Kate Martin: [00:00:00]

[00:00:20] Welcome to the apprenticeship.io podcast, where we gather the courageous leaders, the tech industry needs to talk about education, equity, job hunts, hiring in tech and you guessed it apprenticeships, whether you're considering a career switch to tech currently studying or working and leading in tech, we hope to show you stories, ideas, and tactics to inspire you and equip you to make the tech industry, and our future together, a more equitable place for all of us. Let's get to know today's guest.

[00:00:50]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:00:50] Today's guest is Grace Macjones. Grace became a Support E ngineer at Microsoft in February, 2018 after joining cohort 8 of the Microsoft LEAP apprenticeship. Before Microsoft, Grace was a Graphic Designer for Sam Houston State University, where she studied computer science. Grace is the host of the Tech Unlocked podcast where she demystifies building a successful career in tech.

[00:01:12]This episode was recorded in April 2021.

[00:01:14] Welcome to the show, Grace. I'm so excited to have you.

[00:01:18] Grace Macjones: [00:01:18] I know. I'm happy to be here. This is so exciting.

[00:01:21]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:01:21] Our show is all about the different paths that you can take to be successful as a technologist, especially outside of higher education. I was listening to some shows that you've done in the past and how you were born in Nigeria, grew up in Virginia, studied in Texas, now working at Microsoft in Seattle. I'm curious to really dig into the experiences and memories that shaped you as a young person. This is a question that I asked all of our guests when we start, it's a nod to one of my favorite podcasters Krista Tippett from On Being. You can go far and wide with this question. Can you share with us the educational upbringing of your childhood?

[00:02:02]Grace Macjones: [00:02:02] For me growing up in Nigeria, education has always been a huge part of, not just like family, culture wise. Growing up, it was just expected to be good in school. Just because even the teachers have the autonomy of really engaging with how you performed and they're very transparent with your parents. If you were not doing well, they could actually discipline you in school. That was definitely a culture shock when I moved to the United States. It was so different of how education was approached. I definitely loved learning. I loved being challenged. One thing that was always unclear to me was that I didn't have a set career or goal that I wanted to be when I grew up. I always hated the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I was like, I don't really know. I envied people who like, I want to play basketball or I want to do whatever, because I felt like they had an advantage of focusing on that one thing for a long time and becoming an expert. But at the same point, it was for me, an adventure where it's okay, I don't have anything set, so I have the freedom to try new things and not feel pinned down to one particular thing that I wanted to learn, I wanted to do, and thankfully, I didn't really have that pressure from my parents either.

[00:03:09]If you were from Nigeria or Africa in general, it's you can only be three things, doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer, which is actually funny that I turned out to be an engineer. But I definitely appreciated, education and always loved learning as a kid.

[00:03:23]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:03:23] How old were you when you left Nigeria?

[00:03:25]Grace Macjones: [00:03:25] So about 11.

[00:03:26] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:03:26] Oh, so you you have I'm sure tons of memories of growing up there. I noticed your brother also produces his own show and does DEI and education in tech? Is that something that runs in your family? How has your family influenced your journey here?

[00:03:40] Grace Macjones: [00:03:40] I think for us, we're always cognizant or aware of our journey of obviously being a Nigerian American immigrant knowing the struggles of trying to fit in sometimes feel like you're a black, but no black enough we're African but not African enough, because we did go to school in a predominantly white neighborhood. There's a lot of complexities of okay, like I don't want to lose my identity, but if I want to fit in with what's happened, I had to adapt to the cultural norms that are within where I live and obviously the educational system in the United States. For us now, it's more about being open and transparent about our journey, but also showing others how to navigate those nuances of, what if you want to go to college? Like your parents don't go to college here or you don't know anyone who graduated college. What are some things you need to be on the lookout for? How can you apply for scholarships? So just different things that I think now maybe might be common sense, but for us back then, it was hard to navigate through and I do feel like we all have a passion for helping people figure things out. Also keeping their own personality and their own identity, not losing that part of your identity, just to quote unquote, fit into your current environment.

[00:04:54] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:04:54] It sounds like you were very adept at adjusting cultures from a very young age.

