July 17, 2020

#1: Disheka Moore - Student Founder of EyeDriven and 2X Software Engineering Intern at Microsoft


Disheka Moore is a scholar, entrepreneur, and software engineer. She is currently a 2X Microsoft intern and founder of EyeDriven: a company that wants to protect your eyes from blue light while also making you look fashionable.

In this episode she shares how she got started in Computer Science, her Microsoft internship offers, and why she founded EyeDriven during quarantine. 

Key Points

  • [01:04] How Disheka Got Started In Computer Science
  • [04:53] How Disheka Got an Internship at Micorosft
  • [08:17] Microsoft Explore Internship Experience
  • [09:39] Why She Wanted to Return to Microsoft for Another Internship
  • [11:49] How Do You Know When Things Won't Work Out With a Company?
  • [15:10] The Founding of EyeDriven
  • [18:38] How She Uses Time Management Skills to Juggle So Many Responsibilities
  • [20:36] Future Plans for EyeDriven
  • [22:26] What Drives Her to Work Towards Her Goals Continously 
  • [25:53] Advice for People Looking to Get Into Tech or Business

Resources Mentioned

Transcript

Note:Black Enterprise Network transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human transcription. They may contain errors, although we do our best to avoid them. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting a transcript in print. Questions? Errors found in a transcript? Email us! 

Kimmiko James  [0:00]  
A small percentage of black people are currently represented in the tech industry and entrepreneurial spaces. This includes engineers, startup founders, investors, especially those that hold leadership roles. I want to share their stories. Welcome to the black enterprise network podcast. My name is Kimmiko and in this episode, I'm gonna be talking with Disheka Moore.

Disheka Moore  [0:24]  
I am a first generation senior computer science major attending Spelman College from Racine, Wisconsin.

Kimmiko James  [0:31] 
Sheka is a scholar, software engineer and entrepreneur. She's a first generation CS major and dedicates a lot of her time to improve herself. Whether it's participating in various coding projects such as hackathons, or serving her community, or even participating in organizations such as management leadership for tomorrow, an opportunity. She's currently a two times Microsoft intern and founder of EyeDriven, a company that wants to not only protect your eyes from blue light, but also wants to make you look fashionable. And with that, let's get into the episode. Tell me a bit about a little bit about your origin story and how it led where you are today in terms of like having these cool software engineering internships and you know, starting your own thing on the side just like we're what started that exactly.

Disheka Moore  [1:15]  
I didn't really initially get into tech in high school, I didn't know anything about it, let alone knowing anything about engineering. Um, but when I entered campus, I actually got admitted into some colleges on undecided initially, um, when Spelman College had launched their major fair that they call it, to get students exposed to different majors on campus, I was exposed to a table that was decorated with different tech companies, you know, like Google, Microsoft. And of course, I was drawn to see what that table was about, kind of find out it was a computer science major table and the director basically convinced me that by my thought that by the end of freshman year by sophomore year, I would have a great internship, making, you know, a lot of money and at that time, I was more worried about how I was going to financially be able to afford to go to Spelman considering my financial situation, not having all my funds together the way I wanted it to. So when I declared my major I'm not only did I of course, want to enjoy it and make my make make great money out of it. But I also grew to love what I'm what I'm doing now. So when I declared my major I was also I'm into music as well. So I was in a jazz band for five years playing the trumpet. And then I also competed in opera shows. So I was I focused on classical and Opera music in high school and I'm at Spelman College, I was able to join a Glee Club in Glee Club in computer science classes were taking up a lot of my time. So my computer science major noticed how well I was doing in this class and asked me to choose between one or the other. So I decided to choose computer science because I knew that I can always think in the shower, or something of that sort, you know, and, um, somehow just go back to singing whenever I have time. So when I declared that major, I received the scholarship, which was was exactly what I needed on to get through my first year of school. And ever since then, I think the rest was history. Um, for me, as far as my journey just getting to Spelman and being able to declare that major.

