I’m Erin. I have mostly been defined by my careers, as most of us are. So let’s start with that. When I was 19, I started my own massage practice. In my 20s, I attended graduate school in Occupational Therapy. If you knew the requirements for OT school, you’d know why I include that. The observation hours, the prerequisites, the essays, the entrance interviews, and then the stringency of the program itself…it still defines me. But I left that program so I could work with technology. I thought technology was the answer for helping more people. I earned my M.S. degree in Human-Computer Interaction at The Georgia Institute of Technology. From there, I got a dream job as an assistant game designer for a therapeutic game company that was half game development and half clinical psychology.
Okay, it wasn’t exactly a dream job. I was often tasked with writing character dialogues, having meetings with researchers who assumed I knew nothing of research, creating flow charts, writing up project requirements and who is responsible for what, and lots and lots of programming artificial intelligence…..and more character dialogue. I really did love the project management and creating game flowcharts, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be part of the research team. I did what I could to incorporate my own research into our meetings about the games, but that was frowned upon. It wasn’t my place.
So I found an exciting “Workaway” adventure where I could ride horses and take care of camels and all kinds of animals…and I quit. I got rid of everything that couldn’t fit in my car next to my dog and cat, and drove across the country to be surrounded by animals on a beautiful farm until I found a real research job. That was May 2016. Little did I know my search would last for over a year…