Nov. 19, 2020

#10: Lance Davis - Software Engineering and Product Management Intern at Apple

My guest for this episode is Lance Davis, a computer engineering student at North Carolina A&T State University. Lance has interned at Apple, both as a software engineer and product manager. He will be joining Microsoft next year as a program manager intern.

In this episode, Lance shares how he got into tech, earned those opportunities as well as why it is important to be goal oriented for the things you are trying to achieve.

Show Notes

Introduction [0:00]

What Got Him Interested in the World of Tech and Computer Science [03:29]

What Keeps Him Going and Motivated [05:29]

How He Went About Finding His Communities [07:20]

How He Found Mentors and Fraternities [10:05]

His Time and Experience as an Intern at Apple [12:56]

Differences Between Being a Software Engineering Intern and a Product Management Intern [15:15]

Why People Should Know How to Code [22:05]

His Future Plans if He Does Not Want to Pursue Project Management [24:31]

How He Found and Earned These Internship Opportunities [26:39]

His Favorite Personal Coding Projects [36:15]

His Advice for Newbies Looking to Get into Tech or Computer Science [41:22]

Key Takeaways

  • Starting early in tech and computer science can really make a difference. …
  • “Nothing stays the same in tech. It's always something new around the corner…”
  • “What can I bring to the world and the unquenchable curiosity that I have—it just keeps me going…”
  • It is really a matter having people who can guide me in the right direction and put me into the environments that they are a part of, that they knew made them successful.
  • Learn from people and have people that you can look up to. Always try to be like the people that you want to be like.
  • “When someone is a work colleague, and also a good friend, they are going to want to see me succeed as well.”
  • “Being active in those groups, just getting your name out there, having people in your field know your name and recognize your face. That goes a really long way.”
  • “Connections are everywhere, like whether it be through a podcast, or through a networking event, you can get connections, any way.”
  • “Software engineering for me, was more of an acquired skill than a passion.”
  • “The main difference between SWE and product management is the fact that product management is very hectic, and it is a whole lot of pressure…”
  • “Software engineering really isn't for anybody; you need to be made for software engineering...”
  • “I do think that eventually tech is going to move towards a space where everyone knows how to code…”
  • A software engineer should be more than just someone who just codes.
  • Everyone wants to bounce around, try different things, have different careers in the lifetime. I think that is the way that life should be lived.
  • “I see product management as kind of a steppingstone toward entrepreneurship…”
  • “Sometimes when you are given situations where you are rejected by everybody, and you almost give up hope, you just have to take a step back and say, okay, how else can I accomplish my goals? What is my end goal?”
  • It is really about putting yourself out there, and getting things done by any means necessary.
  • Technical founders are the best types of founders because they know what they are doing, rather than walking into something blind.
  • Every goal can be achieved in multiple ways. It just depends on which way you choose, and in which way you are meant to choose, really.
  • For newbies looking to get into tech and computer science, I would tell you to get on and get active on LinkedIn.
  • “I feel as though the bigger your LinkedIn network is, the more the higher the probability is for you to find something that is really good for your career…”

Where to Find Lance Davis

Linktree: @lndavis

Twitter: LD 🌹 (@lavishlance)

LinkdIn:  lancedavis47

Resources Mentioned

Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT)

