Software Engineer and Developer Evangelist,Clarifai– New York
Working with image recognition software and hanging out at hackathons are just some of the awesome things that Cassidy Williams gets to do through her job at Clarifai. She started learning about programming in the eighth grade and hasn’t slowed down since. From there she went on to graduate from Iowa State University with a Computer Science degree, completed five internships in four years, and even visited the White House. Keep reading to see what advice and insights Cassidy had to share with Evolvher.
How To Learn About Engineering:
“It’s a lot of exploring things and making things. What’s cool about engineering is that it's a combination of creativity and math so both sides of the brain get to work. To girls who might be reading this or who might be curious about things it’s honestly just a matter of looking stuff up and trying it. That’s pretty much all I did for the first three years that I was interested in tech because I had no idea where to go and I had nobody that I could really talk to about it. So it was just a matter of saying, “Okay, what if I want to make graphics for my website? What if I want to code it from scratch? What if I want it to have a cool template? What if I want it to make” and then learning how to do it. Be curious and don’t limit yourself.”
On Engineering Job Opportunities:
“There are so many things you can do with it, because every single field needs tech. I know so many people who have software engineering degrees who went on to be patent lawyers because they know the software side and wanted to do law. I know others who went straight into the hardware side and built circuits that help kids learn how to understand electronics and code. In fashion you can not only make smart clothes - which I have a few friends who do that - but you can also work at fashion companies building their websites or their apps. There are so many different options for anybody who is interested in tech. You just have to explore your options.”
How to Find A Mentor:
“One of them I met at a hackathon, the other I met at an event at the White House, and my third mentor I met at an internship. I honestly just got their business cards and emailed them right away. I think one of the biggest things in networking is to follow up with people and say, “It was nice meeting you, let’s keep in touch”. And then I reached out to them a month later asking them how they were doing and not asking for anything. My mentors and I started keeping in contact a little bit more and more till eventually we now see each other fairly regularly. Whenever I have some life decision that I have to make I can consult them. There is one here in New York, one in Seattle, and one in San Francisco. I emailed them when I was choosing my job here, when I was trying to figure out how I should ask for a raise at my old job, and other questions. So to find a mentor - to sum up - just follow up. Go to any events that you can, get as many contact information pieces as you can, and follow up with them.”
Tips For Getting An Internship:
“First of all put together a resume and a cover letter that really sells your skills well. Once you have a resume and a cover letter that you want to give, it’s all about finding those people that you want to give it to. Because applying online is great and you can probably get something applying online but if you can talk to a person, if you can network your way into a job that will help you so much because you kind of have an “in” with that company. Even if it’s just going to your career center at your college, a career fair, or a conference that your school might pay for. Network as much as you can and leverage the relationships to help you and then eventually you might be able to help them too.”
On Which Groups To Join:
“Check out NCWIT, the National Center for Women In IT. They have a network of thousands of high school girls learning how to code and all the way up to people around my age. They also have an award called the Aspirations Award and it’s for any girls who aspire to be in tech or in STEM. I won that back in 2010 when it was super small - like 20 girls in a room - and now it’s literally thousands of girls winning this award every single year. The Anita Borg Institute, they run the big Grace Hopper conference for women in computing and they just have all kinds of resources. There is a mailing list called “Systers,” that you can join and ask any questions you want.”
You can learn more about the work that Clarifai does byclicking here.
Photos by Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.