I started to upgrade to performance fabrics, because it was pretty important that my shirts could handle a long plane trip without getting too sweaty. Things like Icebreaker merino wool, or Ably shirts (a local Seattle company!). That tends to come with an element of more casual/block colors, so really leaning into combining basics in a fun way.
I went to a restaurant in London that described the dress code as Art Casual, and that’s solidly aspirational - I try to dress so that I could walk in almost anywhere and not look too out of place.
Do you have any style icons or favorite brands?
Some of my absolute favorite pieces are from Galaxy Wear - an amazing Seattle artist who creates custom painted pieces. I have a denim jacket from her that I wear as much as possible.
This year I’ve been very into Gap jeans - they have a Tall line which is perfect for me and my 34” legs - #TallPeopleProblems
I leaned pretty heavily on Aritzia for smarter staples when I first got to NYC. They’re more fast-fashion than I’d like, and pricier, but their Babaton blouses go with everything and look great - sometimes you just need a staple.
What do you wish you’d known when you first started working?
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. It’s wild to me that I worked with some people for months/years and never chatted with them 1:1.
Is your professional style different from your personal style?
Somewhat - for a couple of reasons!
Practical considerations: My new office is always freezing, so I plan what I wear around wearing a fuzzy sweater! I’m also more willing to wear nicer pants/jackets/shoes to work than I might on a weekend, because I have a fairly decent idea that most of my time is going to be spent inside an office (plus, it’s fun to cosplay workplace professional :P)
Stylistic differences: My wardrobe is a mostly-overlapping Venn diagram, where the work-only clothes include some tech-themed graphic tees, and the !work-only clothes include some shorter skirts, very cropped shirts, graphic tees with expletives, cocktail dresses, etc.
What’s a project you’ve worked on that you’re proud of?
I’m honestly so proud of the work that we did on Microsoft Layout, and the work I did on the menus for it. Working in XR is a constant process of discovering/inventing best practices - for application architecture, for running on a specific device, for the user experience.
I was fortunate to work with some truly fantastic designers to explore what a menu should look like in a heads up display, and how it differs in VR - we built 3D equivalents of a hamburger menu, reinvented CSS for our app inside of Unity to enable hot-swapping of styles to increase accessibility, and I learned a lot about what it’s like to build UI when there’s a lot less of an established framework than on something like the web.