March 30, 2021

#19: Shason Briscoe - Software Engineer at SurveyMonkey


My guest for this episode is Shason Briscoe. Shason is a Software Engineer at Survey Monkey and advocate for growing diversity in the tech industry, especially for the black community. He shares how he got interested in Silicon Valley and tech, what it's like to be an intern vs a full timer, and how he's had an impact on black tech and engineering communities.

Show Notes

Introduction [0:00]

What Got Him Interested in The World of Technology and Engineering [02:16] 

His Sisters Who Work at YouTube and Chevron [05:19] 

Why He Decided to Stick with Computer Engineering [07:19] 

Advice for Students That Want to Get into Engineering or Wanting to Give Up Engineering [10:39] 

Any Software Engineering Alternatives He Would Want to Explore [13:39] 

Resources and Organizations He Found Most Helpful for Him [15:02] 

How He Find Out About These Resources [16:36] 

His Experience Being a Code 2040 Fellow and How Got His Job at Survey Monkey [18:36] 

What His Day to Day Looked Like as an Intern at Survey Monkey [21:58] 

What Life Has Been Like for Him as a Full Timer Compared to Being an Intern [25:05] 

His Highest and Lowest Points Since Starting His Tech Career [28:30]

How He was Able to Get Past the Low Points [31:54]

What Drives Him to Do the Things He Has Done in The Past and Still Doing Today [33:53]

His Diversity Work at Survey Monkey [41:11]

Advice for People who Want to Contribute to Their Communities [43:24]

Key Takeaways

  • When I was younger, I was really active on YouTube. I used to watch a lot of tech bloggers, and I used to follow Apple keynotes. I was always in love with seeing Steve Jobs and other presenters come out and unveil new products. Then I was like, I want to do tech, and I want to do something related to Silicon Valley.
  • I went to Silicon Valley with my parents, and I went to the headquarters of Google, IBM and Cisco. From that entire experience I was able to choose a degree, and I chose computer engineering. I wanted to do hardware, but it didn't work out because my GPA.
  • I ended up doing a software engineering internship, which are pretty lot easier to come by, and now I'm a software engineer.
  • “I never had any coding experience at all until college. I didn't even know that I wanted to do coding. I didn't take the computer science classes in high school. I wish I'd done all that stuff earlier, but I didn't know what I wanted to do…”
  • I always love the consumer facing product aspect, like shipping a product that millions of users will use. It is super exciting and fulfilling to me, and that has been my main driver.
  • One of my sisters works marketing at YouTube, and the other one does audit and business at Chevron.
  • “My sister's going on and going to work at big companies and making money was definitely influential on me wanting to also go on and do those things…”
  • “If you get hired through someone that works at Google, the person gets a bonus. So that was incentive on our end, but also, that was a way to get other black people interested in working at Google or tech companies in general…”
  • “The main thing that I wanted to do was find every single person who was interested and every single person who had this in their purview. So, we could get them into the fold and make an impact on people…”
  • “I feel like the main thing I realized later in my college career was that having that first internship is so impactful for your entire career development…”
  • If someone who is able to get internship opportunity, and was able to go to a conference and see other black students succeed, we would be able to retain so many more black students in engineering and the STEM world in general.
  • Staying in the major was the only option I could only think of, going down into thinking about what alternatives could be, that was really the only option I had, and that's why I stayed.
  • “If you're not feeling it, try to find the source of why they're not feeling it. If it's due to grades or if it's because the class material, I try to tell them that they can get some direct exposure to what they'd actually be working on as an engineer after college and see if they like that.…”
  • “If the pain point is your classes, your grades, I think that it's really important to see how you can fix that going forward, and see how you can meet with counselors and tutors, and get all the help you need to pass those classes…”
  • “Getting the internship experience is super important, because you do get the firsthand experience of what it is like being an engineer…”
  • “I definitely see myself maybe exploring products in the future. I definitely like the strategic aspect of looking at how different products, product cycles and everything can perform over time…”
  • I'm not creative enough to be a designer but I would love to work with designers more and get more exposure on that end.
  • “I think being on NSBE was extremely important as I got the presidential experience, but also just being on the board and using that to your advantage on your resume. Using it to make connections with companies was super vital for me.”
  • “Whether it's places /dev/color or MLT, I think just being around like-minded people, really helps you stay on track and stay consistent in pursuit of what you want…”
  • It was definitely a word of mouth thing like the Black Valley group chat, that was extremely important. Googling a lot of Black Computer Engineering, Computer Science organizations online, talking to people see what people are doing, that was the main way I got through things.
  • “When I was a NSBE, I told people to sign up for MLT, got people to sign up for a whole bunch of different stuff…”
  • “If you don't have any of those people on campus, try to join a group, a virtual group online, try to just do a lot of research on your own…”
  • Code 2040 was a program made in the early 2000-10s, after Google released a report about the lack of diversity in the company. Code 2040 was made to get Black and Latino technologists into the industry and, set them up with internships that had different stipulations for how they should be paid.
  • I actually got Survey Monkey outside of that process. I reached out to a recruiter at Survey Monkey over LinkedIn. She offered me an internship interview, and after a couple of interviews, I got the job.
  • I had to learn JavaScript, React, CSS and everything on the job. So, a lot of googling, a lot of just learning on the job, asking for help on jQuery and everything.
  • “Day to day, it was mainly just working through problems, and seeing how I could meet my goals for the week in order to be successful for the summer…”
  • As an intern, I was way more active on different social media avenues for tech. I felt like I was on the hunt, looking for events to go to like Pinterest, or Slack, and go to different lunch events or anything after work. I feel like I was super eager to help out people from Davis and help them get internships and get interviews.
  • Since then, I feel like I've become more detached from things, which I don't really like because I do want to stay involved.
  • “I think when you're an intern, you are at the mindspace like you're hungry, you want to succeed, you want to get a return offer. So, you just have the thought, the social battery to do as much as possible.”
  • “For your full time, you are settled in, and you're just focusing on getting your job done for the week and then signing off. That's kind of where I've been in the past couple of months…”
  • I would say my highs were mainly the first three months I was working on shipping my intern project and making sure that it was production ready.
  • I think mainly the last year has been mostly highs, definitely some days where I feel like I do want to get out of the house.
  • Being transparent about what exactly you need, I think that's been super helpful. Sometimes if you try to act like you're smart, try to act smart about it, people won't give you the information you need.
  • I've been trying to really make the best questions possible at work and ask people the right questions. Afterwards, just decompressing, closing my laptop, watching TV, and doing things that make me happy like baking, cooking.
  • “I grew up in a middle class, upper middle class privileged background, which is not as common in the black community. But I definitely wanted to make sure that I was giving back...”
  • “I feel like in my position, in college, and working in NSBE, I wanted to uplift the people who are the nearest to me and the people that I could directly impact as quickly as possible…”
  • “It's just the misconception of when you see people in tech, you just automatically assume you're not smart enough, or you're not good enough. But when you see people that are like you, and they get past their demons, and all these different obstacles, they just uplift you.” - Kimmiko James
  • As we were all remote last summer, a lot of our ERGs weren't able to interact directly with our interns much and that was something that we I brought up whenever I was an intern, that we need to have more exposure to the black ERGs, and others like the LGBT ERG and women in engineering.
  • For me, if you're in a college setting, most universities have NSBE, or any organization. If there is no organization; don't make one, start a club. Find some other black students that you might have run into. They might be interested in helping start one for Black Engineers or black people who are interested in tech.
  • “Meeting other people, just that helps a whole bunch and giving you personal perspective, you need to help other people…”

