Building a Robotics Career and the Impact of Mentorship with Camille Eddy (S7E8)

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Camille EddyAs a young aspiring astronaut in high school, Camille Eddy started building websites to pay for her college housing.

She’s a first-generation STEM student, and through the connections she made in college, Camille was hired for an internship at HP. That exposure helped her cultivate a personal brand on top of her academic life, and through the support of key mentors, her career has continued to grow.

Today, Camille is a robotics and product engineer who speaks internationally about inclusion in the tech community. She does research primarily on cultural bias and AI, and she currently works for a company called Bloc. She volunteers for nonprofit STEM outreach and previously interned in Mechanical Engineering and Robotics for HP, Google X and NVIDIA. 

In this episode, Camille talks about how she got into robotics, her mentors’ role in her career, the importance of advocating for women and Black women in tech, and how to get internships without applying.

This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.

Laurence Bradford 0:08
Hey y'all, welcome to the final episode of the seventh season of the Learn to Code With Me Podcast. I'm your host, Laurence Bradford. In today's interview, I chat with someone who interned at Google, HP and NASA. Oh, all before finishing college. All that is coming up after a quick word from this episode's partner.

Interview cake is an online resource that helps you prep for interviews so you can land your dream job in tech. To find out more and get 20% off go to learntocodewith.me/cake. Again, the URL is learntocodewith.me/cake

And we're back. In today's episode I talk with Camille Eddy. Camille is a robotics and product engineer from Boise, Idaho who has such an impressive career, and she hasn't even finished college yet. The reason why I reached out to Camille is because I love her story. She's a first generation stem student who started her own web development business in high school to pay for her University Housing. Since then, she's worked on advanced robotics projects for HP, Google X and other companies in Silicon Valley. Again, all this before even having a degree in her hand. And that's what we're going to be talking about today. How Camille became a robotics engineer before getting her college degree, the role mentors have played in her career so far, and how she has actually never applied to a job in tech or an internship and her secret to gain those jobs. And we talked about so much more. All right. I hope you liked this conversation as much as I did. Enjoy.

Hey, Camille, Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Camille Eddy 2:02
Thank you for having me.

Laurence Bradford 2:03
I'm really excited to chat with you today and about your career. And I just want to have you introduce yourself to start things off and like just the gist of who you are and what you're doing today. Yeah,

Camille Eddy 2:15
so my name is Camille. Eddie, I'm a mechanical engineer, grew up in Idaho. So my family's in Boise. I've been just going around learning more about robotics, as well as product engineering, ethical AI and design and been able to share my journey with a lot of students and a lot of people across the world. I've spoken internationally. And then I also try to get back to my peers, I believe in peer to peer coaching. And so I invest heavily in that as well.

Laurence Bradford 2:45
How did you first get into technology slash robotics? Like what was your entry point?

Camille Eddy 2:52
Yeah, my entry point was definitely mechanical engineering. So that was the degree I got in school. And the way I got started with that was, I was To be an astronaut. And so my first couple of years in college, I was in space science a lot. I did research for NASA. I went to NASA multiple times I went to Space Camp when I was in high school, I was the person on campus that was, you know, getting go to space. And then I had my first internship. And I started to realize that there's a little bit more than just wanting to be an astronaut, you know, even to use their pathway to be an astronaut, you have to be the best in your field.

So then I started thinking, Well, what field is that going to be for me? So when I got my first internship in robotics, it really exposed to me, the industry level. And outside of the academic experience, I just had never seen that. And it allowed me to explore some strengths I didn't know I had like in design, and systems engineering. It just allowed me to look a little further and I always like to say kudos to good managers because I had great managers, my first internship and my second internship and so on, that identified my struggle allowed me to just take off, you know, and do what I needed to do.

Laurence Bradford 4:04
That's awesome. And, like, I'm sort of backtracking a bit. But I told you before the interview for start recording that I really don't talk about robotics, actually, maybe never on the podcast, and we have like, 100 and, you know, 30 episodes now, could you just give like, when I just think of the term robot, I just think of like,

Unknown Speaker 4:25
the, like the

Laurence Bradford 4:29
Yeah, I think of what the metal or like, the robots have seen the news in Japan, like, you know, like, Oh, this or the dog robot? Could you just explain a bit about like, what the field of robotics looks like in his?