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 


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  
Welcome to the black enterprise network podcast, Episode Number 10. Before I jump into the episode, I just want to take a few minutes to talk about a couple of important things. The first thing being the audio quality from the intro and outro of the last episode with Tia, and the audio quality that you're going to hear for this episode. It turns out when you're recording, you're supposed to face the logo in front of the microphone rather than behind it. And given this microphones black, I just didn't see that, I guess. So apologies if the audio isn't as crisp. But hopefully some magic mastering editing should make that a bit better. The next important thing I want to highlight is the fact that this podcast has hit 10 total episodes. It's been a journey from when I first started this in July in my bedroom to now November, actually still in my bedroom. So anyone that's been listening since Episode One, sharing episodes with friends, colleagues, or even if you've just recently started listening to the most recent episodes, I just want to say thank you for your support. The podcast has changed and a lot of ways for episode one to now. And things are only going to get better in the episodes to come and the future. If you haven't already listened to the previous episodes, then I encourage you to do so each black story and tech and entrepreneurship is unique. And there's so many lessons and advice that can be taken away from each episode. Also, be sure to support the black businesses of the guests and connect with them on LinkedIn if they have one, because a future aspiration I have for this podcast is for people to just generally build a sense of community with each other and network. I mean, that actually is the name of the podcast. After all, if you have any questions, concerns, or even feedback about the podcast and be sure to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I am Kimmiko James KI mm Iko. Last Name James on LinkedIn. So yeah, that's it for announcements. Thank you again, for listening, check out the older episodes. And let's get into this one. In the last episode, I hinted that I would be somewhat contradicting myself with what I'm talking about in this episode. And the sense that I will push and encourage people to get into tech because of the benefits that come from it. However, in this conversation I have with Lance Davis, we both agree that tech and software engineering is not for everyone. Yeah, I know. I know. It sounds like I'm backtracking. But we'll make sense once you get into the episode and hear me and Lance break it down for you. Lance has interned at Apple as both a software engineer and product manager and will be joining Microsoft next year as a program manager intern. In this episode, he shares how he got into tech earned these opportunities as well as why it's so important to be goal oriented for the things you're trying to achieve. I hope you enjoyed a small percentage of black people are currently represented in the tech industry and entrepreneurial spaces. This includes engineers, startup founders, investors, and especially those that hold leadership roles. I want to share their stories. Yeah, I kind of just wanted to get started with how you first got to technology because doing some LinkedIn stalking, as I usually do, I saw that you were a part of nesby as early as High School, which isn't very common. So yeah, well first got you interested in tech and computer science.

Lance Davis  3:29  
Yes. So it was actually my father. So my father, he saw that I was doing really well in math and science in school. And he really, really encouraged me to go into robotics. So my freshman year of high school, I was really just forced on a robotics team, I really didn't want to do it at first. I'm like, Man, this stuff is for dorks. Like, I didn't want to do it at all. But I absolutely fell in love after my freshman year of high school being a part of the robotics team. And I joined nesby, my junior year of high school. And it was it was nesby Junior. So just the high school chapter, it was a chapter near my high school. So just constantly being involved in engineering throughout my high school career, taking engineering, like pre engineering courses, a lot of math, and just doing everything, doing everything so that I could set myself up to do well in engineering in college. That's really what I wanted. So yeah, I would definitely say my dad was the reason why I started so early. And the reason why I keep going now is just one not just to make him proud, but that's a big part. Okay, okay. Yeah, I

Kimmiko James  4:41  
would say from just like talking to people on the podcast outside of the podcast, starting early really does make a difference. Because for me and other people that started college, it's like, it's so much COVID he, he just don't know what to do with it and whether to continue or not. So I like hearing that. Yeah. Now that you're actually majoring in computer engineering at MCAT. University. It's a very mouthful. We're University

Lance Davis  5:08  
here in North Carolina. State University. The long name.

Kimmiko James  5:13  
Yeah. And you have like extensive sir experience in this field, what drives you to pursue it? Or rather like, what do you really like about it? Because like I said before it, it is an intense field. And sometimes it's hard for people to keep going. But what keeps you going?

Lance Davis  5:29  
Yeah, yeah, you're right about it being intense. It's very intense. But I think that's the reason why I stay in it is because it's just so exciting. There's nothing that is, nothing stays the same in tech. It's always something new around the corner. It's always something that could be improved. And I just, I really love that. So I think the main thing is just the excitement of what the world could be. If I kept pursuing this, if I keep, you know, trying to learn new things, and trying to apply new things. What can I bring to the world and just that unquenchable curiosity that I have, it just keeps me going.

Kimmiko James  6:08  
That's probably a better answer than I give tech recruiters usually say I like building stuff. But actually, the way you talk about it is probably the best way to think about it of like, tech really is changing so rapidly. And I guess that's probably a bit of the intensity part for me of like, I just learned this tech stack in like a year, and then there's something new, as soon as I'm learning it. I guess that's the beauty of it, of like, the world is changing, and so is tech that can make it better. So I like your perspective on that.

Lance Davis  6:43  
Thank you.

Kimmiko James  6:44  
So for me personally, and for other people on the podcast I've talked to there's like always a big emphasis on community, especially if it's known as B or black product managers are different slack group checks me and you it's been like GroupMe, especially me for blackbelly group chat, because that's how I found a lot of my opportunities. I just think it's really important, given some time in this industry for black and brown people can be more than not very volatile. So how did you go about finding your communities, whether it's MLT nesby, your fraternity or anything else that you've been a part of this far?