[00:05:00]Grace Macjones: [00:05:00] I felt like it had to survive in a sense, because I think for me, high school was very interesting. I went to two different high schools. One of the high schools was a very big high school and I am someone that can be friends with anyone. I'm not really a cliquey person per se, I am a drama free person. That's something I didn't understand about the culture of having like drama. And yeah, no, I love my peace of mind, and so I couldn't belong in some friendships, friends group and things like that. Even culturally, will they understand certain things about my culture? I remember, I think it was an elementary school, people were like, "Oh, like you were from Africa did you live in hutts? Or..." I was like, "wait, what?" We had cars and a nice house, and so seeing how the media also influence how kids learn about other cultures was so interesting to me because I'm like, not everyone in Africa is poor. Having to educate other people is overwhelming and tired sometimes. But I think for me now it's more acknowledging obviously where I've been but also focusing on creating where I want to be, and bringing others along for that journey.

[00:06:05]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:06:05] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. If someone was, let's say, trying to reverse engineer how you got to where you are, what are they missing that's not on social media? What would you want people to know about you and your journey that's not online right now?

[00:06:19]Grace Macjones: [00:06:19] Yeah. Something that I always say is that failure is an option. I know that sounds contrary to what people talk about in an African household, that's like absurd to say. What I mean, like failing forward in a sense, where you're able to try new things and different things until you find what best suits you, because I do feel like sometimes people want to make sure everything is perfect. I graduated with this degree and I get this job and I can do all this things, and it's under a certain amount of time. And truthfully, it's not always like that. Life is a roller coaster.

[00:06:52] It's not usually a straight path. People need to be comfortable with if you don't know what you want to do now, don't be afraid just to take a step. Even if you're not sure what that next step is, take a step. And the more you put your foot in front of each other, the better you're going to be able to find your next path, and that's what helped me to get to where I am today.

[00:07:10]I think sometimes it's easy just to feel stuck. I know that for me, the first time I went to college, I went to a private Christian college cause I got a scholarship, but I ended up dropping out after a while. I think I was studying international relations and it was super expensive.

[00:07:25]I was yo, this is ridiculous. And then I wasn't a hundred percent sure that I would want to use that degree or what that would entail, so I took some time off. I eventually went back to college at a community college, I took a computer science class and at that time was like, "Oh, this is like fascinating," and other classes that I would need to take were on campus. At the time I didn't have a car, so there's all these obstacles. I was like, "okay, I don't know if this is leading to a degree of this or just like random classes," and so I ended up dropping out again.

[00:07:58]It wasn't until I moved to Texas where I was okay, I owe it to myself to figure out what it is that not only challenged me, but I felt like I had a bigger purpose than what I wanted to do in the future. And like I said, it was like trial and error of okay, this doesn't work, this didn't work, so let's try something else. Ultimately I feel like that's a mental model that I've used whenever I feel stuck. What is something that I can try that can open my mind and open opportunities for me to the next thing? That has always helped me in terms of making decisions and moving forward.

[00:08:31]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:08:31] It sounds like you were sometimes dealing with failure and having to figure out the path as you go, but that it's worked out in the end. You would encourage others that if you're in one of those places where failure is something you're dealing with, or you feel like you're not making as much progress as you'd hope, that the journey is longer than just that moment and you'll keep going and find it eventually.

[00:08:58]That's awesome. It sounds like you have a strong ability to have patience and faith with yourself. I find a lot of the non-traditional technologists that I'm chatting with about apprenticeship, they also have nonlinear paths and it comes up quite a lot, dropping out of college and attending community college, things like that is a common theme for a lot of the non-traditional folks.

[00:09:22]I find that a lot of them are processing shame and worry about their future. How do you handle that pressure to have everything figured out? How did you develop the patience and faith in yourself? Are there any habits, practices, things that you do that keep you in that  positive mind space?

[00:09:40]Grace Macjones: [00:09:40] Yeah, that's a great question. I usually would say I consider myself as an optimist. Optimism is not just always being positive all the time, because I do feel like there is toxic positivity that we see sometimes in social media. I'm of the mindset that the future is always bright. Right now might not be great. Right now might be uncomfortable, scary anxious or feeling defeated, and just fully, not enough. I take time to reflect about how far I've come, and even how far my parents have come in terms of like flying all the way to a different country, not knowing anyone, and just putting themselves at risk in order for their kids to have a better education and have a better future.