Camille Eddy 4:41
Yeah, so a lot of the popular robots that you probably have seen in the news, they're based off of being able to have a robot that's walking or very intelligent and robots are not there. Robots are mechanical pieces, you know, of junk until you put something into them. Right. And so uh, yeah, You'll see walking robots and sea dog robots, you'll see the facial expression robots, you know, that are supposed to emulate woman in some way. And those are guests, they're definitely hardware involved. And that can be very complicated. But what drives those is AI and the programming and the software behind it. And so in order for us to even get to that point, we're gonna need a lot more development. We're really not there yet. Yes, we have some degree of walking robots, but it's not a ubiquitous technology that you can just plug and play from being in some of my robotics internships, I definitely got the feel that understanding the field of robotics is also looking at what it's not doing and what people are trying to do. And you'll see some, you know, articles here and there about who does this robot really do what the company that made it says it does, you know, it's like, Is it is it real?

And, and that's true for a lot of the more advanced robots that you might be thinking of, so you have to start small if you were a robotics intern. at a company, they most likely would have a narrow field for you. So for me, when I was doing my robotics internships, I always had very narrow fields, where it was like maybe just mapping, getting a robot to be able to understand its location and navigate on its own, or it just being able to see and being with identify objects, like, there's usually a very narrow field when you go into robotics. And so you think of vision, perception, you think autonomy, so being able to navigate on itself, and that doesn't have to be on legs, it can be on wheels, and then also just some of the use cases. So not all robots are meant to do the same thing. Some just look pretty. And some just look, you know, they just walk and that's all they do, and there's no real application. And then there are other areas of interest where it's like, how do we create an office robot that delivers prints to you so you don't have to get up? Or how do you do a telepresence robot so that someone can come into an office remotely, but they can't get through the door How do they get to the door on their own? Do they always need someone to open the door for them? So those are some of the branches that you can go on and what anybody who's interested in robotics as an idea, just start going down the list of how would they do this? How would they do that? And then you'll kind of see how much further we have to go

Laurence Bradford 7:22
the one of the things this is kind of unrelated but related to robotics that I think is really neat in house see this like in TV shows and whatever is how schools now have like robotics teams like high schools and middle schools I imagine as well. And I didn't have that when I was growing up at least where I went to school but I was actually literally think he was like a day or two ago probably cuz we were chatting before getting you on. I was like, when I hopefully, you know, kids one day, I definitely want them to be on like the robotics team that's so cool, like after high school if they if they have one. So it's just it's really fascinating, like how this field has just evolved and I'm going to rewind a little bit to something thing in your past that I really want to talk about before we get too far ahead. And that is how you correct me if this is not, this is not accurate, but we were, you know, reading your background prepping for the show.

And we saw that you started your own web design business at age 17 to help pay for your University Housing. So could you talk about that a little bit? Because first of all, when I was 17, I never would have even like, had the thought to do that. Like I was, I don't know what, you know, going to the mall or something. So it's like so awesome that you were so I'm trying to think of the right word. Like you went out there and you like any like major away, you know, whatever the word is for that. Yeah. How did you get into that?

Camille Eddy 8:38
Yeah, so credit to my mom. So I was homeschooled for 12 years. So from beginning to end, I was homeschooled. And in my off time when I would be doing is writing blogs and eventually started building my website. So that started when I was 12. And so by the time I was 17, I had five years of in web development experience and my goal is Was I wanted to have a first job that was in food service like that was my goal. And so I started shipping out, resumes, start talking to my bus drivers say, Hey, can I make your website for you? And because I didn't have a lot of experience, obviously, you know, got rebuffed quite a few times. But I landed, and this was back in the day when Craigslist was not as dangerous.

But I landed a job off of Craigslist, that was a local woman, and she was starting a design firm, and she didn't need like this super experience, and obviously not super professional because I was still learning. You know, web developers, you just needed someone to do what you needed them to do, you know, in that moment at the right time. And so, I started there, got my first professional experience, probably when I was 16 or 17. And then, by the time I got to college, I had made enough strides and now Working in such that I was able to keep a regular appointments and keep regular clients. And so yeah, that funded my housing for the first year. And it was, it was interesting because then after a while I shifted really into mechanical engineering But even now what I'm doing now, you know, especially my pandemic is I'm helping people bring educational websites online, and I'm back to developing websites. So it was like a skill that never really went out of Vogue. Yeah.

Laurence Bradford 10:31
Okay, that's so cool because I actually got my first job on Craigslist to like my first my first tech job. It wasn't my first job ever. I did start out in food service Actually, my like, my first first job was, I think, a hostess at a restaurant and then I was a lifeguard So back in you know, high school, but much later for than that I got my first job on Craigslist for a small little web development position. I love Craigslist, and I tell people still I'm like, Especially I don't know, I'm just to give like the New York area like, because I've gone on recently just to like, see what's on there.