Lance Davis  7:20  
Yeah, so I think I think the number one thing is just me trying to find mentors, and people who can vouch for me. So one thing that also really helped was me being at a historically black college, just a lot of people want to see me succeed, a lot of my peers want to see me succeed. And it's the same for them as well. But having mentors reaching out to me saying, hey, Lance, you need to be applying to this, you need to be doing this. I'm a member of Kappa Alpha Psi of attorney Incorporated. So my father was also a member. So he told me to go out because his, his whole career has been improved by being in the fraternity and he knew that the same thing would happen for me. So it's, it's really just a matter of me having people who can guide me in the right direction, and put me into the environments that they're a part of, that they knew made them successful. And they in turn, wanted to share that success with me. So I think, I think, learning from people and having people that you can look up to always being a student never stopped being a student, just always learning from people and always trying to be like, the people that you want to be like,

Kimmiko James  8:30  
outside of your fraternity. How did you find these people? Because for me, I, it's like, it's hard. Especially when you're not really familiar with the tech industry. And then you go into for the first time, it's like hard to find a mentor, someone you can really look up to, or that can relate to you. So how do you actually do that?

Lance Davis  8:51  
Yeah, so I got started in nesby. That was that was something that my father told me to do. And then when I got to college, naturally, I just went to the nesby meetings and everything and became an active member. So that was how I met a lot of people through the National Society of Black Engineers with MLT MLT has a huge presence on my campus. So one of the people on the Executive Board of nesby when I was a freshman, they had an info session about MLT. And me being an active member. I went and checked it out. And I said, Yo, this is something that I definitely want to be a part of. So my freshman year I knew I wanted to apply to MLT. Like a year before I was even eligible. And with no other group means like black Valley, it's really just, I think, making friends and having people that like you as a person outside of work, because there's there's a difference between people who you have in your network who can depend on YouTube, you know, oh, yeah, Lance, I know him. He's a great engineer, great work ethic. He's, you know, a super great, talented Product Manager. But then There's also people in your network, who would say, yeah, lads, that is a true friend of mine, he's a nice person, he's a really good person, I would, you know, I would make him my godfather is my child's godfather or something, you know, I'm saying so there's, there's a difference between having those types of relationships in your network, and then a completely work related relationship in your network. And I think having a nice healthy mixture of both helps you because when someone is a work colleague, and also a good friend, they're going to want to see me succeed as well. So they're gonna put me in the group chats with the black product managers, they're gonna put me in, you know, the, the discord groups, the slack groups, all types of things to help me get to where I need to be. And then also, just speaking up when you're in those chats, like I'm in a ton of group knees, and it's sometimes it's a little bit overwhelming to keep up with. But being active in those groups, just getting your name out there, just having people know, having people in your field know your name and recognize your face. That goes a really, really long way.

Kimmiko James  11:12  
Yeah, very well said, I can definitely attest to having both relationships, which sometimes we forget of, like, we just generalize the network. Like we just say a network is a people is a group of people that can help me get to point a from point A to point B for my career. That's that never talked to them again. Yeah, but I feel like you go beyond that. You really do have to foster some of those relationships. You don't have to talk to everybody in your network, especially if you have over 1000 LinkedIn connections, like that's possible. But to your point of just like finding people that you want to learn from and look up to, and just send a message, get to know them, and which then you're connected with someone else they might know. And then so

Lance Davis  11:56  
forth. Connection. Yeah, connections are everywhere, like whether it be through a podcast, whether it be through a networking event, you can get connections, any way. And they always work. Well, not they don't always work. But when they're naturally always work.

Kimmiko James  12:12  
exactly when they're natural. That's why I don't know, I guess as you get older, you kind of just start to actually ask for the advice instead of asking for an internship referral. But that's just me.

Lance Davis  12:23  
So yeah. So yeah,

Kimmiko James  12:26  
I just wanted to get into your your tech industry experience. So I think it's really cool. I even messaged you about what it was like to do AI machine learning as a software engineering intern, so excited to get into it. So you've interned at Apple both doing swe software engineering, and as a pm product management for Siri, and following, of course, following NDA guidance, if you're able to share just details of what a day in the life look like, as a software engineering intern, and just some of the things you worked on.

