Tech was not my first career. By the time I was hired for my first UX writing role, I’d worked in publishing and theater. I was edging out of my 30s. And as a parent, a woman, and a Latina, I didn’t see many people around me at work who were going through the same things I was going through.
It seemed clear that I did not belong. And yet I did, in large part because I was edging out of my 30s. Because I’d had careers outside of tech. Because I was a parent, a woman, and a Latina who’d spent a long time exploring these facets of my identity—and recognized that they made me a better designer and partner to my colleagues. I claimed that space of belonging because I saw the value my unique perspective brought to design work.
But that confidence didn’t come overnight, and I didn’t feel it every day. It developed over many years and after a long stretch of time deeply assimilating, as my parents had as Cuban immigrants. Though my first language was Spanish and I was always proud of where my family came from, it wasn’t until I arrived at the vast campus of the University of Michigan that I unpacked what that history meant to me—and why it was important to celebrate it, particularly around others who did not understand why it mattered.