And there's like some really cool stuff still in like the gig section. I mean, some of it is definitely really sketchy. I've seen some really sketchy things don't don't care. It's probably good. I mean, actually, as a high schooler to be looking for jobs on there. That is kind of I don't know, because there is a lot on there that is adult as adult. So kudos to you. But that's so neat that you were doing web design web development at such a young age, if you don't mind. I don't try to have guests talk about their age, but I would love to know what what year was that that you were building these websites and writing these blogs when you're being homeschooled, and then you you know, got your first class teen.

Camille Eddy 11:45
So I graduated high school at 2012. And so yeah, from I would say my business probably ran from like 2011 through 2014. That's like when I was doing that. Yeah, cool.

Laurence Bradford 12:03
So funny. Funny enough I mean even even age difference but I think my when I first got my first job on Craigslist would have not been too long after you then just the way that it all worked out. Yeah. So, so yeah, cuz I was thinking for a second I was like wait could that have been like I don't know when Craig Craigslist has been around for a while, right like a while ago? I don't know anyhow getting off track here but Okay, so then you went to school and you went to college studied mechanical engineering got into robotics? Yep, let me see here. So what year did you graduate college then? And like, what did that look like after college? Because you mentioned you had a bunch of these internships like you want to be an astronaut. When did that sort of shift from like, not so much becoming an astronaut to getting into the to the field of robotics? Yeah.

Camille Eddy 12:48
And so this is a definitely a deeper conversation. So feel free to interrupt me and you know, dig deeper. So I have a very non traditional college experience even when I went to my first time And I eventually transfer but I went to my first school. That's where the space science took off. That's where my internships took off. But after that first internship and this was at HP, I was able to do a really great job right I got the a robotics hand, a robotic hand that was visually controlled by camera working. And the way it worked is if you put your hand in front of a 3d camera, the robotic camera would mimic your movements, and it would mimic your hand movements. And what happened was the CTO of HP came to see the robotics workshop program at HP invoicing, and invited me to then go do another internship for HP in Palo Alto at headquarters.

So that was the beginning of my Silicon Valley internships. And that was something I always wanted to do. I always wanted to be a Silicon Valley intern. I wanted to go to San Francisco and see what it was like. So after that, my academic life and my professional life start diverging in a huge way. So I was able to To start not, let's say relying on my student cloud or the cloud of my school, I had my own personal brand that I had to manage, and that things are coming to my personal email, things are coming to my attention, not necessarily attention to like my Dean or, you know, someone that would work on my behalf. And so that was a huge shift. And then that's also where the space science kind of started phasing out. Not in a real way, I still am very much a space geek. But that's where I start realizing I do need to pay attention to where I'm being led, because that if I'm going to be an astronaut one day, I need to have a focus. And so after a while, though, there was also you know, we have a lot of conversations right now around racial justice and things like that. But where I was it was a particular issue for my peer group. And we needed the activism to just stay alive and to stay afloat and to feel like we belonged.

And that's when I start to realize that my college fit wasn't active. Exactly as seamless as I thought it was. And you know, it was really hard but also very rewarding because that last year that I was there before I transferred, I got to see some really cool things come together with my leadership group. We created inclusive excellence council that really changed the conversation in a tonal conversation on campus. But after that, I was really burnt out. I was so burnt out, I was burnt up from being a student activists and then also trying to keep up with the diverging academics and professional life. So I took a gap year and worked in California for over a year, got to internet, Google got internet, Nvidia, and I just stayed out there. I had very long internships obviously. So my longest was two years of it as an intern. And during that gap year, I applied to a bunch of other schools and I was like, I'm gonna change it up if, if it's gonna take me two years to graduate.

And I thought time I had spent four years at that school, and they were like, you're not ready. graduated, I was like, okay, so I need to change this up, I need to be my own advocate here. And I transferred schools 300 miles north still in Idaho went to University of Idaho. And so that was like over seven year period. So I am actually about to literally finish in a month in 30 days, I'll be actually with my piece of paper and an ad here. But it's, it's really crazy, too, because it was almost as if having those four years at one school didn't deter me from starting my career. And so I got my career started. Everybody always knew like where I was at, but it was it was nice, but interesting to see how much I diverge even from the going wisdom of how do you go about doing a degree in four years, but I mean, I completely shot that up. It was like, No, I gotta do something else. I gotta do it. I need to do

Laurence Bradford 16:51
that. So that's like, that's so awesome. And I'm so glad that we're happy. I didn't even honestly realize like this full side of your story. Until right now that I'm already talking to you. But this is really great because I love having people with like different education experiences. And it just shows that like, yeah, you can take a lot of time off and go back and finish your degree or hack. I've had a guest on the show where I know people who left school and just never went back and they're doing fine. I mean, they're working in tech now they're, you know, moving ahead in their career, maybe they'll go back one day, I guess credits only stay active for so long or what have you.