Where to Find Shason Briscoe

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shason-briscoe/

Instagram: shasonbriscoe https://www.instagram.com/shasonbriscoe/?hl=en

 

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  
This episode, I'm joined by Jason brisco, a software engineer at Survey Monkey, an advocate for growing diversity in the tech industry, especially for the black community. He shares how he got interested in Silicon Valley in tech, what it's like to be an intern versus a full timer, and how he's had an impact on black tech and engineering communities. Let's get into it. 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. Thanks for joining me coming on. I've been trying to get you on for a minute, because I don't know I just think you have a lot of insights to share when it comes to tech and community building and stuff like that. So yeah, thanks for taking the time to come on. Jason.

Shason Briscoe  0:49  
Thank you so much for having me on as well. I'm happy to be here.

Kimmiko James  0:54  
But yeah, if you feel like you want to restart a thought, go for it. Anything like that? Let me know.

Shason Briscoe  1:00  
Okay.

Kimmiko James  1:01  
Do you have where you get started? And

Shason Briscoe  1:02  
he's harder question. Yeah, we can get started now. Yeah, everything seems good.

Kimmiko James  1:07  
Yeah. So firstly, I just want to know, I guess, have you been? Because I feel like it's been maybe two years since I've seen you in person? Mm hmm. I don't know. It's been a hot minute. How have you been? Hmm,

Shason Briscoe  1:25  
it's definitely been a hot minute. I feel like a lot has changed, but not much, in a way. Very lucky to have a job and be working. Working on Survey Monkey for last year, I had my year anniversary last week, February 10. So you know, good whoops to that. But everything's been steadily progressing. Just like trying to see where I want to go on my career, and see how I can, like do other stuff without overwhelming myself, I feel like in college, I had so much bandwidth to do so much. And then now I'm like a lazy old person. And I feel like I just like want to do my job, and then log off. And I do anything else. But I haven't making time with doing Deaf color, and a few other organizations. So it's been it's been nice.

Kimmiko James  2:12  
Sounds good. We can get a little bit more into that once we start talking about your industry experience, because that's kind of an interesting thought. He might feel like you're limited when you're full time. Whereas a lot of people, myself included, I would think you would be I don't know, you feel like you'd have more freedom with full time. So we can definitely get into that. Yeah. I just love to start with what got you interested in the world of technology and engineering.

Shason Briscoe  2:37  
So basically, when I was younger, I was really active on YouTube, like watching YouTube videos like 2010 11. That was like early YouTube days when a lot of those people aren't even around anymore. But I used to watch a lot of tech bloggers. And I used to follow Apple keynotes. So I'd watch like Apple product releases every single time. And I was always like in love with like seeing like Steve Jobs and other presenters come out and unveil new products. So I took that entire experience of like every year just like following product releases. And then I was like, I want to do tactic I want to do something related to Silicon Valley. And so I did a blast my parents, we could go on a trip to Silicon Valley, or Houston at the time, we came to Silicon Valley, and I went to a whole bunch of tech headquarters went to like Google, and IBM and Cisco, I think a few others. And it was just like, it was just like basic stuff. I didn't get to meet anybody or anything just like went to the headquarters or just like something I was doing when I was younger. And from that entire experience I was able to build on just like choosing a degree. So I chose computer engineering for college. And I was like, I wanted to do hardware, hardware, it didn't work out because my GPA didn't work out to be what I wanted it to be to get jobs in hardware engineering. So I ended up doing a software engineering internship, which are pretty lot easier to come by because you do get graded on your technical skills more I feel like so. Yeah, then I know I'm a software engineer.