Kimmiko James  [3:28]  
Okay, so I kind of want to touch up on a little bit. So for a lot of engineering students, they kind of say the similar thing of, it's probably the wiser choice to continue stem rather than doing something that could be done as a side hobby. Like, have you been able to maintain singing? Or would you want to get back into music if time permits, because I know it's really hard to commit to both, but I I personally believe in, you know, doing a hobby as well, if you can make the time for it, not just totally dropping it.

Disheka Moore  [3:59]  
Right. So yeah, so basically, I recently just did an audition for American Idol. I submitted my video for that. And then I also competed in the voice on while I was oh my god. Yeah, I competed in the voice before I got to school. But it was like my senior year, um, and I competed for the voice and I had audition in person for that one. And then at my internship, I guess we'll be talking more about that. But I did, I did get the chance to sing for their talent show competition, I got the chance to meet LMA backstage and was noticed by a lot of Microsoft recruiters on that opportunity. So yeah, I'm right now. Yeah, I'm definitely you know, working on implementing music and to in parallel to my engineering career.

Kimmiko James  [4:46]  
Okay, I'm just glad to hear you didn't totally just like drop it. So that's, that's, that's amazing. Could you tell me a little bit about your your internship and how you got that opportunity because we we both know a and a lot of people No, it's it's definitely not easy to get a software engineering job, let alone an internship. So could you tell me a bit about how you got that opportunity and how your how what work looks like now.

Disheka Moore  [5:12]  
So I got my opportunity at Microsoft because as a as a freshman, I declare my major I was assigned to they call a pal, who's like an upperclassman, and that upperclassman was a computer science major, her name is Briana July, a lot of people know her, she met Michelle Obama and a lot of great people. And she's became a very prominent figure in the engine engineering industry. Um, I did when I declare my major, I had to, I feel like I had to jump straight in I thought that was a first generation student, I, I thought that it was my job to be able to have to catch up. I don't know how much the next person knew. But I knew that I had to work really hard, because of how far back I felt I was because I declared my major so late, like in my academic career. Um, so I my journey to Microsoft was that I participated in a program called Oh, hub, opportunity hub HBCUs on by Southwest in Texas, my freshman year. And Brianna, July was there prior the year prior, and she shared this opportunity with me. And when I attended, um, it was too early for me to apply, or not sorry, not too early, but too late for my freshman year to apply for the Explorer program. But they told me that I can apply again the following summer or the following fall. So when I met when I, when I attended opportunity have HBCUs on by Southwest and Texas, I met a lot of I met a couple of Microsoft recruiters such as Brian spins and Kemal swaby. And they told me keep in touch. So given that I was keeping in touch with them, and I attended different on campus visits that they came out to, after that event and some office hours with opportunity hub that they were hosting. I managed to get an interview on in September of 2018. And then heard back from them. November 2018.

Kimmiko James  [7:06]  
Wow, that's that's really fast for Microsoft, because they still haven't gone back to me from like, about two years ago,

Disheka Moore  [7:13]  
some people found out like, it was so weird, because some people who did get their offer interviewed after me, but somehow found out before me, but I'm sorry. Yeah, they found out before me, but then there was some students who found out who did interview before me, but then got declined before me. So it was just it was a pattern for how they selected me. But I feel like finding out in November versus interviewing in September, or August, for like, a long time to me. Okay,

Kimmiko James  [7:43]  
that's also fair. Yeah, I feel like your stories. Um, that's just solid advice, even though you didn't exactly make it advice of just, you can't just blindly apply to an internship, like you actually have to consistently talk to these people that are hiring and go to their workshops and stuff.

Disheka Moore  [7:59]  
It definitely wasn't handed to me, I think putting in that work and networking and like keeping that relationship with them is going to help you get in the door, I always recommend every student to find a recruiter, even if it's not signed to you, they will find someone and they will always somebody know someone to help you keep in touch with to get in the door.

Kimmiko James  [8:17]  
So you've got your offer for the Explorer program. What What was that experience? Like? Because I believe it's, um, it's a mix of software engineering and project management.

