How Brilliant Black Minds and the power of practice changed my career trajectory
My name is Darius Faison, and I’m a senior at Morehouse College graduating this spring. I’ll be starting as a software engineer at Microsoft this summer in Atlanta, Georgia. But trust me, my journey wasn’t at all linear. This is my story about the power of practice and Brilliant Black Minds.
Growing up, I was always drawn to video games and computers. Since I was four or five, I’d play PlayStation games and imagine myself growing up to become a video game developer. However, I didn’t know very many software engineers, let alone any Black software engineers. Still, I felt so connected to the game and wanted to bring the same joy that I felt while playing to others.
My earliest memory of coding was when I built a website during a summer camp. Technically, it wasn’t coding because I was working with HTML/CSS but it was close enough to get me more excited about a future as a coder. In my senior year of high school, I ended up landing an internship with NSA learning cybersecurity and that truly reaffirmed my belief that I wanted to become a software engineer.
It was my freshman year at Morehouse when I hit my first roadblock. I noticed that some of my peers had secured internships that summer, but I didn’t. Instead, I went from an enriching summer of working with NSA to working at Texas Roadhouse the summer of my Freshman year. It felt like a major step back. And honestly, I didn’t even attempt applying to software engineering internship roles because I wasn’t comfortable interviewing.
I first heard about the Brilliant Black Minds program in the beginning of my sophomore year. Two Karateers, Ms. Portia Kibble Smith and Lusen Mendel, came to our Morehouse computer science class to demo a live mock interview. I had been preparing for an internship that semester and knew I needed to practice. I felt the pressure of making up for lost time compared to my classmates who had that extra resume line.
Both Ms. Portia and Lus were very friendly and really showed me the impact of practicing and the importance of feedback. I’d also quickly realized that interviewing required a much different skill set and it was then that I knew I wasn’t prepared for my first interview.
In hindsight, that workshop changed the trajectory of my life.
The value of practice & community
After meeting with Ms. Portia and Lus, I joined the Brilliant Black Minds program and was introduced to a community of Morehouse and Howard University candidates- all of which had the same goal of becoming software engineers. The connections that I’ve made with our other engineers, including guest speakers from across the industry and the Interview Engineers who are rooting for me, has been the best part of my experience. These practice interviews helped me become more comfortable and identify my weaknesses before it was time for the real thing.
That school year, I continued taking practice interviews and landed my first role as an Intern at Google. I went from not having an internship the previous year to landing my first role at a FAANG company. That’s a feeling that I’ll never forget. It got easier from then on. I interned at Microsoft my junior year and then was called back for a full-time role after my senior year.
When I got that acceptance offer from Microsoft for a full-time position, I felt an immense wave of financial security and that I was finally able to control my future. My family and my friends were all incredibly excited for me because they knew how much I’d practiced and persevered to get to this moment.
Looking back now, I’d never made it this far if I didn’t have people who believed in me and a program that made sure I had the access to practice, and networks that would help me succeed. The Brilliant Black Minds program provided the blueprint to be hired at companies like Google and Microsoft, places that my five-year-old self couldn’t imagine.
If you’re a Black engineer that doesn’t feel confident about succeeding in a technical interview, or if you feel like you’re not really sure what to expect, or if you just want to have access to Black engineers from across the industry, this is the place for you.
And if you feel like you’re not good enough or had a couple setbacks- take it from me; I went from interning at the NSA to working at Texas Roadhouse to interning at Google and then landed a full-time role at Microsoft. And if I could do it, so can you.
Learn more about the program and sign up here.
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