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Media Makers Profile: Sara Inés Calderón

Title: Lead Mobile Developer

Current Employer: musx

How long: Since June of 2017

Education: BA Communication, Stanford University

I was born in LA, grew up in the San Gabriel Valley -- La Puente and West Covina. In high school I moved to Riverside, and then San Antonio, where I graduated high school. Most of my family is from the border in Texas, so I have roots in both California and Texas.

" content is of the utmost importance because if you are not on the Internet, you effectively do not exist -- and neither does your story."

What got you interested in digital content or content storytelling as we call it?

At some point I realized that, in none of the stories I consumed -- newspapers, TV, books, magazines, etc -- were there people like me. When I started writing for The Stanford Daily (campus newspaper) in college, I did so pointedly because I wanted to tell stories no one else would. When I worked professionally as a journalist this was my same aim. Now that I'm no longer professionally telling stories, I find that telling *my own* story via social media and blogs is powerful in the sense that I'm providing the type of content I set out to find in the first place. I'm telling the stories for Latinas in tech or the media that they were looking for.

What does a typical day look like - or give the reader an idea what you do when out in the field.

I work at a super small music startup in Austin, Texas. As soon as I get up, often from dreaming about Javascript, I head to the office where we have our daily standup. I usually check in with the other developers to see where they are at with their work and whether they need help, then the rest of the day is me working on my own tickets, reviewing code (pull requests), other meetings and more coding. I love where I work because we have a super diverse team that is very communicative, so even though it's fast-paced and can be stressful, we all help and respect each other, so every day at work is lovely.

Why has digital content become so important in the information marketplace?

I think the fact that you can find niche content to suit any particular niche is what makes digital content important. When I was growing up it still wasn't common to have Internet at home, and if you did it was dial-up. Now young people have Twitter, Instagram, the World Wide Web, which means they aren't just consuming what they're given as I did, rather, they are actively pursuing information they want to consume. In that sense, digital content is of the utmost importance because if you are not on the Internet, you effectively do not exist -- and neither does your story.

What advice would you give any young aspiring content producer?

For anyone aspiring to be a content producer, I would advise them to hone in on the long game, not the short game, as the latter is very bumpy, but the former is where all the wins are. If you focus on a single project, or opportunity, and it doesn't work out (they often won't), you may feel unsuccessful and inclined to give up. The truth is, "success" is the product of time and persistence -- and sometimes lucky breaks. The other thing I would say is to be nice to people -- you never know who you will run into again. Be a good person, someone people enjoy working with, network, and eventually you'll find yourself in a position of knowing people with whom you can collaborate on dream projects. With these two points of advice in mind, you'll wake up one day and realize that you got what you wanted -- it doesn't always look like you imagined it would.

Why is it important to ensure that the people who define and create content reflect the audience/readers - essentially why do we need more diverse digital storytellers?

The simplest answer to this question is content is boring if it's all about white boys/men! I remember reading CS Lewis, Tolkien, those fantasy-type books, being a huge Star Trek TNG nerd and thinking to myself -- "I want to have adventures! When do people like me get to have adventures!" No one in these places were immigrants, or poor, or Latina. Secondly, my own experience with working in tech is a good example. My parents' generation were all college-educated teachers, so when my classmates in high school started taking computer science classes, there wasn't anyone around to tell me, "Sara you should take this class, you should pursue this." I went to Stanford and it never occurred to me to pursue technology -- I had to wait 10 years after graduating college before someone told me that it was something I could do! And now that I do it, I realize I do it well, and I can see how different my life would have played out if there were someone telling stories about how Latinas work in technology.

Finally, "Black Panther" is an excellent example of how essential diverse storytelling is -- not only did this film give work to a ton of black professionals, but it has inspired not only children, but adults, to be anything they want to be, and so much more than what is usually the portrayal of African Americans in American media.


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