30 June 2014

What inspired you to join the technology industry?

In theological circles, and especially in theological schools, there's a lot of talk around “call” and a sense of “calling.” But, ask a programmer about “call” or “calling” and you'll probably hear about using a functions or object-methods.

When I read about Google's Code School Learning Opportunity I knew I wanted to apply. Code School issues Open Badges!

The open-ended, final question on the application took me by surprise: What inspired you to join the technology industry? Wait a sec! Did a tech giant just ask about my “call story”? Yeah, I think so.

I have my doubts about whether a human at Google will actually read my application. If the filtering algorithm looks for compound and/or complex sentences, there might be a chance. However, I know there are humans that will read this post. So, I'll also share my technology “call story” with the handful of folks curious enough to click the link in an email or a Tweet.

A year and a half ago, I encountered an electronic health record system for the first time. After only a couple minutes in the consulting room, tense silence interrupted the usual, easy conversation. I watched, appalled, as my psychiatrist fought his way through the clunky, poorly sequenced fields of the e-prescribing interface. An engaged healthcare consumer, I quickly voiced my concern, mitigating the effect on our treatment relationship. This relieved the immediate anxiety I felt as a patient, but my concern as an advocate held fast. What impact would this technology have on those who already feel disempowered by the healthcare system? How would it affect the health of people at the margins of society?

A half-dozen years earlier, I'd left web application development to pursue a graduate degree in theology, focusing on social justice. The two fields scarcely touched, and in social justice theology, I found the kind of passion I'd seen—but, despite my aptitude, never experienced—as a programmer. Likewise, I scarcely looked back, even after leaving theological school without a degree.

That afternoon, as I watched technology that should have facilitated the provision of healthcare impede my doctor's work, these seemingly disparate and disjoint fields collided. During my theological study, I lacked a clear sense of “call” or vocation, but in that collision it began to crystallize. My “call” is neither in technology nor in social justice; my call is in both technology AND social justice.

That's it. …the short-version, at least.

Finally, share the link to the application form with others who might want to apply. And if you know a girl who's crafty, creative, or thinks technology is kind of cool, tell her to check out Made with Code, it's a pretty neat site (even if does have lots of pink).