But oh, and congratulations on graduating in like a month also. Oh my goodness. Now we have the pandemic, right. That happened obviously, a few months ago at this point, but that must have really been such a shift. I imagine in like your studies, if you were going to campus every day or going to in person classes and then you know being fully remote unless you guys are still going to school. I guess it's different in every state, right?

Camille Eddy 17:48
We're definitely fully remote but what it brought me back to was homeschooling, I was like, Ooh, I'm back to being homeschool. This is awesome. This is legit and not having to like waste time. I dug really deep back into my homeschooling skills of organizing content, being able to take a better responsibility for what the work I was doing. That was a real struggle. My first year in college was so different from what I thought it was, because I was used to getting taught by my mom. And I was getting used to personalize learning. And I was used to like the time to like do a web design business on the side. And all of that went away. And so it was a struggle of my first couple of years to just acclimate to essentially public school right for me, and going back to like, having the end of my college career ended up with homeschooling is so ironic, isn't it? So?

Laurence Bradford 18:44
Yeah, that's in what is your actual like degree that you're finishing up? Is it mechanical engineering? Yep. Mechanical Engineering. Okay, awesome. And I know from cuz I have actually one of my best friends from childhood, got her college degree in mechanical engineering and something else I think in it She always said how hard it was like she always said, How How many kids started off, I guess on the first day in the major and how few were left by the end or by graduation and how like, she was like, no one can do this in four years, like, has she I think it took her five years to finish. But I'm jumping around here quite a lot. And you talked about your on campus activism. And I don't have like the statistics or the numbers in front of me, but from what I know, from talking to her, and just from like other observances I've had over the years, I feel like robotics, ai mechanical engineering would have really few women like even less than like software engineering, perhaps and like, like percentages wise, and I would imagine even less people of color. Is that like, yeah, like your experience?

Camille Eddy 19:50
Yeah. I like how you drill down on that because there are plenty I mean, there's enough woman that I can say yes, there are women but there are no Black women and there are no Black people. I am the only Black person I've seen in any of my classes since coming here. And even the same when I was at my law school, mechanical engineering specifically, was not a path that was introduced to Black students in my community. Right? So I'm not saying there's no Black mechanical engineers, there's plenty. You can go to National Society of Black Engineers and go to a conference just to find them and be like up. There's a mechanical, there's a mechanical, but I think it also has to do with where you growing up and the resources that people put in your community and for the Black community in Idaho, that is not their engineering. It's not a pathway, that is if we're exposed to and it was close to my mom for looking at me hearing what I had to say when I was 12 1516 saying she wants to be an engineer. So let's go find the engineering outreach for high school students at the local campus. And so she plugged me in and I started networking.

And so if I hadn't done all that networking, and my mom had it been good at taking me places, making me have prototyping discussions with astronauts, and with educational professionals about getting a degree in mechanical engineering, I probably wouldn't have had the resilience and the persistence to see it through. And even especially after I left my first school, my mom, I was on the phone with my mom say, Mom, I'm thinking about leaving. And she was saying, Camille, you really don't have to worry about ever getting a job. Don't even worry about it. And sure enough, right after, like, literally a week or so after I hung up with her, I had a job offer. And so I didn't have to necessarily come back or wasn't a say ready to come back.

But I also knew that there was a time ticking. There's a clock ticking on my credit. And I was like, I do need the cloud as a woman of color. I can't just be out here trying to do engineering as a Black woman and think that people are going to take me seriously. Not necessarily because, you know, people don't want to take me seriously but because that's our society and that's, that's where we live right now. So I was like, I need to actively pursuing getting my degree finished. And when I came up to University of Idaho, I found that college but that I had been missing. I was also a little different. You know, I had grown up a little bit more had seen some things I had been told work. Having some of that professional experience really helped me understand why academics taught me the way it taught me why there was a need for robustness to my degree. And so when I got back into school, it was a much different experience a much different feel. And I had better peer relationships. And I had an understanding that the people here were really invested in seeing me succeed. And then the lack of success was not just going to be reflection on me, they felt it was going to be a reflection on them. And I felt like that was really helpful in actually getting me to a finish line. So yeah,

