As a teenager, Briana Lassiter loved watching true crime shows—not because of the storylines, but because she got to see forensic scientists at work. This led her to study computer and information systems, so she could become one of the forensic specialists she watched growing up. She started interning at Lockheed Martin through the National Security Scholars Program and was hired on full time after graduation. Now one year in, Briana’s a software engineer, plus the coordinator for her team’s internship program.
What sparked your interest in software engineering?
So, my interest was not initially in software engineering. My degree is geared towards computer forensics, but to break into that industry you need to have a software background, so that's why I became an engineer. It's been an amazing learning experience, and I’m getting really good foundational skills, so I can move into a more specialized role at the company, like a forensic analyst, down the line.
What do you like about the culture at Lockheed Martin?
I love all the work we do in the community. I actually just finished up a program with local high school students where we did an Amazing Race-like STEM challenge with them, complete with cryptography and flying drones. I also get to speak to high schoolers about my experience as a woman in tech, and what they can do to pursue a career in software engineering.
Do you enjoy the opportunity to speak to students?
Yes, it’s great! As I talk about my career path with a student, I can tell they get excited and inspired: I think they see their future selves in me. And I think that's the most important thing for me: As a woman of color, I want to inspire people to pursue a career like I did, and to use me as a resource. Mentorship is really important at Lockheed Martin, and it’s important to me, too.
What do you love the most about your job?
As a software engineer, the thing I love the most is that I'm constantly learning. Coming out of school, you think you know everything. Then you get to work, and you realize you can only learn so much through classes—the rest you need to learn on the job. As the intern coordinator, I love shaping the future of the organization. Interns come here to get work experience, but it's so important to also bring them into our culture, make them feel comfortable, and make them feel at home.
In your role, is it more important to be a strategic or creative thinker?
Both! I say that because as a software engineer, it's easy to get stuck in the weeds. You have to be strategic to get things done. Sometimes you need to step back and think: What do I need to get done? Why does it need to happen? What does it need to look like?
But then I also have to be creative because getting to a solution is often not a clear path. You have to think outside of the box. And coding is so creative, people don't realize it. You don't have to follow one way—everyone’s code looks different. So in my opinion, we need to be strategic and creative.
What makes you want to stay at Lockheed Martin?
I've only been here a year, and so far, I've accomplished so much. If you’re ambitious, positive, have a good mindset, and want to work hard, you can move up in the company. I can just tell that my career path is not going to be a straight line, and I'm excited about that.
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