The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force presents Pride in STEM, with Griffin Solot-Kehl, a Developer Advocate at Dolby Laboratories.
Griffin offers great advice for up-and-coming developers to be loud, build things, and make connections. He also sends a call to organizations to strive to create diverse and representative leadership.
Why Did You Choose Your Current Technical Field?
Griffin I was a Computer Science major at university, but I knew very early on that I didn’t want to be a software engineer. As I went to a liberal arts college, I wanted to use my technical background with the interpersonal skills I learned as a part of the core curriculum, leading me to developer relations.
What Does a Typical Day or Week Look Like for You as a Developer Advocate?
Griffin It changes every day! I spend a lot of my time working with APIs, both internal and external, where I try to create sample applications and collaboration opportunities with other companies. This leads into content creation like blog posts, videos, streams, webinars, demos, and participation at meetups and conferences. I work cross-functionally with marketing, engineering, product, and sales, so it’s a little bit of everything!
What’s Been Your Greatest Professional Challenge as a Member of the LGBTQ+ Community, and How Did You Overcome It?
Griffin Relating to the “bro culture.” While not as prevalent in more stereotypically masculine professions, there’s always a semblance of “bro-iness” that can be hard to navigate through when you don’t always share the same interests or partake in some of the more toxic parts of work culture.
What Is One Piece of Advice You Can Give to LGBTQ+ Students and Early Career Professionals?
Griffin Be loud, build things, make connections. If you have stuff on your resume, people care, but list it out! There is a huge and flourishing queer game development space out there where you can learn to code in Python or C#, which are super valuable skills to use in industry, so put them on your resume! Connections lead to job referrals, and being loud leads to confidence in presentation. Also, be nice to the admin team. They know everything about everyone.
Who Is One Role Model Who You Personally Admire and Why?
Griffin Is it cliche to say Alan Turing? Way ahead of his time. A more modern example I would have to say is Woz. I just admire people who build for the sake of innovation and progress, not just the dollar sign at the end. And those who stay true to those beliefs.
Are There Any Issues in the Industry That the Computing Community Needs to Be Made Aware Of?
Griffin Lack of representation in leadership. The number of out queer executives in tech is extremely disappointing. There’s a lot of fear in people I know about coming out professionally, which I am just upset is still something people have to fear in the first place. Once we have more representation being out and proud will help more people feel safe to express themselves and help normalize it. Which, ideally, will also help get rid of some of the bro culture too.
What Are Some Ways Computing Can Aid the LGBTQ+ Communities That You’re Not Currently Seeing in Research or the Market?
Griffin Website building and education! Tumblr was great to teach a bunch of queer youth how to use HTML, but now that Tumblr is dead that’s gone! So many small businesses and nonprofits frankly could do well with some basic JAMStack education and a Shopify account, which really isn’t that much to have to swallow! Also making SSL Certs easier to understand. Why do HTTP-non-S websites still exist in 2022?
About Griffin Solot-Kehl:
Griffin works in Developer Relations at Dolby Laboratories. He identifies as gay, queer, homosexual, cis-male, he/him, boy/man, and is out at work. Connect with Griffin on Twitter to learn more about his passions and how he’s helping the LGBTQ+ developer community.