Lance Davis  12:56  
Yeah, so keeping my NDA NDA in mind, I am gonna try to be as specific and detailed as possible. So as a software engineering intern at really at any tech company, but Apple specifically, it was really relaxed, super chill. The amount of pressure on the job was almost non existent. I really felt as though I could be my own person. And I could just get things done that I wanted to get done, and have a real big say on what I wanted to do, because I had a really had a lot of power in deciding what I wanted to work on, even as an intern. And one thing that I noticed that a lot of my co workers, they had a lot of power on what they wanted to work on as well. So Apple isn't one of those companies where they just give things to people and say, Hey, do this apple tries to find people's talents, and they try to find their the best of their abilities, and cater projects toward those abilities, rather than giving somebody some arbitrary like, just project, you know. So that's one thing that I really liked about Apple. That's one thing that I really appreciated about Apple, I will say that software engineering for me, was more of an acquired skill within a passion. And when I say that, I mean, me being a software engineer, I do love to code, but I love to code, kind of like in the same way that I love to cook. I love to cook because I really like good food. I don't like the process of cooking. Um, I like software engineering, because I like bringing new things to the world. I like having heavy impact on the world. But I don't like the process of coding, if that makes sense. So that's why I made that change to product management because it gives me the satisfaction and a kind of it really fits with my personality because I'm super organized. I can multitask very well. And I'm really good with people. So I like product management way better.

Kimmiko James  15:01  
So like, if you could compare the different tasks you had to do as being a sweetness as a product manager, what would they be like? You don't have to go super in depth day to day. But like, what's the difference between the two for you like,

Lance Davis  15:15  
I'll say, there were like 10 times more meeting, as a product management intern, more meetings than a product management intern than a sweet intern like product management intern, Lance was doing seven meetings a day, like just a lot of meeting I just constantly on WebEx, constantly meeting with people talking all day, I would need to take a sip of water, like every five seconds, because there's just so much talking. But software engineering was just especially with the virtual part, when I was virtual was just sitting on the couch, using Stack Overflow, just trying to figure things out alone, maybe having a couple calls for people that can help me out with what I'm doing. But nothing too extensive. It was always just like, Okay, well, today, I'm going to work on this. And that will be my entire day, I'll just spend the entire day working on something. And then once I get it done, report back to my manager, like, Hey, I got this done anything else you need done? Or I think that I would like to work on this next. So I would say the main difference is just the fact that product management is very hectic. And it's a whole lot of pressure. It's definitely not for everybody. 100% not for everybody, like you have to know that you want to get into product management, because it's a stressful job. I'm not gonna lie. But I personally think I do well under pressure, I think I do better under pressure. So the transition was pretty comfortable for me.

Kimmiko James  16:51  
Two things really stood out for me, from what you just said, the first thing we can get into is just like something I can personally relate to maybe a lot of other people. The the comparison between cooking and software engineering of like, do I like it? Yes. But I don't necessarily love it as much as like a passion of me wanting to become a chef. And that's exactly what I what I feel From Software Engineering have like, the skills you gain from it are so valuable, like problem solving abilities, the ability to like break things down more the ability to commute, communicate, technical things to non technical people, you just teach people and so many other things you get from it, but it's not something you wake up excited for every day. Yeah, and especially to your point, the virtual part made it so much more isolating, for me doing slack in person, and seeing my team every day and going to maybe one or two meetings, because as you said, there's not that many meetings suffer engineering, and just walking by people in the office, it's like, this feels nice. I'm not only just sitting at my desk, working on a feature struggling by myself, eight hours straight. But the virtual part made software engineering, at least for me way, way less enjoyable than I would have liked it to be. And I think this is a conversation people should have. And I guess for my mentors and people I talked to, they still kind of push this narrative of like, you have to be passionate to be in tech or software engineering. And I'm like, Whoa, not necessarily. Like Yeah, yeah, it's a job just like any other job, just different functions. And I guess it pays more so.

Lance Davis  18:42  
Yeah, exactly. I was just gonna say like, some people, really, they see the salary of a software engineer, and they just put their they put their comfort aside, and they just do it. And personally, I don't think I could bring myself to do something like that. You know, it may be different for everybody else. I can't speak for everybody, but me, I have to be completely passionate about whatever I'm working on, which is why I really, I really pushed for Apple to put me on a product management project. Because it was at some point where this the virtual software engineering, I say, Yeah, I can't do this anymore. Like, I'm a I'm a pretty talented coder. I you know, know my stuff when it comes to object oriented programming. But just being alone, coding all day. It's just not for me an extrovert. It's not for me.