[00:10:19] I do feel like reflecting on things that, as an individual, you've accomplished can help because that generates gratitude. Not gratitude to feel good about yourself, but gratitude to know that even though things are not great right now, they will be, and to just show yourself that you've gone through things before and things will get better. I know that sounds cheesy, but I feel like oftentimes the most cheesiest things are the most true. When I look back on my career and where I was a few years ago, I would never have imagined myself where I'm at today, but because like I took time to reflect and say I might not know everything I need to do right now, but I do know that these are my core strengths, these are the skills that I have that I want to bring into a company or a team or a project. I can focus on those things instead of focusing on things that maybe I don't have. Those are the ways that I've found patience for myself and giving myself the grace to take time, to reflect, and also to move forward.

[00:11:18]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:11:18] Does that look like anything particular for you? Do you have a day or a journal?

[00:11:24] Grace Macjones: [00:11:24] You talked about journaling. I do feel like journaling is a great way to do that. I personally don't journal as much as I would like. That is a habit that I'm trying to create. It's really tough creating that time. When I do a journal or write out my thoughts in my gratitude is usually like in the mornings.

[00:11:43] Recently I just completed over 365 days of exercise, every day since last April, when the pandemic started. I've learned a lot about having structure. For me in the mornings, when I work out, exercise, it's not just a mindless task. Walks in the morning and weight training at night, and that sense of okay, what is going well? What isn't going well? Because I do feel like the most important conversation that anyone can have is the conversation they have with themselves. And so for me, I pay attention to the thoughts that I have.

[00:12:16] If I have a recurring thoughts about something that's negative, something that's always putting me down then I reflect on that. Hey, why is this the case that I'm thinking about this? Is it because I'm worried? Is it because something at work isn't going well. I try to analyze my thoughts and my feelings. Some people might say I'm in touch with my feelings, but it is true. That helps me navigate what I need to pay attention to because what we pay attention to eventually grows and turns into actions.

[00:12:40]Just being aware of the thoughts that you have and creating time for that to analyze. Why am I thinking this way? What is influencing my thinking? Is it social media, is a movies that I'm consuming, the podcast I'm consuming? Because our thoughts are not just siloed right there. They're very sum total of the things that we consume. As much as I pay attention to my physical diet, also pay attention to my mental diet. I'm making sure that I'm putting things inside of me that are encouraging and things that are uplifting and making that time to definitely reflect.

[00:13:09]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:13:09] That resonates with me so much. I try really hard. I went through my entire Instagram during the pandemic to make sure that I was following people that only bring good light energy into...

[00:13:21] Grace Macjones: [00:13:21] Right!

[00:13:21]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:13:21] ...my consciousness. First of all, the process takes a long time. Second of all...

[00:13:25] Grace Macjones: [00:13:25] Yes.

[00:13:26]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:13:26] It's really hard work these days to really pay attention to where you're getting information from and how it affects how you feel. And you were mentioning, did you just say that you did 365 days of exercise?

[00:13:40]Grace Macjones: [00:13:40] Yeah, so that didn't start off as like I want to work out every day for the next year. Obviously not because that was not me at all. When I say I hate running, I hate all that stuff. Life before the pandemic, I think for a lot of people, you're just on the go a lot, whether that's work, life, family, whatever. When we had news about the virus, the pandemic, and working from home initially back in March 2020, I was just okay, this is crazy. I didn't want to come out from the pandemic with regret, but also I wanted to do something that would give me more strength physically and mentally cause I felt like there was so much uncertainty happening in the world. No one knew when would be out of this and we're still going through it right now. Instead of saying how can I lose weight? Or, how can I, XYZ? It was more about how can I build mental strength? Usually the best way to build mental strength or do anything tough is doing something physical. And so I'm like, Hey, let me just challenge myself, going back to I love being challenged and I'm not competitive, but I love being challenged. And I say, Hey, let me see if I can work out, five days in a week. That's how it started. Thank goodness for my Apple watch, technology to be able to attract my consistency and how I was doing . That has definitely grown into me applying the things that I've learned about myself.

[00:14:59] I know if I don't work out in the morning, I am so like mentally exhausted and I don't have the strength for that. It's helped me have a schedule to be consistent with work or life or family. It just helped a lot of things aligned for me. Now it's more of a habit. I'm not really counting anymore.  I'm not missing any days. It's more of a lifestyle than just something that was just done out of fear.