Laurence Bradford 22:50
yeah. Wow. Amazing. And another like thing that I take away from your story is just you talking about your mom and how she like really pushed you and plugged you in at a young age. I don't have children yet. And I don't. I honestly, I had a very different travel experience where I wasn't plugged in early I got into tech later in life as listeners of the show. No, I don't need to rehash my whole story now. But I think that's just like amazing. Like, just like the role, obviously, the role parents can have on their child. It's such an obvious statement, but it's like, just with you like in your career and those like early touch points and how it's impacted you, you know, many years later, and I have people write to me a lot about who have children and are like, hey, like, what recommendations do you have for helping my kids learn to code and you know, they could be various ages. And I never really know what to say just because like, again, I didn't have experience growing up. I don't have kids now. But I feel like what your mom did with you like, I'm assuming she wasn't, I mean, what was she in tech at all? Actually, no,

Camille Eddy 23:53
no, she was a business person and a musical person.

Laurence Bradford 23:57
Yeah. And that's awesome that she likes encourage you to follow what you showed interest in and I think he said she brought you to like different events and stuff while you were still in high school.

Camille Eddy 24:07
Yes. So I like to say to people, I'm not a first generation college student, but I'm a first generation stem student. And yeah, my mom, we had just moved to Boise. And I was, I was about to start high school, I was like a freshman. And we moved to Boise in like August, and October. She was like, we're going to an event on campus. And I was like, What? And she's like, yeah, we're going, I don't want to go, I don't want to go meet new people. And she's like, We're going, and we go, and it's a college planning party for high school students in the College of Engineering. So it's specifically to, you know, my interest. And that's when I learned about all the different types of engineering because I had never heard of those before. I didn't know there was a mechanical engineering. I just knew that I didn't want to do chemistry. I knew I wasn't into electronics.

You know, I knew all these things I didn't want to do but I was like, I like that. generalized version of the mechanical engineering program. And when we were there, we met former astronaut Barbara Morgan who had blue, he just got back from space and she's an Idaho native, or she's from Idaho. She taught in Idaho, before she went up to space. And then she came back to Idaho. And we talked with her, we met her and talk with her for like two hours or so after the event had had ended. And this was one of the very first early but really important prototyping discussions that I had. And my mom was leading this one, and eventually I was leading my own, but her point was, can my daughter actually be an astronaut? Can you talk to me about this? Like, what is this like?

And then Barbara will take us through all these stories, and then eventually, you know, she would be my mentor. And when I started college, so I kept that relationship up with her and the engineering for four years. And I eventually got, you know, I was a freshman in college, and literally week two that I was an actual freshmen. I got an email from Barbara She said, do you want to be on a panel, we're trying to create a panel for student outreach in space and ended up being this really cool space symposium where we did a downlink with the space station. And we talked to an astronaut in space. And that was really crazy because it led to a bunch of other really cool opportunities to do space science research with NASA, I got to lead my own research team.

With Barbara's help. She really taught me how to be a leader even today, when I'm doing leadership work. In my work right now, in my work role as an engineer, I am constantly reminded of those tips that she gave me of how to lead a team effectively, how to be transparent, and then also how to produce really great work. She was the first we were doing a proposal and she was with us a 2am. Just working with us on this proposal to make it it was almost like we were in the rookie. You know how the kids in the movie that Ricky? They were hitting those really fast balls. It was like we were batting at the NASA standard because she was right there and making sure that we were writing to NASA So definitely having women mentors and mentors that identify with you has been really helpful. Right? First it was my mom, obviously, she identifies with me the most, that it was Barbara and she identified with me as a woman coming into engineering as a as an Idaho student. And then further down the line, like when I went to Palo Alto at HP, I met my longtime mentor, Dr. somani. And she's a Black woman that has a PhD. And she was able to help me learn how to do school better, because she really understood my identity and like, where she came from and where I came from. So I definitely think starting off with mentors who really understand you, fundamentally, is really important.

Laurence Bradford 27:42
All such good advice. Thank you so much for sharing, and I feel like I'm bopping around so much. But I'm curious. Are you working full time right now? Because you I know you say you're finishing school, or you're like properly graduating in like a month, actually, when this airs it'll be like two weeks or something. But yeah, Are you are you get working full time now?

Camille Eddy 28:03
Yeah, I'm doing a lot of contract work. And then I'm also working for an organization called block. And I'm a Product engineer there.