Kimmiko James  19:36  
Yeah. Thanks for your honesty, because a lot of people are lying right now. But, yeah, I appreciate that. I know. It's kind of hard to like leave a good software engineering salary and jump into something new, but I will say it is valuable to do it, especially at the internship level. So

Lance Davis  19:58  
that's all Yeah, free. Yeah. And One thing that I really find interesting is that the demand for software engineering is so high, like, there's so much growth in the software engineering world. But then, at the same time, people are realizing that software engineering really isn't for anybody, like you need to, you need to be made for software engineering. So it's kind of like that, that paradox where we need a lot of software engineers, so we want to encourage more people to become software engineers. But at the same time, not everybody can become a software engineer. And as a matter of fact, the personality type for good software engineers, in fact, pretty rare. So it's, it's a real weird balance between the two. And I'm really excited to see where the tech industry goes next. But I do think that eventually tech is going to move toward a space where everyone knows how to code. But not everybody is a software engineer, if that makes sense.

Kimmiko James  21:00  
Before I jump into that, just to like clarify what Lance is trying to say, he's not saying that you need to be born a super genius to code just for clarification. He's not saying that whatsoever. Like, he's basically saying, like, for any profession, really, your personality type just might not be a fit. Kind of like the the cooking example, I don't know, I, I'm decent at cooking. And if I try really hard enough, like I'm trying for tech, that doesn't mean I should be like a world class chef, like Gordon Ramsay or anything. So that's the point he was trying to make for anyone that's freaking out. That wants to try tech. But I agree, I actually agree. I feel like knowing how to code, at least a little bit would go a long ways for the communication problems in your in the business person to well, the client, to the business person to the product manager to the software engineer, there's like some miscommunication that goes on there. So I think that would benefit people. But maybe you could touch up upon a bit a bit better than me.

Lance Davis  22:05  
Yeah, 100%. I think people should know code, like, people know, algebra. You know, just, if, if you gave me an algebra problem, I could reach back into my high school days and be like, Yeah, I know how to do this and figure it out. I think it should be the same for code. People that there aren't too many people who are algebraic mathematicians, that career where you're just doing algebra, that career is very rare. I see it, I see software engineering is the same way like I feel as a software engineer should be so much more than just someone who just codes.

Kimmiko James  22:43  
Guys, Pardon the Interruption, but I just wanted to take a minute to talk about the book I'm releasing in the coming months. If you're a student looking for an internship or new grad job offer, you're definitely going to want to read this book, I walk you through how to create the perfect resume, how to build side projects, both technical and non technical, how to get leadership skills, and just generally speaking, how to stand out amongst 1000s of applicants. The base ebook will be available January 2021. But if you're looking for paperback or Kindle versions, that will be released sometime in Fall 2021. So be sure to check out the link at bi T dot L y slash GTO underscore book. Okay, now back to the episode.

Lance Davis  23:29  
So I think coding should be a tool, yes, that a lot of people should get to know and should learn how to use. But I do think that eventually it's going to start moving to the point where majority of the people know how to code. It's kind of like a requirement for any type of job. But what they look for is the problem solving skills, rather than the coding skills.

Kimmiko James  23:52  
Yeah, probably the best way to summarize it, like the way I describe it, the easiest way to describe people to people, and what made me stop fearing code so much. It's just like, it's literally just translating English into another language. That's basically Yeah, it really is just that and it makes it a little scary.

Lance Davis  24:10  
But I mean, everyone wants to bounce around. I feel as though especially now since it's like it's not culturally taboo to bounce around to companies and just try a bunch of different things you know, have a bunch of different careers in your lifetime I think that's the way that life should be lived.

Kimmiko James  24:31  
Kind of just adding on to how much you enjoy pm in comparison to sweet is pm something you'd want to go to into as a full timer Are you still gonna go with the mindset of whatever happens happens if I don't like pm, I'm just going to try something else.

Lance Davis  24:48  
I actually haven't really told too many people but next summer I'm actually going to be a hardware pm at Microsoft. And I'm going to take that experience and I'm going to see if I you know you know pm is really, really For me, Now, granted, it's a hardware pm experience. So it's probably going to be very different from what I was doing at Apple, which was software machine learning pm. But I'm still going to take it, take the experience and make a final decision. But right now I'm definitely leaning toward pm. But the way that I see pm is kind of a stepping stone toward entrepreneurship. So that's, that's what I want to get into. Maybe not long, long term, I would say, early 30s. Maybe I definitely want to have at least one startup started in then see what I mean. Just see where it takes me. But I definitely want to see what I can bring to the world. Definitely want to see what I've got.