Kimmiko James  4:16  
But what were what was the content like in those videos? Was it just people coding or playing with computer content?

Shason Briscoe  4:25  
What kind? Oh,

Kimmiko James  4:25  
yeah. When when you were watching the videos when you were younger,

Shason Briscoe  4:29  
YouTube videos, it was always just like reviews unboxings just like like basic like of like nothing related to engineering. Specifically, I never had any coding experience at all until college. I didn't even know that want to do coding. I didn't take the computer science classes in high school AP Computer science classes. I wish I'd done all that stuff earlier, but I didn't know what I want to do. So I was mainly just focused on wanting to do hardware maybe. So at the time, it was Just like overviews of products. And even now like I always love, like the consumer facing product aspect, like shipping a product that millions of users will use is like super, like super exciting to me and like fulfilling. So that's been my main driver acts.

Kimmiko James  5:19  
Like an extra question I kind of had on top of that, which Feel free to correct me. But I believe you do have two older sisters that are both in engineering. I know you definitely have one sister that works at Google as a software engineer, and then another one that might work at Chevron. No, no,

Shason Briscoe  5:35  
they work. First their vote Yeah, no, they definitely they definitely work at companies to hire a lot of engineers, but they do business mustard as marketing or YouTube. A lot of sister does business at Chevron, she does auditing and like business related stuff at Chevron. So I mean, like, I got into Google, I stood on the Google when I was in college are like when I was like, yeah, college or like late High School. And like, I guess like she's like intact, but not like in tech tech. So like, it's kind of different. But it's also kind of similar. But yeah, I've always wanted I wanted to do I want to go to California. First, my family and I wanted to do tech early on. So like, that wasn't as influential but definitely like my sister's going on and going to work a big companies and make money was definitely influential on me wanting to also go on and do those things. I guess. So.

Kimmiko James  6:37  
I mean, I only made that general assumption and conclusion because I remember MBA Black Engineers Association, you'd always ask people if they want to referrals to like Google, because used to work there. I was like, Oh, I guess she's an engineer. But

Shason Briscoe  6:52  
yeah, my sister, I was always pushing me to get people for referrals, who's always asked me if I could send you my friends over. I mean, a lot of people don't end up getting hired. Because like, if you get hired, through someone that works at Google, you get the person gets a bonus. So that was incentive on our end. But also, you know, that was just, you know, a way to get other black people interested in working at Google or tech companies in general.

Kimmiko James  7:19  
Exactly. Like it still helps people. I so a follow up for me, is just so especially on campus, and we've seen it and like the BA meetings, right, and especially you and gladius, approaching cold approaching people to see if they'd be interested in joining no matter what their major is, they will still come to the meetings, which I thought was pretty cool. But we just have met so many people that just switch out of engineering and don't want to do engineering because it's stressful. And it's difficult. I'm not over exaggerating, it is both of those things. So why did you decide to stick with the keeping that in mind,

Shason Briscoe  7:53  
I feel like the main thing was, we were kind of starting from scratch every year, because there weren't many black engineering students. And since I also talked a lot about retainment, a lot of black engineers were being retained in the major either. So like after the first year, there was a huge drop off of people changing majors, freshman year to other different majors outside of the world of STEM. But the main thing that I wanted to do was find every single person who was interested and every single person who like you know, had this in their purview. So we could get them into the fold and like make an impact on people. So I feel like the main thing I realized later in my college career was that having that first internship is so impactful for your entire career development. And if you could get someone exposed to an internship, they would, the majors would let go, it's called the College of Engineering, we'll be able to retain so many more black students, if they had exposure directly to a job that they'd be working in after college. So as someone who is able to get internship opportunity, that someone was able to go to a conference and see other black students succeed would be able to retain so many more black students in engineering and in the entire like, you know, stem world in general. So, I thought it was pretty vital for me to go out directly and meet people and like ask people to join But definitely, it was definitely a hard thing because it is not many different avenues at UC Davis already to find people,

Kimmiko James  9:23  
specifically black I mean, why did you stick with engineering knowing it's hard and difficult,

Shason Briscoe  9:28  
specifically me? I feel like I stuck with it because I thought I had a lot of really hard quarters where I got I can I got I got on probation twice in college, and my GPA was suffering a little bit but I do feel like seeing other students and using the whole like, you know, be a thing and being president. I kept me wanting to succeed because whenever I got and I cannot probation the first time or not the second time the what's called My advisor was like, Oh, you're going to be president of an organization, we'd be able to handle that. So I wanted to, like, prove to myself that I could do it, but also the fact that I wanted to, like have a career afterwards, I wanted to stay in Computer Engineering cuz I didn't know what the hell else I could do besides doing computer engineering. So like, I don't know, like, I couldn't go do like medical school or whatever, or like go to law or business, I didn't want to do those things. So staying in the major was only an option I could only think of you won't arouse, like, you know, going down into thinking about what alternatives could be, that was really the only option I had. So that's why I stated,

Kimmiko James  10:39  
all valid and fair points. I understand your point of view. That's how I felt too. But I would say, and I believe you can answer this question very well, because I feel like after all the people you've talked to in the club, I think you can, do you have any advice for students that want to get into engineering? Or, or at that point of wanting to give up engineering because of just the stress that comes with it? Because, yeah, I've met a few people in the club that have given up on engineering and just went different paths. But what advice would you have for students that are just not feeling it?