[00:15:19]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:15:19] This is the stuff that I feel like anytime I'm interviewing somebody who's had an awesome outcome, a lot of folks probably want to work at Microsoft, for example, like there's these hidden behind the scenes habits and abilities. Like to me, when I hear you, it sounds like you have a super power for intrinsic motivation. I get super competitive with other people. It's been really hard for me. I've trained for distance runs like half marathons and it was such a challenging shift to just focus on the things that I can change for myself. I definitely have been very susceptible to comparing myself to others. When I hear you talking about your experiences with exercising, or even just coping and working through your own life changes, it just sounds like you're grounded in this sense of I know who I am and I know that I'm going to end up somewhere that I'll be proud of and you just focus on the process. And when you're chatting about the aspects that relate to your own mind, like your own thoughts, that mindfulness practice, that stuff that I feel like I've only been really deeply exposed to as an adult. But have you always tracked your own thoughts and like really paid attention to that throughout your life? Or is that something that you've started doing more recently?

[00:16:41]Grace Macjones: [00:16:41] I would say it's something that definitely started as an adult. My life is not as simple as the person's next to me. I do my best not to compare my journey with others. Your life is not the same as other people. Your struggle is not the same. Your strengths or ability is so different. The biggest thing that you can do to help yourself is to focus on the things that are within your control, right? I try to be the best me that I can be and try to be the best version of myself, because then the people who are looking for me can find me. That's a quote that I love by Arlin Hammad when of remain yourself, be yourself. So the people that are looking for you can find you and not a cheap version of somebody else.

[00:17:21]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:17:21] Yeah. That resonates with me a lot as well. The idea that you have to reveal and be vulnerable about your reality and the things that you've been through in order for others to find you and connect with you and to become the person or the help that you needed when you were struggling. That's something that comes up all the time when I'm working with folks who are trying to break into tech, is this sense of, I need to cover up my struggle. I need to change who I am in order to be accepted. One of the most rewarding parts of the journey of getting your first couple of roles in the industry is like starting to hopefully pull back the curtain a little bit.

[00:18:03] Once you do have more leverage and more career capital that you can rely on to show others that you're able to do it in ways that people didn't expect. You broke in through the back door, the side door, and there's a door there by the way. So important. I just see so many folks trying to cover up their past histories, especially when they're first breaking in, which I totally empathize with and understand why people do it.

[00:18:28]It's one of my pet peeves, just making sure that others can follow in your footsteps or understand how you got to where you are fully. So related to that, I like was looking into how you found out about the apprenticeship at Microsoft. It was at Grace Hopper conference, which for anybody listening, if you don't know what Grace Hopper conference is, it's the largest tech conference for women in tech in the world.

[00:18:52]I feel like when I was coming out of school, there wasn't a lot of discussion or like tips or tricks about the things that you can actually do to grow your career. Are there any other like tactics and habits that have helped you grow your career that you would recommend to others?

[00:19:07]Grace Macjones: [00:19:07] Yeah. The whole Grace Hopper situation was one of those things that came out of a conversation, right? Because I felt like in college, senior year, I was just.. " Oh shoot, I'm almost done with this degree, and I have no clue of what I want to do with it." Because at that time I didn't have anyone in my family who had graduated college in the U.S. and was working in corporate America or anything like that. Most of my professors were not helpful at all. I didn't have any Black professors or even people of color. For me, something that helped is just putting yourself out there. This is particularly really hard, as an introvert, but you don't know what's out there until you look until you try, you don't know what your options are.

[00:19:52]I would go to this events, to not what would call as networking, but really to just do research. In 2021, we're still in a pandemic, so there's not a lot of in-person meetups and events, but even online going to events about either the person's career or even the company. And so that's a great way to have an experience of okay, is this something that my aligned with something that I'm curious about?

[00:20:15] And then reaching out to people, right? Whether you look up to them on LinkedIn something that I've done in the past honestly, is let's say, someone's listening to this episode, right? I say, Hey I think I really like Grace's story and then look me up and send me a message. I'm definitely more open to respond because I know that person took time to listen to this podcast, invested their time. You be surprised about how much open people are to talking and engaging with folks that they might not know, but they want to help. The magic also is in the follow-up. If the person doesn't respond to you in the first try, definitely follow up with them after a week or so, because I can tell you probably their inbox is pretty much cluttered and completely forgot or they were on vacation. We don't talk about this enough, I think the traditional way of cold applying it's wearing out because everything is just relationship based and content based. Start creating content.