Kimmiko James  25:42  
Course. Also, you can start anytime. You don't need. Exactly,

Lance Davis  25:47  

Kimmiko James  25:48  
Also, congrats on the Microsoft offer. I mean, I already congratulate you on Instagram, but again, Congrats. Thank you. And I'm sure you come across a lot of people that talk to you about this too, because for me, people are just like, oh my god, you interned at blank or Oh my god, you interviewed at blank like it's some mythical creature or something. So you know, finding these these opportunities, internships, I like big companies like Apple, Slack, whatever, they just seem impossible quotation marks to people, for people. But we both know that that's not really true at all. So how did you go about finding and earning these internship opportunities,

Lance Davis  26:30  
I kind of I kind of went a non traditional route. So my freshman year, my first year studying computer engineering I take so as a computer engineering student, I take my software classes later than computer science students. So like my intro to object oriented programming classes, data, structures, algorithms, everything is pushed back as a computer engineer. And then I'm also taking electrical engineering classes as well. So it's kind of like, I'm a mix of electrical engineering and computer science. But I don't learn as much as a computer scientist does. And I don't learn as much as an electrical engineer does, I kind of like learn both. So. But that was a weakness of mine. Because I started out my computer science colleagues, were already taking coding classes. And I didn't take my first one until my second semester of my freshman year. So you know, interviewing for the freshmen internships, like the Google step internship and Microsoft explore internship, I was at a major major disadvantage, because I never coded before, I had to teach myself coding in order to prepare for the interviews on YouTube or whatever. And it just didn't work out. Like I didn't do very well, because I just didn't know it. And I was I was really hard on myself. But you know, sometimes when you're given those situations where you're rejected by everybody, and you almost given up hope, sometimes you just have to take a step back and say, Okay, how else can I accomplish my goals? Like, what is my end goal? I'm only a freshman, where do I really want to end up? And at the time, I was just like, Look, I just want to end up in Silicon Valley. I want to be one of you know, one of those people that people read about in the news saying, hey, this guy in tech did this did XYZ. So that was when I asked my, my mentor, just how can I get into Silicon Valley without technically being at one of these huge companies. And he suggested to me doing research. So I was doing undergraduate research, I was granted into a research program at my school that's funded by Intel. And I was doing undergraduate research, but I was mostly doing it out of curiosity, because at that point, I was curious about, you know, pursuing my PhD. But with this research experience, I applied to Stanford, a summer undergraduate research program at Stanford. And I thought that that would be a good way to get into into Silicon Valley, like Stanford is the mother of Silicon Valley. And if I did research there, then it would be it wouldn't be a traditional way. But it would be a way of getting into Silicon Valley. And I was willing to take that, take that chance by any means necessary. So I applied to the Stanford internship, research internship, I also applied to UC Berkeley. And yeah, like USC, just a bunch of a bunch of schools that were close to California. So I got into the Stanford Undergraduate Research Program, the competition was shockingly low. Because I don't know research may not be popular, I don't know. But I was granted the opportunity to do research in machine learning at Stanford the summer after my freshman year. And as soon as I touched down in California, I said, I need to, I need to meet somebody who can give me a software engineering internship next summer. The research itself was super dope. I just knew that I wasn't fit for a PhD cut going back to the personality thing. PhD is not for me. I'm a pure extrovert, and I like getting things done fast. PhDs, definitely not for me. And that's okay. Like, like, I would like to be called Dr. Davis, that would be really cool. But it's not happening. It's not happening. But during my research, I just met as many people as I could I met as many people as I could in tech, specifically. And actually, what happened was my professor, the professor that I did research under his former PhD student, was a director on the Siri team at Apple. So she's really high up, you know, she you see her on like, the videos that Apple has been releasing and everything like about the new Siri features or whatever, like, like, she's up there, up there. And that was her. That was his old PhD, PhD candidate. So I talked to him and I said, Look, is there any way you could connect us? And granted, we didn't, we didn't meet in person. But um, she did, she did tell my professor that she put a good word in. And the next summer, I applied to Apple, and I got in, and I asked my manager, just kind of like, what made you choose me? And he said that he actually got a letter of recommendation. One of the directors of Syrians said, oh, wow, this kid has a letter of recommendation from her, he's got to be good. So that was a little bit of divine intervention right there. But really putting yourself out there I think, and don't and getting things done by any means necessary. Because imagine if I would have taken the rejections from Google and Microsoft and said, Alright, well, I guess I'm just gonna chill this summer, and didn't go for the research. I mean, I wouldn't have stopped, I wouldn't have gotten in to Apple, probably, you know, I may have gotten in some other way, but maybe not as early and maybe not with maybe not with the miraculous decision that I got in, if that makes sense.