Shason Briscoe  11:11  
If you're not feeling it, I would try to find like the source of why they're not feeling if it's due to grades or if it's because the class material, I try to tell them that they can get some direct exposure to what they'd actually be working on, as an engineer after college and see if they like that. So they like if they're going to be a software engineer, for example, do they like coding at all? Do they think that coding is a career path that they enjoy, at all? Like, I think that's a super important thing to look at, whenever you're deciding if you want to stay a software engineer, if you want to just like switch it to something else for other engineering, prospects like chemical or whatever, I think the coursework differs so much from the end result career that it's hard to, like, see where you fit in. But like, if the pain point is your classes, your grades, I think that's really important, just like see how you can fix that going forward, and see how you can meet with counselors and meet with tutors, and get all the help you need to like pass those classes. But also getting the internship experience is super important, because you do get the first you know, hand experience of what it is like being an engineer, and what it is like what it means to actually like do work that you've learned in that you've learned your trading, I guess.

Kimmiko James  12:32  
I feel like that's very good and underrated advice, which is why I feel most university should do a better job of showing people what they can actually do with their majors number one, and number two, why internships are so important. Because like you said, an internship is more than just getting paid. It's nice, but it helps you realize, do I like this thing? Do I like this company? Do I want to continue in tech, and you can get your answers from that. But like I said, I'm probably gonna say is too much. But we both met just a lot of people that don't understand the importance of mentorship, someone said, actually get one through life just changes. And maybe they do go into tech, maybe they don't. And they're just somebody with that experience. Or maybe they even just like see someone else at the company that they're working at that they

Shason Briscoe  13:18  
has a job that they would want. So like they see a product manager, they see someone in marketing or design, they're like, oh, maybe I don't want to do UX design. They can switch over to doing that, instead of just staying in software engineering, they have to code every day. But I think getting that exposure firsthand is just extremely important.

Kimmiko James  13:39  
And I asked this is kind of a follow up of what I thought about just a second ago. But for you, you kind of just expressed the main reason why you stayed in computer science and engineering is because you felt you kind of had to compare it to like trying out something new. And now that you've had your first entire year as a software engineer, do you think there are other alternatives you'd want to explore? Potentially,

Shason Briscoe  14:02  
I definitely see myself maybe exploring products in the future. I definitely like the strategic aspect of looking at how different products and like product cycles and everything can perform over time. So just like you know, being able to go to a manager go to what's called a bunch of engineers and tell them that you want this specific thing to be made. And they could have an impact on our business and X and Y ways. I think that's super fascinating. Think that stuff like design and stuff like I don't think I'm like, you know, that creative enough to be a designer but like I would love to work with designers more and get more exposure on that end. So like product would be cool. But for now probably stay in engineering. See my options going forward?

Kimmiko James  14:48  
Exactly. It's never too late in tech, and I think he'd be a great product manager. I can just see it right now.

Shason Briscoe  14:54  
Product Managers is always super extroverted. That's why I thought I'm extremely anxious.

Kimmiko James  15:02  
But before we jump into your industry experience, I just kind of like to finish with what resources organizations, anything in general, did you find to be the most helpful for you? Well, did you find to be the most helpful for you to guide you into the tech industry, kind of weirdly worded, but if you don't understand, let me know.

Shason Briscoe  15:22  
I think being on SB was extremely important as I got the presidential experience, but also just like being on the board and using that to your advantage on your resume. And also using it to like make connections with companies was super vital for me. I think for 2014, I did the tech track and 2018 I think now, like pretty much like, I fundamentally changed where my life is blind at the time, that was the summer after I had done academic probation. So like being able to be around people who are like minded, who gone through similar experiences in school, they really know how to like figure things out. And getting all the exposure of different companies over a seven day period and like making a bond with people that I still talk to now I live with one of them for my same program. I think it's amazing. Like, that was really like probably one of the most life changing things I did. And I just think getting more exposure, different organizations who can help you succeed, like whether it's company for you, whether it's places like dev color or MLT, I think just like being around like minded people, really helps you stay on track and stay consistent in pursuit of what you want.

Kimmiko James  16:36  
Very well said. And, like you say you live, you mentioned a lot of great programs and resources. But as we both know, on UC Davis, it was like, a lot of that stuff fell into our laps. Late like I didn't know what code 2040 was, I didn't know what MLT was, until I saw in the black family group chat. And then I like looked it up from my phone, because I didn't know what that was. So how did you go about finding these resources, especially when they're not, they're not really widely known on pw eyes, or non HBCUs. like ours,

Shason Briscoe  17:08  
it was definitely a word of mouth thing. So like, you know, black Valley group chat, that was extremely important. Just like finding like googling a lot like black Computer Engineering, Computer Science organizations online. And just like searching, talking to people see what people are doing. That was the main way I got through things. And then just like spreading that knowledge to everyone else. I think, if you can gather us have someone on campus who has an all this, you know, knowledge and experience. And then they can like, you know, be in the organization and tell other people about it. That's great. It's like I did that when I was a nesby. I told people to sign up for mot got people to sign up for a whole bunch of different stuff. And that was like, that helped a lot of people find jobs and find internships and find pathways to like their own success. So I think having a gift of definitely like, it's definitely luck. But like, if you don't have any of those people on campus, it's like try to join a group, a virtual group online, try to just like do a lot of research on your own, I guess.