[00:21:04] If you're interested in AI, maybe robotics or even computer vision, put that stuff on your LinkedIn, on your Twitter, like talk about it. So then when a recruiter is coming to your page, they can say, Oh, this person has a core passion for XYZ, and instantly it can help you stick out from a lot of candidates.

[00:21:21]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:21:21] It's so true. As a career coach, that's the number one thing that I feel like I have to just repeat over and over again for folks is like the job market is so relationship driven and it just doesn't change no matter what the technology is of the day. Who you know is still gonna really make a big difference, and luckily we have all of these different tools and things that we can use to build communities based on interests and based on what we can offer. Another thing that I see come up for non-traditional technologists is the idea that the way that they experienced their work or their craft is super different than the way that it's portrayed in the media.

[00:22:03]As we welcome more and more folks into technology from different backgrounds, that's going to just be the new normal. It's not just some white dude coding in a basement. It's a very different experience for different people. And so I was curious to see from you if you were going to describe like the work of cloud engineering day to day how would you describe it in like metaphors or comparisons to stuff people experience?

[00:22:30]Grace Macjones: [00:22:30] Yeah. Every company is different and every team is different. For me, it's like putting out fires every day because we focus on our customers and making sure that they're unblocked and you're able to have the experience while using Azure. When I started working full-time at Microsoft, I just felt like I had to know it all, which is so dumb looking back now, cause I was so new to everything, and obviously my team knew I was new to all of this.

[00:23:00]When you're the only one, at the time I was the only black woman on my team, and I was "Oh my gosh, like out to represent all of us," which is not true. But at the same time, I was you know what, like I'm early in career. I want to learn, I want to grow. I just literally should have asked them a lot of questions. I don't care if people think that I should know this or not, which was not the case. But I think that opened me, that helped me in terms of being very good at what I do.

[00:23:26]But also showing them that I was willing to do whatever it takes to learn on the job, because I do feel like some people feel definitely insecure that imposter syndrome of " Oh my gosh, like I'm not supposed to be here, I'm not good enough." Everyone is just trying to figure it out, even the people who you feel like are a genius. By having that growth mindset, I can be able to adapt and grow whatever level that I'm in, whatever job, whatever title, whatever role. That's something that has helped me as an individual, even when I feel like I'm the least represented in that demographic or in that team. I always look at it from a perspective of there's definitely room for me to grow.

[00:24:02]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:24:02] I think a lot of people are going to empathize with being the first or first and only on their teams. Did you know when you were applying to Microsoft that you wanted to do cloud engineering?

[00:24:12]Grace Macjones: [00:24:12] I didn't know. I didn't take a cloud engineering class. There wasn't a breadth of information of what that looked like. And so for me, I was like, Hey I don't know, cloud space in particular, but I do know other spaces within the tech world. Willingness to grow and willingness to learn really helped me. I felt like I was at a disadvantage of not knowing what Azure was. It was exciting. Like anytime I'm faced with something that is unfamiliar, I'm excited because this is something new that I could learn in that I can grow in.

[00:24:42]This is a new frontier in terms of cloud computing and seeing everything about even streaming looking at all the big companies, trying to make sure that their data is safe, secure, fast, reliable. This is a great space to be in right now. I came at it with that excitement.

[00:24:57]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:24:57] Yeah, totally. I'll expose my ignorance and just admit that when I think about cloud engineering as a field, there's not very much there for me. Like what does it look like? How does it feel? When I think about cloud engineering as a career path, for example, I'm not even I can't say for certain that I know what it looks like, or what your day to day is, which for the record, I should listen to the Tech Unlocked episode, because this is exactly what it's for. But what is your day to day look like and what are you working on?

[00:25:30]Grace Macjones: [00:25:30] For my team we focus on community. So if you are familiar with Stack Overflow, GitHub, basically developer driven communities, we focus on those communities. You still help developers than anyone on those platforms thrive while using Azure products. Any given day, we can have a customer who's having issues deploying their web app or their VM, which is a virtual machine.