Kimmiko James  31:57  
100%. And I think that's where a lot of students miss the mark, which is why I'm creating a book self promo, really, to guide people on how to, like, get internships and new job offers, because I mean, it's a common term that's been around for years now, even before the tech industry just boomed of like, it's all a new, you know, and yeah, it really is. At that point in my career,

Lance Davis  32:21  
I was not that good at coding, I really was not, I only got good after my first Apple internship. That was when I learned a majority of my skills on that internship. But beforehand, I mean, I was getting demolished in the interviews, I had five interviews for Apple. I want to say, I almost figured out one of the technical questions, almost didn't even didn't even close on the other ones. And I think they were more looking at the way that I approached the problem. Just seeing that I could grow in that. But it was like, I thought I had a 0% chance of getting into Apple just the way that the interviews were going. But they kept inviting me for more. They kept giving me more interviews, and just learning code by going through fire. Really. That's how I got good.

Kimmiko James  33:14  
Yeah, not a lot of people want to go through that process. Yeah, I'm really glad you mentioned the some people just aren't built for it. Because it it's hard. Like it's not just I stare at my screen for eight hours. And I make six figures. No, no, no, no, no, you gotta you gotta go through a lot to make it. Yeah,

Lance Davis  33:32  
like software engineer. Full delight like those, those software engineer level fives and stuff. I have so much respect for them. I have so much. Like, I can't imagine how difficult that job is.

Kimmiko James  33:47  
I'm mainly using software engineering to just get ahead in the entrepreneurial space, kind of like you are. Yeah. Because for me that PMA working out, these companies just want really specific qualities for pm internships. I'm just not good. So I'm like, that's fine. I'll be a technical founder.

Lance Davis  34:04  
Yeah, exactly. And there's technical founders are the best types of founders because they know what they're doing. Rather than walking into something blind.

Kimmiko James  34:14  
I just wanted to highlight a point that a lot of people take for granted, like going through so many rejections and just taking a step back. Because a lot of people that I know, or that I see on Reddit or LinkedIn, you just apply, get rejected so many times and you just keep applying, you're not changing the way you're going about doing it. And for me, it was kind of like you have like, you know, what, what is my actual goal? And for me, I didn't really say Silicon Valley, but I just said, I want a software engineering internship. So very simple, very simple, but actually more complicated than just applying. So like you I was like, how can I get there? I think I should go to these networking events at Facebook and Twitter and For over the summer, which I did, I didn't even have an internship. But they still let me in. Yeah, like, Yeah, and I am what that comes meeting students at all these different companies. And that's a way to get a referral or even just to talk to them about where they're working. And then you meet recruiters, and then you meet software engineers at the company. It's more than just the recruiter, by the way, but just figuring out how to get my foot in the door. And with that came a grace hole, a Grace Hopper scholarship, and going to Grace Hopper and then meeting more companies and then following up months later to just, you know, just schedule an interview if that's what they want, or where if I'm given that opportunity, rather. And a lot of people don't really see past the application site. So yeah, I really do appreciate the advice and unintentional advice of just taking a step back reassessing and figuring out how you want to achieve that goal.

Lance Davis  35:57  
So Exactly. Every goal can be achieved in multiple ways. It just depends on which way you choose in which way, which way you're meant to choose really

Kimmiko James  36:08  
hard to know, at 20 years old, but people will figure it.

Lance Davis  36:13  
Exactly, exactly.

Kimmiko James  36:15  
So yeah, I just I came up with two lightning round questions. One while we were recording this, and then one I added before this, though. So the first one would be like, what is one of your most favorite personal projects? You've worked on? coding project? Okay, say, coding. Yeah, coding.

Lance Davis  36:36  
So I will say I taught myself floater. So over my last internship, well, it was really a co op Apple because I I started in March, and I ended in August. But over that time I taught myself flutter. flutter is a hybrid language. So I like you'll basically code, an app, and it can compile on Android operating system or iOS. So I taught myself that and just the amount and the sheer amount of ideas that I came up with, it overwhelmed me so much that I was like, Okay, let me just let me just add this skill to my resume and then see what I can do it later because I tried everything from so I will say the coolest thing that I started on grant, I didn't finish it. But I started on this app, where you could create a playlist, and you could share it to your friends, regardless of if they have Apple Music, Spotify, title, anything. In it, the concept was really easy. You just had to use the Spotify API, Apple musics API title API, they all have just these API's where you could, you know, call the function, create a playlist, add the songs on it, and send it, I may finish it at some point, especially since I have like a really long winter break. But we'll see. We'll see though, but I definitely think that my flutter projects are just some of the coolest things that I've ever worked on. And then also just going back, it's really hard for me to just sit down and code these things up, because I just get so bored. But you know, got to persevere. Kind of persevere.