Kimmiko James  18:13  
Yeah, I would say that ba on these e Davis campus was really beneficial to me, because even though I would say I'm very introverted, I feel like I've gotten past all of it in recent years. But I'm just having people walk up to me and telling me about these different events going on campus. Oh, Google's coming to our campus to show something. Oh, Facebook, coming onto our campus. Twitter's coming to present we should talk to then talk to the recruiter. And then just having you and Gladys again. And Chris and other people, NBA just walk up to me and tell me I should apply to this thing or text me I should apply this thing. It's, I guess, when you're really young, in college is kind of overwhelming. But I started to realize that it was very beneficial to have like you said, just someone always in your corner, always there to help you show those opportunities. So yeah. So yeah, I'd like to jump into your industry experience if you're ready to go. Yeah. Cool. So so I know how you got your job at Survey Monkey. But if you could share with the listeners, that'd be great. So can you just talk about your experience being a code 2040 fellow, and how that led to you getting your internship at survey monkey? Also, keeping in mind people might not know code 2040 years if you could just briefly describe that too.

Shason Briscoe  19:28  
Okay, so because only 40 was a program made in the early 2000 10s, after Google released a discrimination report that discriminate black race report of demographics at Google, to see how many people and like how diverse the company was those is pretty bad. So there's a company called 20 country 40 that was made to get a whole bunch of black and Latino technologists into the industry and like, set them up with internships that had like a whole bunch of different stipulations for how they should be paid. How they should be treated and like mentors, and a whole bunch of different programs inside the actual code 2040 base in order to help them succeed at the internship, so I did tech track. And then I signed up to be a fellow. And I had to go to a different program get to go through the, what's it called a finalist program. Basically, we do the coding challenge, then companies reach out to you. And if you get a job, then you become a fellow. I actually got Survey Monkey outside of that process. I've got 240, I reached out to a recruiter at Survey Monkey Rams wedding, I reached out to Whitney over LinkedIn. And I was asking her about nesby. Actually, she went to an event with us because I was like, desperate for events at the time, who talked to a whole bunch of recruiters in the Bay Area. And she was like, Oh, well, we don't actually have the bandwidth to do an event on campus. But I can offer you an internship, an internship interview, if you want sounds okay, I'll do this. I wasn't expecting to get a job out of it. Because I was pretty rusty. And this was my first ever CS interview pilot interview cycle that I've ever been in. That was my first ever interview technical interview I've ever done in my life. So I was able to do that. I did well. And then like, I was like, Okay, I'll take it seriously. Then I got the next round. And then I like studied a whole bunch. And then I got the job. So I lucked out on that one. But since Survey Monkey at that summer was because when you 40 partner, I was able to become a fellow and have Survey Monkey sponsored me and are called to the 14th banner. So that was great.

Kimmiko James  21:37  
Yeah, I also got my code 2040 internship externally. I knew a slack recruiter. And I was like, You know what, I don't feel like waiting for these other companies. So I'm gonna email. And then I got slack. And then I messaged code 2040. And then it was it was all good. You can do so. Huh?

Shason Briscoe  21:56  
That is good. It's a good way to get in.

Kimmiko James  21:58  
Yeah. But I wanted to know, what did your day to day look like, as an intern? And how does it compare to what you do now? Yeah.

Shason Briscoe  22:08  
I feel like as an intern, you just have so much energy and excitement. And like sometimes, like, you know, some people, you don't have any energy or excitement, but I feel like the vast majority of people in in the Bay Area that are interning are super, like extremely motivated. And they want to go to like 6 million events a week and meet as many people as possible. I kind of was like that, because I was like, I want to just like you know, make sure that I get as much exposure as possible. Because as it was my last summer, I could intern and that was my first ever internship. So it was just like one off chance nine weeks, or Survey Monkey. So day to day, breakfast food at Survey Monkey was great breakfast and lunch, would come in and then go to my desk, I get help from a mentor daily. And we'd like work on my project that I was like working on throughout the entire summer that I ended up shipping after the internship actually. And it was mainly just like him telling me like different concepts we could use to apply this specifics like implementation for profit, the project, and me googling about them and like actually learning how to do everything, because I'd only had exposure to Python, and c++ prior to this. And after that I wanted to after that I actually put on that I want to do back end on my so called on the server that they sent out for us. But I got either added onto a front end team. So I had to learn JavaScript, I had to learn react and CSS and everything on the job. So a lot of googling a lot of just like learning on the job asking for help on jQuery and everything. And I thought that was super helpful, because I was able to join, what's the call, I was able to learn so much from my entire experience. And just like trial and error, and they did take some they did take some What's it called? They did give me some leeway cuz I didn't have no I didn't have any exposure to front end before. But I was able to succeed and get enough done to where I presented in demo by the end of the summer. Yeah, day to day, it was mainly just like working through problems, and seeing how I could meet my goals for the week in order to be successful for the summer.

Kimmiko James  24:25  
And are you a front end now? Or did you decide I don't really like front end, I'm gonna switch back and like I originally wanted.

Shason Briscoe  24:32  
I'm fine at now because I like 20, Camilla, and I did enjoy doing front end. And whenever I did my exit interview, they talked about how they were going to be doing a react migration in the next two years. So I want to work on that. I wanted to do something like exciting, they'll give you all much exposure to react because react is wherever you find engineers doing now. So if I didn't want to go forward, I definitely need to have those tools in my toolkit. So I yeah, I just focused on I can't Back, join the same team. And now I'm still a front end engineer. So it's been great.

