As a three-time software engineer intern at SPS Commerce, I’ve had the unique opportunity of experiencing three unique relationships with my embodied identity and SPS’s culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion as both have evolved over the past few years. That first summer, I was here navigating the inbetweens of emerging adulthood and a new professional environment at the same time as I was questioning if and how I could occupy this space as a queer person. I know that I am passionate about learning and more than qualified for the technical aspects of my work. Therefore, the real struggle came in allowing myself to take up space in this new environment and asserting the value of my voice and perspective. Making connections with coworkers and women across tech helped to build my confidence and solidify my ability to let my ideas occupy space.
I came into my second summer determined to work authentically. My work spoke for itself; I needed to grant the rest of myself that same permission to be. I nearly wept with joy on the first day when I saw signs posted in the office which explicitly acknowledged the existence of and support for nonbinary identities. I excitedly collected several SPS stickers with my pronouns and plastered them across my workspace. These small institutional changes combined with deepening connections and friendships at work served to subtly strengthen the presence I allowed myself to have in the office. I could spend less energy maintaining the protective facade of vague neutrality and begin to let more of my authentic self peak through. Unfortunately, this progress was stymied by a strained internship experience which left me feeling that I wasn’t fully accepted as “here”, a sense that was only amplified by the isolation of family tragedy which was unfolding simultaneously.
Despite uncertainty over whether or not I wanted to return to SPS and technology as a whole, three was indeed the magic number and I finally feel that I can say “I’m Here” with full confidence at SPS. I am grateful for my coworkers who have supported my curiosity and valued my work while at the same time creating an environment which enables me to be fully as an individual.
I frequently find myself occupying a kind of in-between space. Between technology and humanities worlds. Between genders. Between mental health. Between ages and experience. Between representation and invisibility. Through these experiences I have developed a passion and commitment for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the world. In high school, I served on OutFront Minnesota’s Youth Council supporting education and empowerment for queer youth across the state. I also led Spectrums, Eagan High School’s student-led queer organization. As a college student, I am a Computer Science tutor working primarily with women who are just starting out in programming; in this role, I am able to reach out to others who may not feel represented in technology and help them recognize their own potential. Additionally, my studies in college are devoted to examining intersectional and structural power and their influence on how people are able to move through the world. I am currently developing a research program with Gustavus Adolphus College dedicated to engaging the St Peter community and GAC students into discussion with anti-racist and feminist theory.
At the end of the day, I’m Here for the kinds of community and connection that encourage other in-between people to find confidence in their voices as well.
“I’m Here” is an initiative that SPS Technology launched to strengthen our culture, improve diversity, and become a more inclusive organization. We feature “I’m Here” stories to share experiences and perspectives from volunteers across our teams.