"How a Group of AR/VR Women Are Building Pathways for Students"
How did the unique life experiences of four different women lead them to create opportunities for students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds? Sun C., a supply chain manager at the Facebook company, was the first in her family to get an education beyond primary school, and nothing stopped her from achieving her dream. Ruth B. started life in an orphanage during the Lebanese Civil War. She was later adopted by an American couple who helped her find her true life passion—giving back to her community. These women would eventually meet Elisabeth M. and Jocelyn C. at Facebook, where they would harness their collective passions to create programs that help underrepresented students.
The Women of AR/VR Steering Committee empowers and enables women on the Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) team at the Facebook company by building and developing an inclusive community through professional development, peer support, and community outreach. Its Education Committee, led by Sun C., Ruth B., Elisabeth M., and Jocelyn C., focuses on curriculum and educational programs for girls, under-represented groups, and under-resourced students who are interested in careers in tech and gaming.
The Education Committee collaborates closely with community organizations, schools, and nonprofits. Committee members also volunteer outside of their regular work hours and host students on campus for workshops, hackathons, career panels, and tech talks. Working cross-functionally with teams from hardware, software, operations, and creative, the committee aims to share not only career achievements, but also obstacles and hardships.
"We want students to understand that there are many different paths towards a career, which can be as unique as a person's personality. Sometimes, the road to success isn't always easy, linear, or straight-forward. There can be many obstacles and unexpected turns and twists, but with hard work, dedication, perseverance, and resilience, they can achieve anything they set their minds to," says Sun C.
In February, the Education Committee hosted its seventh career day event. They brought together students from a Bay Area middle school with Facebook software engineers, program managers, electrical engineers, designers, and product researchers for a day of workshops and presentations on a variety of topics. Students learned how to identify and combat cyberbullying, talked about different career journeys, heard how products and games are designed, and experienced an Oculus Go demo first hand.
Local students learning about employee perspectives at our career outreach day
Students participate in VR demos, panel discussions and lunch and learn sessions during our career outreach day
Level Designer Oneil H. speaks about game design to high school students from the 100 Black Men of Silicon Valley organization.
Each of the founding members has a unique background that has shaped their identities and paths. Read on to learn more about their journeys.
Sun C.: Empowered by her own education
Sun immigrated to the United States with her parents from Cambodia in 1979 with only the clothes on their backs and big hopes of achieving the American dream. Although Sun's parents were only able to attend primary school before the war and genocide broke out in Cambodia, they understood the importance of education as a mechanism for opening doors to opportunities that were not available to them. Sun became the first person in her family to attend college—earning both bachelor's and master's degrees from UCLA in 2000 and UCSD 2004, respectively. Prior to joining Facebook, Sun worked at several other major tech companies. Today, she has more than 13 years of experience managing overseas factories in China and launching new consumer electronics products in the global marketplace. She joined the Oculus team in 2016 and is a supply chain manager.
Sun with her parents after recently immigrating to the US as refugees from the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia in 1979.
Ruth B.: Sharing her gift of music and mentorship
Shortly after she was born during the Lebanese Civil War, Ruth was placed in an orphanage and was adopted by an American couple who helped her realize her musical gifts and pursue her extracurricular passions—giving back to those who need mentorship, support, and motivation to get through school. Ruth took her songs and guitar on the road and visited K-12 classrooms for four years, encouraging students to stay in school. She also developed a program that was promoted within the Miss America Organization, giving her a larger voice to help more students in need.
While completing her bachelor's and master's degrees at Stanford University, Ruth joined Oculus in 2014. She is a game and entertainment producer working to build the future of AR/VR content and has worked on a variety of successful games at Oculus, including notable titles like Dance Central, Marvel Powers United VR, as well as The People's House, which won an Emmy in the category for 360 VR film.
Ruth presents her music program in a Texas elementary school.
Elisabeth M.: Experienced the power of education first-hand
From a young age, Elisabeth loved spending time volunteering and tutoring at schools. She saw the power of education first-hand while working as an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor in high school and college.
In 2018, Elisabeth joined Oculus to lead Sales Strategy & Operations. In her role, she focuses on building strategic plans and processes to drive Oculus and Portal sales growth for the AR/VR Global Sales organization. Elisabeth regularly dedicates time outside of the office to an organization called YearUp, where she empowers young adults from non-traditional backgrounds to build careers in tech.
Elisabeth (left) and Sun (right) with students during a Facebook campus visit.
Jocelyn C.: An appreciation for art and creativity
A few trips to California and a growing fascination with the diversity of Silicon Valley inspired Jocelyn to move from Asia to the San Francisco Bay Area. Born and raised in Taiwan, she founded a small company that developed database software in 2014—but she saw more promising business development and fundraising opportunities in the United States.
Jocelyn joined Oculus in 2017 as a strategic sourcing manager. Today, she develops and maintains relationships with contract manufacturers that build Oculus' AR/VR hardware, ensuring products are built with superior quality at a competitive cost. Coming from a country where the education system focuses on exams and homework, Jocelyn appreciates programs that promote art and creativity. She's happy to have the privilege to give back to the community. Most recently, she helped organize a Game Design and Leadership Day, an Education Committee partnership with the Girl Scout of West Washington, where girls ages 11 to 13 learned how to program.
Jocelyn (right) at a start-up workshop in 2015.
Diversity and inclusion are incredibly important values at Facebook. As a company, we spend a lot of time discussing, building, and creating opportunities for diverse perspectives both here and in the tech industry overall. There are many different ways to approach and address this issue. The Education Committee's approach is to start early, by reaching out to students in diverse socioeconomic areas and giving them a glimpse at how hard work, dedication, perseverance, and resilience in education can take them far in life.
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
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