Kimmiko James  25:05  
happy to hear that. And I just wanted to go back to like what you said way early on, when we first got started, it was like, You were saying, when you're a full timer, you feel like things are a bit more limited. I guess you can like, well, like what's your What's life been like as a full timer compared to being an intern? I know, you don't get spoiled as much. But you know,

Shason Briscoe  25:26  
I fuck in turns is you have so many events. There's so many like seasons, we weren't, it wasn't COVID times. So that's probably a different, you know, a whole different mindspace 1000. At the time, I thought I was way more active on like different social media avenues for tech. I felt like I was just like, on the hunt, looking for events to go to like Pinterest, or slack or whatever, go to different lunch events or anything after work. I feel like I was super eager to like help out people from Davis and help them get internships and get interviews. And athletics since then I've kind of decided to become more, what's the call like detach from things which don't really like because I do want to stay involved. And I do want to help people by feel like maybe it's because I've been at home the entire time I've been working from home, after I end work, I just closed my laptop and I want to like do stuff that I do hobbies, I go out and do stuff that I'm enjoying. So I've really been involved in the community as much as I'd like. But I think they might change post COVID. But I think when you're an intern, you just like at the mindspace like you're hungry, you want to succeed, you want to get a return offer. So like you just like have the thought what's the call the social battery to do as much as possible? Hey, guys,

Kimmiko James  26:47  
Pardon the Interruption, but I just wanted to take a minute to talk about the new black enterprise network podcast website. If you've ever been curious about what a guest looks like, or what their social media links are, then we have detailed guest profiles for each episode. And there's also detailed show notes with time markers in case you wanted to find a specific point or piece of advice without listening to the entire episode. There's also readable episode transcriptions. And also the website allows you to easily send questions and feedback if you want to get in contact with me. Just know that the website will be updated on a weekly basis. So if you don't see something done already, then it will be done soon. Check it out at Black enterprise network.fm.

Shason Briscoe  27:29  
For your full time we kind of just like settled in, and you're just like focusing on getting your job done for the week. And then you know, signing off. That's kind of where I've been in the past couple of months.

Kimmiko James  27:40  
very valid points. Like then, yeah, we entered the same summer not at the same how many but definitely can agree about the energy levels. I went to a bunch of those events and I saw you at some of those events. I went to Google SF I think I went to Microsoft SF I went to a bunch of other random SF events cuz I have the energy afterward. I was like might as well get some free dinner out of it. And just network with all these different recruiters and people so I can definitely say the energy levels were high. And although I wasn't full time last summer when things were remote at slac I can definitely agree with just doing what you have to do and then putting your laptop down and then just I don't know be doing nothing.

Shason Briscoe  28:24  
Go watch TV go on. Do a whole bunch of different stuff you know fun stuff.

Kimmiko James  28:30  
Yeah, but I I've never really asked this question before but I am curious to know like, what do you think have been some of your highest and lowest points and starting your tech career as a swe literally a year ago?

Shason Briscoe  28:42  
Oh, well I would say my highs were mainly brought the gate the first three months I was working on shipping my intern project to like everybody making sure that it was part of production ready. And that was super house I sell super validated shipping it out. And like seeing users like real users click on it, use it, like everything getting logged, just like seeing it out in production, like telling people talking my family, but it was like, I felt great at the time. That was actually one of my hands. Also just like the entire year just like working on projects. There was a couple of days when I did break things like I broke our develop branch at work on GitHub, and I was like I felt super stressed that day. And there's just like random days where you just like super stress you're like completely keyed into your computer. Like you could probably just like be like Nate we could have been five hours because you're just like super like, glued in and like trying to put out a fire. So those days aren't the best days probably my lows but other than that I feel like it's mainly been eyes. I don't have as much exposure to you know, higher level software engineering work to where I could be like you know, having a title strap from day but hopefully those days no outcome but I think Mainly the last year has been mostly highs. Definitely some days where I feel like I do want to get out of the house. And like, as you see, I'm in my room. So like I sleep, eat. And I work in my room every day. And it's kind of like, you know, sometimes I work out here too. So I was just like a lot in one place. And I feel like that's definitely not healthy long term. So Dom says, I'll leave for some people, because they do like post COVID you could still like leave your house and go do stuff with your friends. But like, now I feel like, everything's in my house. And I'm just like, in my room all the time. So you definitely get stir crazy. And I will definitely put sugar to some lows will COVID times, but hopefully this will be done soon. So

Kimmiko James  30:46  
yeah, hopefully. I'm just I just keep telling myself Fingers crossed by summer, I'm vaccinated and more things are opened

Shason Briscoe  30:54  
up. So hopefully trying to get vaccinated as soon as possible. And we're literally like, the lowest of the lowest priority. So but you know,

Kimmiko James  31:03  
yeah, we're at the end of the line

Shason Briscoe  31:05  
on the line. I do enjoy remote work I do, I do enjoy being able to like take naps. And like not feel guilty. You're like, if I'm a slow workday, I can really just like watch or do anything. And like not be completely engrossed at work. But I do think that I do wish I could go into the office some days and get food. And like, you know, see people face to face get the you know, experience, but I do like remote work. I wouldn't mind like having to only go into the office two times a week, or a mind at all. I live five minutes from the office anyway. So it'd be no problem for me. But yeah, it's been cool. Otherwise, it's been a hard year for a lot of us. So I do want to say I'm blessed. I'm definitely lucky, and privileged. But I definitely want to make the most out of it as well. So

Kimmiko James  31:54  
of course, everybody's going through something different. So, but I will ask how have you been able to just get out of those loads, you know, because I feel like with people, you know, kickstarting their tech career for the first time ever, whether it's their first month, their first six months, their first year, whatever is still kind of hard to transition from working in the office or wanting the torque in the office to working in your bedroom with housemates. So what have you been doing to kind of get past those lows still continue work, but also maintain your sanity at the same time?