Disheka Moore  [8:28]  
Yes. So I was assigned to a group of three people, I was one of one out of the three, and I was an explorer. In turn, I was giving the chance to either do engineering first or project management second, or vice versa. So I was given the chance to do project product management for my first six weeks. And then I did engineering my last six weeks. And I was working in correlation with two other peers side by side on a project that was already basically like in the works, but it was still fairly new to the point where even everyone in the team didn't have a great glimpse of what it would look like. So we came in at just a bit like just at the right time. So as a product manager, I basically had to scope I had to work with a UX designer to scope out what this feature was going to look like. And I worked with the engineers to make sure that like a lot of the templates that we were using, or like a lot of the front end where they were using was basically making sense with their product as a whole. So making sure your UI looks good. Um, and the last six weeks was implementing what we designed.

Kimmiko James  [9:39]  
Yes, I wanted to know what influenced your decision to want to come back again, because it's, you know, a lot, it's not always the easiest choice to want to come back to the same company. Sometimes you want to go to I mean, I don't know if there's anything bigger than Microsoft, but maybe maybe you want to go to Google or something or Apple or maybe you wanted to maybe go to a startup but what influence your decision to want to go back to Microsoft, like, was it diversity? Was it the environment? Or was it just you enjoy doing work at Microsoft.

Disheka Moore  [10:10]  
And so basically, what made me go back to Microsoft is it wasn't easy, because I actually had my goal of getting my return offer, and had intention on interviewing for other companies I interviewed for other companies such as like Uber, Lyft. And like a lot of other startups and Facebook, like I was interviewing for other companies, because I wanted to see what I could have been missing out of. And evidently, I wasn't missing out on much. Because even though like places like Lyft, and Uber may have been paying more, I even applied for Citibank, like I applied apply for a bank type of role, a banking company. So I was just trying to open up my horizons so that I can give myself a reason to reflect and think back on what it would be like if I did take on a different opportunity. And at the very, very end, which was my last, like, my last interview that I like, did before accepting my offer at Microsoft was lift. And it just didn't feel right. I just think the support that you get from your company, the benefits, not even the pay, but it's the benefits the culture and just the intention that Microsoft has behind bringing in people of diversity, I think they're doing a great job right now trying to implement find this finding solutions to make us feel wanted and make us feel not wanting but needed and make us feel like an asset to their company. And I think it all boiled down to me going out of my way to find other ways to give myself a reason to come back. And I think it was meant for me to come back because of how all my interviews played out.

Kimmiko James  [11:48]  
I kind of wanted to jump back to that point, you kind of mentioned of knowing when something doesn't feel right with a certain company. Could you speak to that a little bit? How do you know when it just doesn't feel right? First? Yeah. Feeling Right.

Disheka Moore  [12:03]  
Right. So it was a company that I interviewed with that basically had an interviewer who intentionally gave me a hard question. At the end of that interview, they told me that this question was meant for new hire, like new hire, like new hires. And they said that at the end, because I think they knew that and they knew how hard it was for me to answer it. And so with those spitting that out, I think it was a mistake on his end. But because I reported them, because I told my recruiter what that person said, that recruiter, that recruiter disqualified him as an interviewer. And they said that, like his even his feedback didn't add up. So that was to me my advantage of speaking up and speaking out against that company's culture and the way that they're doing things to bring interest. And like I said, as an intern, you only know so much. And as even as engineers in college, like they only exposure so much information. So even if you are practicing your interviewing skills, and your coding skills outside of schoolwork, there should be no reason why you should be challenged, overly challenged to the point where you they know you haven't been exposed to that material, you know, or not enough at least. So that was another that was a situation where I felt that that culture at that company didn't give me the chance to prove that I was worthy for that role.

Kimmiko James  [13:24]  
Well, props to you for standing up to that person actually reporting it, because I'm sure a good chunk of us, at least for myself, I don't think I would even report it, I would just automatically assume, oh, they probably give everybody these questions, right? It's not just me. So props to you for just knowing that that was wrong, and doing something about it.