Laurence Bradford 28:10
Okay, and how long have you been working there? full time? I'm just trying to get the idea of like, how long have you been doing school in working? Like because I know you said these internships and they said, you have to do these internships with sounds like those were kind of like exclusively internships when you were living in Silicon Valley. But now you're back. You're back in Idaho now.

Camille Eddy 28:27
Yeah. So yeah, I could take you through that. So finding out the gate when I was a freshman, before I even started my classes, I started in a research lab with Dr. Plumlee. And I was introduced to him through Barbara Morgan and the Dean of the College Amy Ma. And so it was really crazy. Like before I even stepped foot on campus. I had my first job. And at that point, I was doing both that and web design. And then when I got my internship by HP that was through the school year, so I actually worked for HP. For two years while I was at school, and I would have my office, you know, where I could go sit down, and then go back to school.

And so it was really important for me to actually work for school while I was doing school. Because I was supporting myself. At one point, I was also supporting my sister. So that's another thing that especially for people of color, but you know, in general, there's a lot of students out there that have to be taking care of their family or taking care of themselves completely. And that was definitely my case. And then when I got when I transferred to, let's say, after I did my Silicon Valley internship, because yes, when I was in Silicon Valley, I wasn't at school at the same time, I tried to take one class and I was like, No, it's okay. It's okay. I can take a break. But when I transferred back my first year that I transfer back, I was like, I really do want to focus on academics, I've done the internships, I've done the clubs, I just want to like go to school for school sake. And that lasted for all the semester. And then I got a call, because one of the things that some people don't know is I never applied to any of my internship. So this wasn't an application process.

For me, this was a referral process. So I was constantly getting referred for these internships or people were finding me via LinkedIn and saying, Hey, can we interview you? And then it was the same for jobs, I would get referrals or connections on LinkedIn. He's like, we have this job that's very specifically in your skill set. And we seen that you do it very well before, can you do it for us? And so when I got back to school, I was free for a first semester, but the second semester, I got one of those connections, and they're like, we have a project and we're gonna be working with Microsoft. And I was like, I want to do that, you know, I want to do that. So I was working remotely. And that's what really introduced me to remote work.

So I guess to answer your question, I've always been working during school, even though I tried to not but kind of pulled me back in and I work remotely and I really enjoy it. And I think one of the things I'm going to try to do is, design my future of work the way I want it to be now. Instead of waiting eight or 10 years to be like, oh, now I'm gonna go into this remote hybrid lifestyle. I know it will be hard, but I think that that's gonna be helpful for me personally is if I just go ahead and design the place that I want to work and do it the way I want to do it.

Laurence Bradford 31:17
Well, the pandemic promote work really working in your favor because it's like so many people don't even have a choice and actually the opposite of you where I've really like to go to like a separate space so I have like a separation of like home and like work but my husband, for instance, he loves working at home like he's like, I'm getting so much done. I'm so productive. I'm sort of like I've adjusted now but at the start of the pandemic, I was like I was going crazy. But yeah, it's like that's definitely aiding with you know, wanting to work from home when I look in the future a lot of companies are going to be your mostly remote exclusively remote so that that's awesome. And I and I love what you're saying about like designing it. Now. Not You know, waiting eight years or 10 years, so Okay, so you're in Idaho now. And do you see yourself staying there then for longer term like working remote?

Camille Eddy 32:09
Yeah, definitely for the next like, couple of years I don't know about all forever, but definitely my family's here. My partner's family is here or nearby. And so I like how pretty it is. I do like not being in traffic. I like being able to go outdoors and the fishing. So there's definitely the benefits of being in Idaho is just this rural lifestyle. I like to say it wasn't his fault. But you know, my partner kind of won me over to the world lifestyle. But as long as I have internet access, I feel like this is a great place to be and I don't have to necessarily, you know, travel to find this. I can, it's right here. And so I think definitely I'm gonna stay for a little bit a little bit. Yeah.

Laurence Bradford 32:52
And also, it's just, like way more affordable, at least in Silicon Valley. Like, just like the overall cost of living And you can save a lot more money and Yep, yeah, for your future and all of that in like buying a house that that's going to interest you. That's just all that stuff is very top of mind for me lately. So I always think of that like, just like cost of living and things like that. Yeah.

Camille Eddy 33:13
The hardship if you don't plan for or if you plan, or if you like when I say don't plan for it. I mean, say I'm just gonna live in Silicon Valley, but I'm not gonna think about how I'm gonna live in Silicon Valley, and you show up and figure it out. So I was very lucky in that regard that I got to intern in Silicon Valley for so long, because I really understood what it was like to live. And when I came back here, it wasn't like I was running away or that I was like, giving up it was like, No, I'm done. Like, I've lived the life here. And I actually do miss my Idaho lifestyle. And I want to go back to that. And it was a conscious decision based on what I saw, in my experience. So even if someone's like, Silicon Valley is a place for me, my suggestion would be, don't nail it and nail it down, you know, until you actually go and experience that put some boots on the ground. You know, like be actually there and present and then make your decisions.