Shason Briscoe  32:27  
The main thing if a Sunday that there's a fire at work domain thing has been Yeah, going directly to like somebody on a team and saying, I don't understand what's going on. And just like being upfront, by not knowing what's happening, saying, like, I understand what's happening, can I get some help? I think that's been super helpful. Just like being transparent about what exactly you need. Because sometimes if you try to act like you're like, smart, try to act smart about it. People won't give you the information you need, because they don't understand how like how deep Ed you are, and like not understanding. So I've been trying to do that. I've been trying to really, just like be I'd make the best questions possible at work and like ask people ask the right people. And also just like afterwards, just decompressing closing my laptop, and like watching TV doing things that make me happy like baking, cooking. I've cooked a whole bunch I've I've barely ate out in the last like five months. It is Monday, I've been cooking. And I think that's been known as groceries and not that she people alive, our groceries being a lot cheaper than eating out. But I feel like I mean, if you want to eat good is hard in general. But you know, that's how it's been. So,

Kimmiko James  33:43  
I mean, I know you're world class chef Chacin. So you always got to get the best the best ingredients.

Shason Briscoe  33:50  
spending way too much money. Well, you know, it's fine.

Kimmiko James  33:53  
Yeah, that thanks for sharing those tips. I mean, anybody could use tips during this because not everybody knows what to do, especially starting their career out. But I want to get into my favorite part, which is just your community influence. So yes, I will read this paragraph because I had to write it out. So So I guess you could say like, we've had some differences in the past, I guess you could say, but something I've always admired about you overall, the past years, it's just, you always do what you can to help out the communities you're involved in. And which whether it's be a nesby, starting the diversity engineering someone on campus and what you bring a lot of recruiters and company reps to just recruit more students that are underrepresented. And you just put everything into making sure that people in the black community are supported. And that's just something I really appreciate about you. My main question is what drives you to want to do the things that you've done in the past and you're probably even still doing today?

Shason Briscoe  34:52  
Mm hmm. I think mainly, like thank you for, for Thank you first of all for like, you know, Feel. But I think mainly in the past, it's been, I've always wanted, like, I grew up in a, like a middle class, upper middle class privileged background, which is not as common in the black community. But I definitely wanted to make sure that I was giving back. And like using what's called whatever privilege, I had to ensure that other people were being uplifted as well along the way. And you know, that's still hard, because like I'm on a college campus, like people who are college are generally make more money, or generally have more money than people who aren't in colleges. So like, going also to elementary schools and making sure that people if they are interested in technology, they can like start early, and get hooked in food, a whole bunch of different accessible ways. I think that was super important to me, I think, also, just like my background of, I've always been really fascinated with sociology, looking at statistics about so called Black income inequality. And it's called, how black students fare in, like, middle schools and elementary and high school versus white students and Latino students as well. How like, how does it manage people like fun, like how I give you start out disadvantage, you're like disadvantaged to your entire life in this country. After that gave me a lot of perspective on how to approach community reach, and how to ensure that people were being uplifted, and like, finding ways to give, like give people that confidence to see themselves in the roles that they want to be in. So I think a lot of especially women and underrepresented minorities, whenever we approach these jobs, we're like, oh, I'm not smart enough to do this. I'm definitely not as intelligent to other people. And a lot of other lead groups are represented properly. And tech, they're the not approaching it that way, because their parents are engineers or their families, engineers. So they're approaching it like, Oh, I definitely can do this, I'll definitely like I'm, I'm not doing enough for like I need to be doing more, I need to be getting paid more, I need to be doing this. But I feel like once once a lot of black students or Black Engineers make it they're like, oh, like this is all I need a copy fine. And we're not really like looking to like go higher. So I definitely wanted to make sure that people were seeing the worth and seeing the value. But also just like ensuring that people are uplifted in other ways, like black people are houseless in San Francisco, black people who are, who are not in the position to even like think about going into a tech degree or going into the tech fields, like those people also need to be uplifted as well. I definitely want to focus in the future, if I have like, you know, the resources to helping uplift those people. But I feel like in my position, and college, and working in ezbee, I wanted to uplift the people who are like, you know, the nearest to me and the people that I could directly impact as quickly as possible. And that's how I approached it. And that's why I like you know, trying to help people get jobs and what's it called, expose them to different career paths, so they could be successful and, and make you know, enough money to start a family and help their children be successful, and have a rite of foundation going forward?