Disheka Moore  [13:43]  
And it was another one where I'm I was asking questions about how that person felt in their company. It was another company that into and when I was asking them questions about like, the culture and how he felt he, like, how did he feel working at that company? As an engineer, his question was so bad, and it was just not I can just tell that he was just there to work and he wasn't there to basically bring about change or just being like, what like, why interview or why even volunteer to interview for, for students or for you know, people to come in to be an intern, if you don't even have the intention to even like, be active in what you're doing. I don't think just volunteering, interview other people is enough. I think you need to be just as active in your role on and being inviting in your role. Um, if you want to interview other candidates,

Kimmiko James  [14:37]  
those are those are pretty good points. And for anybody listening, definitely take that into mind when you're interviewing with other engineers or HR recruiting people. Just because you're desperate for an internship or a job doesn't mean that you should take it based on I guess how these people are treating you. I don't know if I worded that correctly. But whether you get the job offer or not. If you do get it you're going to be working with these people. And if they've treated you horribly, one time only imagine what that's like being a full timer. So just take that into consideration when you're interviewing. And I'd like to jump into AI driven because that's something I've seen you promoting on your Instagram and now recently Twitter. And it seems like it's doing pretty great. So I kind of wanted to know what, what influenced you to want to start that during quarantine?

Disheka Moore  [15:26]  
Yes. So it's so funny that you said during quarantine because I actually lost my company, like two weeks before Coronavirus? Oh, yeah, like it was right, right there. Like I wouldn't have probably even did if I knew this was gonna happen. But I'm happy that it happened. We did. So I. So this past semester, I did the Google tech exchange program in Silicon Valley. And I was exposed to a lot of various classes or courses such as human computer interaction, software engineering, database management, systems, machine learning, and so much more. And one class that stood out to me was human computer interaction. And that class basically helped me understand the end user, and how to create products that serves the user. I think, overall, we as human beings, we think we think that we know what people want, but we really don't until you start surveying them. And so you start asking what their true needs are. And I think what's important that I took away from that course, and I said it in the beginning of the class, when they asked us to introduce ourselves, my goal, I told him, I said, My goal was to walk away, being able to start a company based on the information that I learned in this class, like, I didn't even know what company but I said, I want to start a company. And I'm happy that it came into fruition. And I think manifestation speaking things into existence and soil is so important. When you're talking about what you want to do in your life. Even if you don't know always have a mindset that is going to make make it come into fruition. That makes sense. So I really came about because one day I had a had a migraine, and it lasted like eight hours straight and one of my roommates by the name of Baluchi, she was there to witness how bad it affected me I had, I had to basically like, tell her to like leave out the room for a couple of hours, I had to cut off the blinds, I had to do a lot of things that was very sensitive to my eyes to protect, like my eyes from becoming strained. And one of the reasons why my migraines came about is because I was, of course on my screen a lot. And I had a major headache from class. And I went to see my eye doctor who said that my eyes were getting worse because of that. And he asked me like, what, what do I do, and I said, I'm a software engineer. And he said, That explains it. So he was just like, you need to figure out a way to cloud reduce that, you know, reduce your activity or figure out a way to work around it. So I did my own research. And I found out about blue blocking glasses. And blue blocking glasses have always been a thing. But it wasn't marketed to the right people. And I feel like my competitors will, I would like to, I wouldn't call them my competitors. But that's what they are, in a sense, like people in the same niche as me. Um, we're not targeting like minority or black people or people that look like me. So I wanted to create my own platform. And because I'm so passionate about fashion eyewear, and just looking good overall, and having some frames that fit my style was very important to me. And I think I wanted to share that with other people. And that's basically how I basically like, came up with that idea to just launch my own company and with an existing product that just needed a better platform.

Kimmiko James  [18:38]  
And bouncing off of that actually. So you're you're a student, and as a student, you know, homework keeps you busy for maybe it's literally kind of like a full time job except you there's no pay except for payment and education and knowledge and etc. So how do you just make the time to work on your homework to work on this company while also working on your internship because that is also a big thing that's been taking up some time too.