[00:25:52]Our job is to definitely help them on unblock it, whether that's going through their code, writing scripts on engaging with the product group and saying Hey. There was a bug with a portal UI, or there's a bug with this particular product that a customer is using and help them get unblocked from that situation.

[00:26:08]Ultimately turning them into fans of the product and not just customers. Any given day, it's just either engaging with those customers, being in meetings with the product group, and talking about roadmap of Hey, will this feature be available? We've had a lot of people request it, to talking about different ways that we can engage with customers to improve your experience online and through support.

[00:26:30]Every day looks a bit different based on the situation or the complexity of the problems that we're working with.

[00:26:36]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:26:36] So awesome, cause it's exactly the opposite of what a lot of the stereotypes are in terms of it sounds like you're working with a lot of people. It sounds like you're communicating all the time. It sounds like you're solving problems for others often. That's something that drives so many people in their careers. I want to be helpful. I want to feel like what I do improves the lives of others. What you just described to me sounds like a career where that's very top of mind, day to day is like helping people with Azure.

[00:27:03]Grace Macjones: [00:27:03] Any given day you can get a customer saying Hey, I'm trying to do this in a location. That's maybe in a different region in a different part of the world. And I'm like, Oh, so you can do that. You get scenarios of what customers are using the product for, and I'm just like sometimes blown away by the scenarios of how people were using the cloud space or Azure, the product to create and sell for their businesses.

[00:27:25]Being able to express technical solutions in such a simplified way. Something that I've learned where it's you might have a solution and you might have the code sample, but it's like, how do I break it down so that this person can understand it? I think for me early on, that was like a fear that I had. You're posting the solutions right online. It's Microsoft and my name on here, but being able to talk to my teammates and collaborate and say, Hey, what is the best possible solution for the customer and how can we break it down in a way that any user who comes after them can understand what we're talking about? For me that has been a skill that I didn't know was something that I needed or wanted to learn, but something that's always going to be useful for anyone in the tech space, being able to break deeply technical problems into a format that is consumable to anyone or to the average person. If you have that skill that's something that's definitely marketable because sometimes engineers are so engulfed in what they do.

[00:28:21]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:28:21] It's such an admirable trait in colleagues. I also noticed that you've done a lot of high profile speaking engagements at Microsoft and you're actively participating in these podcast interviews and producing your own show. I've just noticed that you've really stepped confidently into a lot of high-profile tech industry work from early on in your career. How do you deal with performance anxiety? Some of these situations like, I can be very honest, I was like feeling combination of dread and anxiety for today, because I totally understand why people don't volunteer to do this because it's so scary, extra worry to take on. I'm curious if you have any rituals, any like things that you do to cope with performance anxiety?

[00:29:12] Grace Macjones: [00:29:12] Yeah, those are great questions. I just figured that if I just sat at home by myself and wished for people to come to me, they won't or opportunities to come to me like it wasn't going to happen.

[00:29:25]We're based in the United States and it's easier to access people. I definitely have platform in a sense, when I reach out to people, they see my name and my company, and they may be more prone to respond, but it's different for other folks. I try to figure out what am I trying to learn? What am I trying to gain? Something has been a force of doing all this things is that I want to help other people. Knowing that people of color and people who are a fresh first gen immigrants and things like that have a hard time navigating, not just only the tech world, but the corporate world. I want to navigate this and make it through, but not just from my own self, but because I know there are others who are trying to figure this out. If I have to suffer and go through something, then somebody else doesn't have to go through all that because I can share with them my knowledge.

[00:30:11]That's something I always have in the back of my mind, and even with launching the podcast. I just felt like I didn't really have much to say, but I wanted to help a lot of people because when I did go to speak at universities or events, it was like getting the same questions from people of color, a woman of color. How does it feel to be a black woman working at Microsoft? How did you get there? Are there any struggles that you face? It's just responding on this one off emails or LinkedIn messages, and creating a a platform where I can actually talk about this issues. It took me almost a year to actually watch the podcast because I was facing this performance anxiety or whatever it took to actually talk to folks who were much more further in their career.

[00:30:51]But at a certain point, I'm just like, okay, it really isn't about me. I had to get myself out of my head. 'Stop focusing on yourself'. You're not all that important and focused on people that you're trying to help. That kind of gave me the courage to do it because I do feel like With whatever content I put out, very, yes, it might not be like a million people responding, but it might help just one person and that's worth all the anxiety or even the preparation that I had to go through, if it helps one person.

