MY EXTENDED REALITY career was formed at the intersection of hard work and happenstance. As with many of my colleagues, my interest in extended reality, or XR, came out of nowhere. It happens one random day when someone is introduced to the tech for the first time, and the next day, they're obsessed. This is my story: one day in 2013, I was introduced to the Oculus DK1 virtual reality headset (at the moment, the most successful Kickstarter of all time) by my coworker Peter, and I was instantly hooked. There weren't many resources to learn about extended reality for people like me—non-developers—other than academic journals and Reddit, polar opposites. So, with the encouragement of that same coworker, I began to read everything I could get my hands on.

This went on for months. I even got the opportunity to interview at Oculus, which took course over several months in 2014, right on the heels of their acquisition by Facebook. I can honestly say (now) that I am grateful that didn't happen. That was probably the best “no” I've ever gotten in my life because it made me want to prove them wrong. There was a place for me in the industry, and I was going to prove it. And nearly a decade later, I am confident to say I did.

Before any inkling of a company was formed, I needed to network in my local area of Atlanta, Georgia. That same coworker and I decided to start a meetup group, and it had an unexpected organic growth that proved to me that my city was ready to accept ...

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