4 Questions 4…

Spring is almost here…

Many of you are thinking about summer internships while some of you are about to make the big transition from student to full time employee. Our March newsletter will feature insight and advice from tech professionals who have navigated these transitions and have a lot to offer students at the beginning of their career journey.

What advice would you give your 19 year old self?

Kesha Williams: The one piece of advice that I would give to my 19-year-old self is that when it stops being fun, get out! When you’re working hard on a job and find yourself stressed out every day, it is time for you to leave. Life is too short for you to be stuck in a role that you are not passionate about and don’t enjoy. Now, in order to have job mobility, you must keep your skills current with what’s in demand on the job market. Do not let yourself become stuck in a position or at a company because no one else wants to hire you because your skills are outdated.

Tell us about your biggest failure. How did you overcome?

KW: My biggest failure occurred early in my career as a software engineer. I failed to realize that success is a team effort and that no one can (or is expected to) do it all alone. When first starting out, I felt that I needed to figure out everything by myself and was often afraid to ask for help for fear of looking stupid. I was a young woman, in a male-dominated field, and often felt like I was under a microscope because I was different. I felt the need to prove myself by being smart enough to figure things out on my own. I think it is good to be able to figure things out on your own, but you have to also use good judgement to determine when you need to raise your hand and ask for help. Because I didn’t ask for help when I truly needed it, I caused the project to miss a critical deadline that delayed us for months. I learned two lessons during that difficult time period. First, when working on a team, the team is working toward a common goal and every person on that team wants the team to succeed. People are willing to help you when they know you need it. Second, it’s okay to ask questions when something is not clear or to ask for help when you need it. I’m smart, but no one can know everything! That failure taught me to collaborate with others more and to lean on team members that have been around longer and that know more than I do. I used that failure as a lesson learned and because I learned from it, I never repeated it again. Failures can turn into valuable lessons, if we choose to learn from them!

What’s next for you? What are you excited about?

KW: As a software engineer, I am always learning the latest technology and playing with new gadgets, which I find very exciting and fun. My next stage of life still includes software engineering but also introduces mentoring, volunteerism, and giving back to the younger generation. I am passionate about solving the STEM shortage by introducing people (especially young girls) to technology early on. Lately, I’ve volunteered with several organizations/projects that share my same passion: Black Girls Code, Usher’s New Look Foundation, Technovation, MentorNet, Junior Achievement, Code.org, and Colors of STEM. I am excited to be able to use my roles of software engineer and mentor to influence the younger generation to consider a career in software engineering.

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Code2040

Activating, connecting, and mobilizing the largest racial equity community in tech.