Disheka Moore  [19:09]  
Yeah, so juggling a company or internship and the business is definitely something that I didn't prepare for Initially, I think that it's all about balance. Sometimes I may not, I may tell myself to plan out content for a week so that when I do work on my schoolwork or if I do work on my internship, I have content that is ready to go on emphasizing like the fact that preparation is key, like even if you don't even know because I know my business. I know I may not always know I'm gonna post that day, but I feel like being consistent and be like, if you want it bad enough, you're gonna do what it takes, like if you even if you have to wake up early in the morning and go to sleep or go to bed late. I only need like five to six hours of sleep to be fully functional. Um, so I feel like if you go to bed at a decent hour, wake up early enough to be able to accomplish your goals, issue or issue work, you know, like, and then like, I feel like prioritizing nor was due like if so if my homework assignments due tonight I have everything set aside no matter how bad I want to touch on every, you know, touch on things. So knowing what's necessary in knowing and having these deadlines in place so that you know, what's more important is what I feel like I do to balance. And

Kimmiko James  [20:27]  
to continue with I driven I wanted to know, what are your? And I know, you probably might have an answer now. But I guess it's nice to think ahead. I guess what would your future plans be for this company? I guess? Would you want to expand to selling more products? Would you maybe want to be bought out by another eyewear company? Or I'm just not, I guess I kind of want to know what your future plans would be.

Disheka Moore  [20:57]  
Yeah, so my future plans is to be invested in I want to, of course, compete and hopefully become funded, I want to be able to enter that space of being funded more in the future and collaborating with big names. So one person I had to have in mind that I would love to collaborate with Kiki is Kiki Palmer, um, she actually has like, reached back out to my Instagram once before, but I'm taking it really slow right now I'm just I just want to manage. Okay, oh, you know, I'm getting I got a couple people attention, but I just want to make that relationship that I deal with, like bigger names organic. So if one day she like, you know, here's my item, and that's one person I want to collaborate with. Um, and in the future, I would love to like are brought into prescription teacher but a just expanding across the board. Like with IKEA, like, I want to bring in contact lenses color contact, because I know like people, like I'm not just trying to cater to the needs of like I wellness, I also want to bring in the fashion aspect too. Because like me, why not, I noticed that when I launched a sunglass collection, people were not only geared to bind those friends, but they also wanted the buy button friends to go with their sunglasses. So like being able to pair products and make sense of walk stand alone, my company's mission, still branch it out to the fashion world is something that I want to have bring flexibility towards my company.

Kimmiko James  [22:24]  
And I think to kind of just wrap it all up together, up everything you just touched upon. Again, going back in time to what you said, of like, just feeling like you have to work harder than than most people and just put in 10 times as much work because I feel the same way personally influenced you to become self driven enough to accomplish all these goals and achievements. Because it's not easy to keep up the momentum of having to work as hard as your your peers that might be more privileged than you. Or guess what influenced you to just continue the drive?

