Women in Tech: Cassidy Williams
Hello, Awesome 👋,
Thanks for taking out time to read this interview. This series is all about talking to the awesome women in tech, understanding the current health of the tech industry and inspiring other women to become better.
Today, we'll be interviewing Cassidy Williams 👩💻 .
Cassidy is an instructor and developer with React Training. She's worked for CodePen, Amazon, L4 Digital, Clarifai, and Venmo, and she's had the honor of working with various organizations, including cKeys and Hacker Fund as their Director of Outreach. She's active in the developer community and one of Glamour Magazine's 35 Women Under 35 Changing the Tech Industry and LinkedIn's Top Professionals 35 & Under.
I interview leading women developer every week and showcase their history, opinions and advice on the tech. In case you missed our previous interviews, check out the " She Inspires " series on Hashnode.
Also, if you find this interview useful, please don't forget to share with your friends and colleagues. 😃
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?
Cassidy: I started early! I was walking home from school when I was 13 and heard a neighbor say, "check out my website," and I didn't realize that people (not just companies) could have their own websites. I started looking things up and teaching myself how to code then and there!
If there’s a bias women face, why do you think it is still there, in the 21st century? What are some things people and organizations could do to change this?
Cassidy: There is no if, there is a bias. It's both a remnant of old ideas and the people who hold them, and new people being taught them. People and organizations have to actively unlearn those bad biases, and educate themselves where they can.
You so much love mechanical keyboards, why and how did you start building them?
Cassidy: I love building and customizing things in general. It started with me just wanting to make a cool keyboard for my desk, but from there when I moved to Seattle I found a really awesome, passionate community that I love being a part of now.
You are popularly known on Twitter for your funny developer meme videos, what inspired this and when did you start it?
Cassidy: I started it this past summer in 2019, mostly just because I thought it'd be funny for myself, and turns out others like it too!
You work as a Software Engineer at CodePen, when did you join and what has been your experience so far?
Cassidy: I'm actually newly at React Training now as an instructor and developer. I love teaching alongside coding, and I'm really excited for this job moving forward.
In 2014, you were featured on the 35 Women Under 35 Who Are Changing the Tech Industry, how did you feel and what impact has this had on your career so far?
Cassidy: It kicked off a great period of networking for me. Getting to know people in the tech community is essential as you move around between jobs, and the opportunity to be in that magazine opened a lot of doors for me to speak with new people.
You love teaching and helping people become better Cassidy, why?
Cassidy: I love seeing people get excited about learning, and having those "ah ha" moments as they grasp new things and run with them. When others are learning well, they're encouraged to help others learn too. Fostering that kind of community is a great environment to be in, and I want tech to be like that.
What advice do you have for a developer who wants to get started with building mechanical keyboards?
Cassidy: r/MechanicalKeyboards is your friend!
During your college days, you achieved a lot, winning hackathons, interning at Microsoft and racking up job offers. How did you do all these alongside thriving in academic?
Cassidy: Honestly, a strict schedule kept me going, but looking back I probably could have done a couple fewer extracurriculars and slept more!
What advice do you have for college students who are learning how to code or working already?
Cassidy: Make sure you learn the ideas behind the code more than the languages themselves. Those ideas are helpful across any job you might have in the future!
We see that you speak and teach at software conferences all over the world, how did you get into public speaking and how has it affected your career?
Cassidy: It was something I started doing when I got into leadership for my computer science club in college, and I told all of the companies I applied to that I wanted to speak more and do more than code at work. It's made for great speaking and working opportunities, and I am glad I've done it!
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to speaking at meetups and/ or conferences?
Cassidy: Write up a few talks and submit them to several events at once! It's a numbers game, chances are you'll get accepted somewhere, and it snowballs from there.
You create online courses on Udemy and Skillshare, what has been your experience with creating online courses?
Cassidy: Making classes is very time-consuming! But, I really like being able to teach people things (even if it's somewhat passively after launching the courses).
Imposter syndrome is one problem developers face especially newbies, what is your experience with imposter syndrome, how did you manage yours and what advice do you have for anyone facing this currently?
Cassidy: I think impostor syndrome is better defined as "impostor experiences", where almost everyone experiences something that makes you feel like an impostor at times, like you don't belong in the job or role or club etc that you're in. I think it's important to remind yourself that you are in a particular position for a reason (someone hired you, you worked for it, someone saw promise in you, or even just because you got a lucky chance), and that you have to push past insecurities and get the work done.
Rejection emails is another thing that motivates imposter syndrome and depression amongst developers especially intermediates. How did you manage this effectively during your "job-hunting" days?
Cassidy: In my job hunting days I applied to so many companies that it was just a numbers game. I knew I'd not get accepted to every job I applied for, so I applied for dozens to make sure I'd have options after applying all over the place.
You write a lot Cassidy, what is your super power and what advice do you have for a newbie who wants to get started with technical writing?
Cassidy: Be concise!
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like CodePen or Facebook?
Cassidy: Understand why things work the way they do, not just how! Read source code for your favorite libraries, help others learn (so you can learn by teaching), and apply everywhere
What is the best advice someone has given you that has helped you in your career?
Cassidy: Lift as you climb! You should be helping others get to where you are today, and pay forward opportunities and mentorship. If everyone did that, the tech community would be a much more inclusive space.
What are your favorite programming tools?
Cassidy: The CLI, vim, and VSCode!
Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Cassidy: Work hard and don't get discouraged when it feels like you're alone, because you're not! Find a community that will support you, and where you can help and give back.
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You can follow Cassidy Williams on Twitter
See you next time and keep trailblazing 👋.