Kimmiko James  38:25  
Yeah, yeah, thank you for sharing that. And I mean, that's something I really appreciated about the summer, we did co 2040. Because they really put an emphasis on saying that, you know, it's more than just getting you this internship at this big tech company and getting you a job after you graduate. Because it really is more than that. And throughout the sessions. I didn't go to all of them. But the ones I did go to and the the summit, especially just, I don't know how to word it exactly. But I did appreciate them just being really honest of saying, you know, we worked really hard to get to this point, we get the job. And then that's it. We just live our lives with this six figure job and never give back. And I don't know, that's just something that really stuck with me through the program of like, when I do get a full job in tech, I do want to give back. I don't want to just feel like I'm comfortable because although I am a black woman, I feel like it did take me a minute to get there. And I of course I do feel like I would deserve that job. So many other people that might not know how to get to this point. And I should be kind of that person to help them. And that's

Shason Briscoe  39:34  
there's some people out there who don't even see themselves in these roles. And just like seeing someone else be in that role is like massive for them. And if you can go be that person those bursts people go on to being like machine learning engineers are being an engineering manager, our CTO and like if they had never had the exposure they'd never get there. And I think that's why it's like super vital to do as much as we can while also uplifting anyone else along the way. Yeah,

Kimmiko James  40:01  
yeah. And it's it's shown in different ways. Like, you don't always have to do the traditional thing of like going to a middle school or elementary school. Like, I'm not doing that I'm doing it, podcast. I mean, I'm just showing sharing different black stories and tech and which people can learn about the different roles of, you don't always have to be a software engineer to be successful in tech, you can do other things. And you can always see how these people got started, and be like, oh, maybe we're not so different. Or maybe I don't have to be the super smart person. Because, like you said, it's just the misconception of when you see people in tech, you just automatically assume you're not smart enough, or you're not good enough. But when you see people that are like you, and they get past their, their demons, and all these different obstacles, they just uplift you. So it's more than just teaching middle schoolers how to code, it can be shown in different ways, too.

Shason Briscoe  40:51  
Mm hmm. I agree wholeheartedly. And I think that a lot of the time, we don't think about how we can make an impact on people in that way. And that we're just like, focused on like, you know, how we're gonna we get our our rich, can we make our family and like, looking beyond that? It's?

Kimmiko James  41:11  
And I don't know if I want to ask this one or not made it, we'll see. We'll see. Because you said you weren't really doing too much with the community right now. And I don't want to just put you on the spot. But so I believe I will go he told me Well, actually, let me rephrase that now. Kind of like in the middle of this interview, you told me you were doing some kind of light work with Deaf color. And I believe before this interview, even then you said you were kind of doing some diversity work at Survey Monkey. So if you're still doing that kind of work, what does that look like right now.

Shason Briscoe  41:46  
So last summer, we had an issue with a glass summers, as we were all remote, a lot of our E what's called our er G's weren't able to interface directly with our interns much and that was something that we I brought up whenever I was an intern is that we need to have more exposure to the black yard jeans, and other er G's like the LGBT er G's and women in engineering. So we weren't able to properly success like properly assist the black software engineers at Survey Monkey and like, get them the resources they need. So this summer, definitely tried to put on our radar for our black energy, and our new black and technology rd that I helped co found as well, just trying to make sure that people have interns feel present and so young and so malleable, that they're like feeling supported at work. And they have specific questions or personal questions or courses related to the job, they can go to summary judgment for you, and get help from people who look like them. And also just like us giving that foundation of support for from Black Engineers, like help some people want to come back to work at Survey Monkey as well. So that's the work I've been doing. And also, just like, I'm on a death color squad, and like we discussed, we have meetings every week, every month. Not really like much happening there. But that's also just like fun seeing people who work in jobs that mean having, talking about their problems, or work are talking about stuff like you know, things that they've gone through. And like talking through that has been great as well.

Kimmiko James  43:24  
Yeah, thanks for sharing that. And I think the last main question I have would be a lot of the work you've done takes a lot of hard work, dedication and passion to make change. So what do you have any advice for someone that might want to do the same for their communities, but they have no idea how to start or maybe even then they're just too scared to start, which I think is also common.

Shason Briscoe  43:45  
For me, like if you're in a college setting, I think there's definitely like most universities now MSB, or any organization, it is no organization existing, don't make one, start a club, find some other black students that you might have run into. In the night engine engineering, they might be interested in helping start one for Black Engineers are black people who are interested in tech. And just like, you know, start a community somewhere start like getting really informal. You can just like meet up once a quarter, once a month, but it's like, put something into motion. And then hopefully in the future, like he's not the one that wants to like, you know, make it into a big thing. Someone of the future will want to make it into a bigger thing. Try to go to conferences, go to events that support the community. And just like meeting other people, just that helps a whole bunch and giving you personal perspective, you need to help other people. I thought that was a really important step that I took along the way.

Kimmiko James  44:43  
Yeah, Jason, thanks for coming on. sharing your story, sharing lots of horrible advice and just your community influence which I think is super important, but where can people follow you in your journey? If you want to be found

Shason Briscoe  44:58  
they can link They can follow me on LinkedIn. They can follow me on Instagram, Jason Briscoe, and then Jason brisco on LinkedIn as well, but anywhere they want to go, they can find me. They can hit me up, send me a message. I'll try to respond as much as they can.

Kimmiko James  45:17  
And I'll also have all of Jason's information linked on the website as well.

Shason Briscoe  45:21  
Thanks for coming on so much. Kimmiko Thank you so much.

Kimmiko James  45:25  
Join me in the next episode, in which I have a conversation with darious get founder of tesoro AI. Thank you again for listening to this episode of The Black enterprise network podcast. It would be greatly appreciated if you could leave a review on Apple podcast or any platform that has reviews