Disheka Moore  [23:00]  
Yeah, so people have asked me like your engineer, like, why do you even want to touch? Like, why do you even want to sell products? Why do you even want to get into business if you're like on track to making six figures from your engineering career, but I feel like no matter what I feel like you should not be caught up into one thing, you should always have multiple sources of income. Because my incomes I'm guessing my company could be for something that I'm saving up for in the near future. It could be for like, whatever legacy I'm gonna leave behind for my family. But my engineering career, how I look at it is funding what I want to do like in my personal my life. So how I look at it is this, you can be an engineer, and you can be an entrepreneur at the same time. Let your engineering career fund whatever endeavors you want to pursue, because that's exactly what it's here for. Like, because engineering can engineering, the engineering life has brought us so much flexibility to the point that you'll be kind of like, not stupid, but you will be quite ignorant if you didn't take advantage of all the things you can accomplish with the financial gain that you get from being an engineer, you know, so, okay, so what influenced me is when you are, I don't even know if it's because I'm a fresher ish constantly. But I will say is when you're independent, when you don't have support financial support from people that at this age will normally receive it from not to knock anybody that I have closest to me. But I'm saying because I don't receive the help that a lot of many other people do. I have to grind 10 times as hard because if I don't, I will lose everything that I have because I have bills, I have so many financial goals that I want to reach I I like I have a lot of things to take care of. And I'm also taking care of family members too. So the fact that I'm taking care of myself and other people, that enough gives me enough motivation to keep moving forward because nobody is calling me up right now. You know, and when you think about that it clicks, like, even I don't have any children right now I just feel like, if you are a parent, if you are a new parent, right, and you find that you're having a child, that's, that should push you to like, not want to lose, you know, lose everything you have, that should push you to keep pushing, like to keep going. But in my case, my baby is my full demit career, my business and the help that I'm able to give to others, you know, so that is so drives me to want to, like, keep pushing and keep driving, because if I don't, then I feel like I'm not doing myself enough like, justice, if that makes sense.

Kimmiko James  [25:38]  
That makes 100% sense. And if I knew how to snap my fingers, I would, but I Very well said, and I think to finish this it's kind of an interview, I guess. I guess what advice could you share with other students looking to get into the tech industry or advice for those looking to start a business but they're not really sure how?

Disheka Moore  [26:03]  
Yeah, so the advice that I have is if something if the universe or God, whoever, your higher power, whoever, whatever you believe in, okay? If they send you a an idea, because sometimes when we sit down and we're reading a book or watching TV, it ideas bound to hit your conscious, you know, so have an idea, hit your conscious act upon it, write it down. Um, don't doubt yourself. Because when I did, I didn't came to my mind, I'm telling you, I doubted myself all the time. I didn't buy some glasses from lighting go to, like, go Amazon, like, I think the oddest ways to get it, talk myself out of something, but never doubt whatever thought it comes to your mind. or something, always be open to opportunities be open to receiving, you know, whatever that is meant for you. Because the same the same way that you can receive an idea is the same way that that idea can be somebody else if you don't act upon it. And I believe in that. So in addition to that, I know you didn't ask me much about like, what I would like to do well, I know you did say what's next graduation or whatever. But what's next for me as a business woman is to help other business women get get up and started to I'm launching a new product that is supposed to help you get set up to launch your business. As far as I know, like I said, I've only reason why I'm choosing to do this is because I have the receipts I have, you know income tobacco why so like this work for other people. So my goal is to launch a product that is supposed to help you start your own business and is going to give you like a step by step process into what you need as far as getting your LLC in, you know, getting your store set up and how to market to people. Um, that is all going to be included in my book. And I'm also going to include a free checklist so I basically just said it's I'm watching the ebook, that's basically was to help you get set up overall because I've been getting a lot of those same questions and instead of just giving everybody the same answer, might why not just make it into like a, you know, one book and you know, give it out to people.

Kimmiko James  [28:19]  
So what social media platforms can people follow you on to keep up with that if they'd like and also AI driven and just you in general?

Disheka Moore  [28:28]  
Yes. So you can reach my personal Instagram at more intellect and you can reach my business Instagram I driven You can also find me on Twitter at she got him as he say, Hmm, or you can find me or find me on Twitter as well.

Kimmiko James  [28:45]  
Thank you for listening and I can't wait for you to join me in the next episode.

Disheka Moore

Disheka Moore is a scholar, entrepreneur, and software engineer. She is a first-generation graduating Senior Computer Science Major at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Disheka is interested in pursuing a career in the tech field in specifically Software Engineering or Product/Program Management. She has dedicated a significant amount of her academic career polishing and improving her skills by participating in various internships with companies such as Microsoft, Google & U.S. Bank.

Disheka is passionate about serving her community and leading in organizations such as CODEHOUSE, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). She takes pride in being a self-driven individual who seeks to not only go above and beyond in what she does but to make an impact on those around her.