[00:31:19] And ultimately I think you said earlier, like creating something that I wish existed. I still have performance anxiety but I think for me is to obviously come prepared and knowing that, whatever I'm doing, it's not just for myself, but it's to open the door for others.

[00:31:33]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:31:33] Yeah. Oh man. So real. I'll add that I sat atop this show for like almost three years, just not sure if I should put them out into the world or like how to build this organization. The idea that it just happens overnight is pervasive, especially in American culture, but the reality is that you can't force these things to happen quickly. That's one of the great things that I've learned from podcasting is just letting things manifest and take their time. It's just a process. You have to just keep at it and like you're exercising, honestly, like just do a little bit every day and turn into a habit and it'll feel better. But yeah, I wanted to just be honest with folks that I still feel a lot of performance anxiety. This stuff is hard. And the thing that you said about finding the people that you advocate for, finding what drives you that's something out of love for others. That resonates so much for me. The thing that got me through the three years that I've spent working on this is the quote the true soldier fights. Oh, my God. I'm going to totally blow my favorite quote. Good soldier fights not because they hate what's in front of them, but because they love what's behind them. Figuring out who I love that's behind me is I think what you are after early on in your career. What story can I tell? Who can I represent for that I can do with love and with deep devotion and care? And then once you are able to figure that out, you're in pretty good shape, but it's still terrifying.

[00:33:10]Grace Macjones: [00:33:10] Yeah, it's definitely hard. I don't think the road gets easier. I just think that you get stronger and you build more resilience. The more you go through the process of refining your voice and who you are, the stronger you become. I don't think there's a point where you feel like, Oh, I've made it. Even when I talked to folks who have been at the company for 20 years or more there's a full Oh my gosh, there's so much to learn.

[00:33:33]There's so much to do and not in a dreadful sense, but because we live in, we work in a fast paced industry where things are changing month to month. If you're not, adaptable, if you hate change, tech might not be it for you, and not trying to exclude people, but I'm like, things change so fast that you just have to be in mindset of  I'm willing to adapt and grow in a way that you feel like it's beneficial to you and not overwhelming and dreadful.

[00:34:01] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:34:01] That's one of the big things working in tech is embracing change and growth mindset. So crucial. Where do you see yourself going from here? What are your dreams now?

[00:34:13]Grace Macjones: [00:34:13] Oh, man, that's a question that I often have a hard time answering. I think for me, definitely with, My podcast, first of all, is growing that and create and give back more. Earlier this year, I was able to give out scholarships to black students studying computer science. I just want to amplify that more because the pandemic really did a number on students, especially international students. It's great to give information and resources, but it's also great to give financial support, because that makes a difference in how a student can focus on their studies and not worry about their bills.

[00:34:52] I'm still at the stage where I am definitely open. There are a couple of fields that have picked my interest in terms of learning more about AI, especially responsible AI, quantum computing and how that is going to definitely affect everything that we do. I'm just so excited about that. But even looking into that, I don't want to go back to school and get my PhD though, but there's just so many exciting things that I think I would want to shift into, but right now, I'm just keeping my eyes open in terms of the possibility.

[00:35:21]It's okay Not to have that stuff figured out. I know. Sometimes we would feel like we definitely have to have that five-year plan or ten-year plan. It's also cool to keep yourself open into for new opportunities and adventure. I'm just open to a lot of things in terms of learning and exploring before I make that decision. That's what future Grace looks like right now.

[00:35:42] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:35:42] I love it. What future grease looks like right now.

[00:35:45]Grace Macjones: [00:35:45] It might change tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

[00:35:48] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:35:48] Yeah. That's awesome. This has been amazing, grace, thank you so much for your time, and I really enjoyed this conversation a lot.

[00:35:56]Grace Macjones: [00:35:56] Yes. Thank you so much for creating a platform for people like me to share our stories and I just hope that this has been encouraging to others. I appreciate you and everything you're doing for this community.

[00:36:07]Kate Martin: [00:36:07] Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the apprenticeship.io podcast. You can learn more about apprenticeships and find us online at www.apprenticeship.io. Don't forget to follow us on Spotify, and subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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[00:36:33] Until next time, we're rooting for you.