Kimmiko James  38:13  
Definitely. And my last and final and second, lightning round question is. So this is a hypothetical thing. I think I sent this to you, actually. So your current nazmi member on your campus. So if I'm a total newbie, let's say an English major, because my campus English majors do come to nesby meetings. If I came to one of your meetings and asked how can I get started on my path into tech, or computer science, what would you tell me?

Lance Davis  38:43  
I would tell you to get on and get active on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been man, like number one resource for me and my career. I've built my LinkedIn up a whole lot. I have like a ton of connections, and people. So a lot of people criticize me on that actually, they say like, you know, you're not supposed to have a lot of nice LinkedIn connections you're supposed to like, make sure that every connection on LinkedIn counts. But the thing is, man, I've gotten opportunities from people that I don't even know who I'm connected to. They post something on their timeline. And I go for it. Like, for example, it was this one conference. It was a virtual conference that I participated in this last spring. Yeah, it was around April of something. It was just the coolest thing I got to hear from like VPS of different small companies, small tech companies. I got to, I got to hear from people that worked at big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and everything. I got in for free because somebody posted on their LinkedIn just like a scholarship to get free registration. And I applied and they emailed me back and said, Hey, here's your ticket to participate in the webinar this weekend or whatever. And it was just a is a super cool experience from somebody that I didn't even know. And as a matter of fact, I didn't even reach out to them. I didn't let them know that I got the scholarship or anything, I just, I just accepted it. Because I mean, it just opportunities, I forgot who I even got that from, you know, just opportunities left and right. And you have a lot of LinkedIn connections, because that's the point of LinkedIn, you post these opportunities, you get people on board, you help out your network. And you know, I post I post opportunities on my LinkedIn as well. It just is, I feel as though the bigger your network is, the more the higher the probability is for you to find something that's really good for your career.

Kimmiko James  40:39  
LinkedIn is so I mean, I think it's getting some popularity if I if I do so. Yeah, myself, but I will say it's helped me out too, and probably other people have like, it doesn't really matter how many people you're connected with. I agree with the fact that the more the better, because then you can see that connections, connections posts, of like, someone I'm not even connected with, I see their opportunity they're posting because someone I'm connecting with is commenting. And for me it kind of like the same thing. Like I see an opportunity. I'll post in comments, maybe the opportunities going, but usually, after I comment and then connect and dm I usually am met with a very nice response. So yeah, yeah, agree. 100%.

Lance Davis  41:22  
Yeah, I mean, just meeting mentors, I I met one of my mentors. He's an APM at Google. We know he's a pm at Google. I'm sorry. He's been a pm for like, five years, I think. And I reached out to him. And he's, he's, you know, we've done pm interview prep. He's been one of my most major resources in getting into product management. Granted, we're in the same fraternity, so like, you probably had an affinity to respond to me, but you know, just taking that shot reaching out to people.

Kimmiko James  41:56  
Yep, it's as easy as a simple message, as I said previously, so. But yeah, thanks for coming on. Let sharing your experience and a lot of valuable advice, especially for college students just figuring all this stuff out. So do you have any socials, websites that you can plug so people can follow you in your journey?

Lance Davis  42:16  
Yeah, for sure. So, you know, you can add me on LinkedIn. You can just find me Atlanta Davis. I think my my little tag is Computer Engineering at MCAT. I don't have like, you know, my internship up there, whatever. I just have computer engineering and cat on my LinkedIn, but you can find me, Lance Davis, and then also I'm on Twitter, lavish Lance, one word. And then I'm also on Instagram as Lance underscore almighty.

Kimmiko James  42:42  
Okay, well, yeah. Thanks for joining me.

Lance Davis  42:45  
Awesome. Thank you. Kimmiko.

Kimmiko James  42:48  
If you want to keep up with Lance or reach out to him, then be sure to check him out and connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, or his Instagram. Just a general heads up that uploading of episodes will resume in December given Thanksgiving week is coming up fast. And I'll need some time to queue up some more guests for the coming weeks. I repeat, more episodes will be available in December and I can't wait for you to listen then. Thank you. Thank you again for listening to the black enterprise network podcast and it would be greatly appreciated if you could leave a review on Apple podcasts or any other platform that has reviews.

Lance Davis Profile Photo

Lance Davis

Lance studies computer engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. He love computer architecture and machine learning disciplines, and in his spare time he likes to do yoga and roller skate.