Laurence Bradford 34:04
That's great advice. And I feel like that's can be carried over to like jobs as well because I get not to rehash my personal story. But after college I got this internship in a completely different field, not technology. And in about two weeks, I realized I like hated it. And my plan was to go to graduate school and you know, two years of school in that field. Thank goodness I got that piece of like real life because it just showed me right away. Nope, this is not for me. And I think Yeah, we're moving to New cities that could be applied definitely with different things in tech. I like to tell people to try to dip their toes in first before being like, yeah, I'm gonna you know, go to a four year college for mechanical engineering, but I've never done it once. I know nothing about it. Because what if you get there and you don't like it? Anyhow? Yeah.

Camille Eddy 34:50
So yeah, I yeah, I have three real life if you want me to share them, share them. So the first one is say yes to everything new. And then the second one Don't do anything twice. And so where that came into play was when, especially when I was at my first school, I always look for things that were different. So like, for example, the Dean of the College asked me, Hey, would you like to introduce the President? And this is President Obama, and he was coming to school? And I was like, um, yes. But also what you know. And I said, Yes.

And then I did it. And it was crazy. And it was it was great exposure. So I always say yes to everything new, something new comes across my path, I say yes. And then I try not to do anything twice. So like, when I did the space science research, I had the opportunity to do the same thing. And I was like, No, let me put my focus into something else. And that turned into a leadership opportunity, or that turned into the internship opportunity. And then the third rule I have is make your accomplishments visible. So the other way I like to say that is show your work in progress. People do not show their work in progress. And it's really important that you do that because it makes the case for people hiring basically. work that you do very well. So you're working progress most likely will be a will have a project that has a final destination that's far beyond or unrealistic to what people will actually want to hire you for. So showing that work in progress actually allows you to demonstrate your your skills in a way that like well either maybe get you hired for a job get you into an internship and might get you an opportunity on campus and research, something like that.

So when I was a freshman from the time that I was a freshman at the first school, I literally did those three things. I didn't even realize I was doing it, but my opportunities replicated on top of themselves, you know, they started expanding and, and went out beyond just my school. It when I went to Silicon Valley for my first internship and definitely for my second internship, there was like, people knew I was there and they're like, Hey, what's up? What are you doing? Do you want to come hang out? Do you want to learn about this, you want to come to this event with me? And I built a community before I even got to California and so being able To do things like that will help help you do that exploration. And then you can also be able to rely on real information, not the fantasy or the theory, but you can actually start relying on people. And that's where power and influence comes as a student. I mean, that's where our influences are influences the ability to go out, try new things with little to no consequences to be able to have prototyping discussions with as many people as we want to be able to try something and then switch and pivot and still be able to rebound and not suffer, like the repercussions we wet if we had done it later with higher stakes. And so that's our superpower.

Laurence Bradford 37:37
When you said that you introduced President Obama before my face, like dropped because when you first said, Oh, she introduced a president, I was taught like the president of like the camp or the university president, and then you're like, no, like the actual press.

Unknown Speaker 37:50
I was like, Oh my God.

Laurence Bradford 37:52
That would be like a lot of pressure, obviously, but also great exposure, really put yourself out there, right. So we don't have a ton of time left, and just try to like, think of what the listeners will benefit most from it and like our few minutes just like hearing from you in Okay, like the one question I just is on my mind is just like how the heck are you so motivated and how do you do so much? And at such a young age? Like obviously some of it you're just like born with like, I just feel like that's just the case with some people. They're just like born with these, you know, go getter, more attitudes, but like, how do you just stay motivated day in and day out? Because we really haven't touched on this. I'm sure there were a ton. I'm sure there were a ton of challenges and roadblocks and things and maybe and probably times you just want to give up and do something else.

Camille Eddy 38:36
Yep, for sure. And definitely to your earlier comment, mechanical engineering is a hard degree is literally a like the like usually they say they have the weed out classes, but the degree itself is the weed out you know, and it really takes a lot of perseverance just to get a mechanical engineering degree I feel if you're not really equipped with the mental capacity and the tools and the calculus and and with life to you. No being a woman of color, being a Black woman, learning how to navigate my world and how it looks differently from the way that other people might prescribe it for me, um, that was something that I really struggled with and definitely threw up a roadblock was, I don't understand why I follow my mentors advice, and it's not working for me.

