Technology careers do not have to follow a conventional path. With the right skills and confidence, any individual can do anything.
Mahault Albarracin created her path in the tech world. Initially reluctant to take on a science pathway, Albarracin first earned a bachelor’s degree in sexology.
However, with time she realized that being a sexologist wasn’t the right path for her. She decided to venture into the research field and learn web development, fully diving into the STEM field. There, she found a way to combine several of her passions while reversing some of her prejudgements regarding science.
Albarracin is now the co-founder of Sexualis, an online sexology health platform. She is also the Director of Operations for Nested Minds, a research cooperative that creates a more humanistic form of artificial intelligence and solves problems through models and predictions.
During a Fireside Chat hosted by ENTITY Academy and Woz U, Albarracin shared her ample experiences working in the technology field. She also provided insight on building client relationships that properly communicate expectations and set a path for successful work.
Creating Resources For a Taboo Topic
Working with a clinical sexologist in the field, Albarracin created Sexualis so people could have the opportunity to discuss human sexuality in a comfortable space. She thought there was a need to create an online resource because it did not exist.
“To be very honest, the harder the taboo, the more the service is necessary because of the anonymity of the Internet,” shared Albarracin during the Fireside Chat.
Sex is considered a taboo topic depending on one’s morals and values. According to Psychology Today, theorists Piaget and Kohlberg found an individual’s morals and values derive from their cultural, familial, and religious beliefs.
A person who is uncomfortable talking about sex or sexual health can’t properly communicate their feelings in relationships or be knowledgeable about important information, said Sex Research and Educator Debby Herbenick in a Ted Talk.
Albarracin saw the need to create an online resource and had the web development skills necessary to work on the technical end of development. Albarracin created both the front-end and back-end development for the platform using Node.js. She also received help from designers on the more aesthetic points of front-end development.
In the end, she created an online platform that allows individuals to learn about human sexuality in several ways.
They can choose to speak with a sexologist through video, audio, or chat boxes. If someone feels uncomfortable speaking openly about sexuality, they can utilize a self-help program where they don’t have to communicate with another person.
A More Human-Like Artificial Intelligence
As Director of Operations for Nested Minds, Albarracin also works in artificial intelligence. Nested Minds is a research cooperative that looks for a more human way of conceptualizing the artificial brain.
Nested Minds brings together professionals in the STEM and social science fields to build machine learning models that can help address issues across industries. It also allows them to share research.
One creation that Nested Minds has designed is Huxley. Huxley is an AI artist that creates art based on the human language.
Albarracin recommends that anyone interested in technology should learn about artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Artificial intelligence has rapidly advanced across many industries. It has become a tool that personalizes customer experiences across the retail industry, helps diagnose patients in the medical industry, and revolutionizes travel and safety in the transportation industries.
There is greater demand for jobs that specialize in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning.
Changing Dynamics in Client Relationships
With her ample experience in the field, Albarracin offers several tidbits of advice to maintain good client relationships.
Regarding client management, Albarracin suggests that developers listen to their clients before flipping the script and offering consultative advice. Both sides have their perspective on developing the product, so having the right perspective prevents potential disconnect.
Once a developer is working on a project, she recommends laying clear expectations for communication early on. Setting hours of availability and limitations to how often they can communicate can change the dynamic of client relationships so that developers can work efficiently.
Albarracin’s advice doesn’t only apply to beginners. During the Fireside Chat, Albarracin mentioned that people with leadership positions should also pay attention to cultivating an environment that supports everyone, particularly women.
Albarracin said there have been instances where her roles or ideas were dismissed, but she didn’t let that deter her. Instead, she created her network and built her company, allowing her to get to where she is today—a place where people came to her and offered opportunities.
“Whenever I work with other parties, I use that privilege to push on things that don’t feel right. But I understand that not everyone can do it. That’s why it’s important if you do have such privilege, pave for the others in the world, try to build the networks, be the mentor, bring others up with you, and that really changes the game,” said Albarracin.
Sophia Acevedo is a journalist based in Southern California. She is a 2020 graduate from California State University, Fullerton, and a proud Daily Titan alum.