And it was like, are you paying attention to all of it? Have you created a policy where you can like, understand the different advice that might come to you? And where, where it strikes home for you personally, and your identity and what happening to you? And so, I mean, I think what motivates me is just not having to look back. Everything that I've been able to do up to this point has been an upward movement, and it hasn't been, oh, just sit down, you failed. And we have to go and do this. Again. Like every failure I've had, I feel I moved through like I bit the bullet, and I just let it propelled me to the next step. So I call it a growth mindset where I learned through my failure So, instead of thinking of she has a lot of success, maybe think of she's had a lot of failure. And that failure is does does, it doesn't motivate me, but it propels me, it's like, ooh, now that I've seen the way that this failed, I understand the situation a little bit more, and I can go with a little bit more awareness.

And that's why I've been able to grasp out a bit. So instead of just I failed, and therefore I have to start again, it's I failed, and now I'm more aware. And I do that all the time. And one of I learned to play chess pretty early. And one of the things I tell you when you play chess is you learn the most from the games you lose. And I think that's where AI comes in for me, you know, I don't want to lose, it really does crush me, you know, like anybody else. It's like, I gotta figure out how to get out from out from under this. But being able to look at failure and right in the face and not be scared of it definitely is helpful. It's definitely a practice. You have to practice how to keep your emotions in check, but then also to display your emotions, right? So you can work through it. You also have to learn how to communicate your failure to people in a way that does not make them look down on you.

And one of the things that they do know is, if you're seen as competent from the get go, you can talk about your failure, people look at that as awareness. But if you're not seen as competent, anytime you talk about your failure, even though you're doing the same exact thing that the other person did, they'll look down on you for that. And so being able to put insurance in that way, as well, like, I need to demonstrate what I've done well, I need to, you know, make sure people acknowledge my accomplishments because I know I'm going to fail. And when I fail, I want to fail and do the same thing that I've been doing lead to the next opportunity, and also have some more awareness about where the pitfalls are.

Laurence Bradford 41:49
Oh, this this was like absolutely amazing. I want to be mindful of time so I'm just gonna wrap things up here if that's alright with you. I had other questions I want to get to but I so enjoyed our conference. This was such a good way to end this season of the podcast this time around. Where can people find you online? Camille?

Camille Eddy 42:07
Yes, you can find me on Instagram at I am Camille Eddie. That's where I post a lot of my tips for students especially students, or even early career professionals who are trying to understand their world and tech and an interview and get jobs or internships. And then on Twitter I'm the same handle at I am Camille Edie and that will be the place where you can find you know, more my, I guess, who I am as a Black women in tech and I share articles there that interests me and I also write a little bit on that channel as well.

Laurence Bradford 42:42
Awesome. Again, this was amazing, and thanks for coming on.

Camille Eddy 42:45
Thank you. It was nice to meet you.

Laurence Bradford 42:50
Thanks for listening. If you want to recap of this episode, you can find the show notes at learntocodewith.me/podcast. From there you can search through recent episodes, or find old favorites using the search icon in the upper right corner. If you enjoyed this episode, you can subscribe to my show on whichever podcast player you use. For more free tech related resources, tips and recommendations, visit my website and blog at learntocodewith.me.

As I said at the start of the show, this is the last episode of season seven. I am really looking forward to taking some time off and planning for the next part of the year for Learn to Code With Me. To be honest, I'm not sure when we'll be back with season eight of the podcast. However, if you'd like to stay in touch with me during this time off, the best way to do that is by getting on the email list. You can do that over on the website, learntocodewith.me.

Thank you again for tuning in to this show and to the season. I really enjoyed this as I always do, and I hope to speak to you soon. Have a good one.

Key Takeaways:

  • Camille initially wanted to become an astronaut, but as her life led her to robotics and mechanical engineering, she found that investing in diverse, in-demand skills paid off. 
  • We need to advocate for women and Black women in tech, and there are a few key things that companies could be doing better to support their employees. (Related: Check out 43 Tech Resources for People of Color: Communities, Job Boards + More.)
  • Don’t let unfortunate circumstances determine the outcome of your life. Having to take a step back shouldn’t stop you from pursuing the career you want.
  • Mentorship has played a huge role in Camille’s career. Learn more about how her mentors have supported her, and why it’s important to have mentors in your life.
  • Camille’s three rules: (1) say yes to everything new, (2) don’t do anything twice, and (3) make your accomplishments visible.

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