As Online Content Lead at General Assembly, Candace Williams has a lot of responsibility. She keeps the content moving along, interacts with all of her teams, and has long days that vary in tasks. After spending time earning her Masters in teaching from Stanford and then becoming a teacher, Candace knows quite a bit about education. Paired with her love for technology, Candace is a perfect fit as an Online Content Lead. Candace advises to not stay on one path, to take advantage of opportunities, and to hustle hard. We are inspired by Candace’s work ethic and her passion for both teaching and learning.
How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?
Seizing your youth means trying new things and hustling hard on something. Even if it doesn’t work out, try new things and learn about yourself. Be willing to push the envelope.
What did you major in at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) and how did you determine what to study?
I applied to Claremont McKenna College for the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) program. I loved the tutorials, and the amount of writing that we did upped my writing skills. PPE was one of the main reasons why I applied to CMC.
Did you study abroad? What was your big takeaway from studying abroad and do you think it was worth it?
I didn’t study abroad, but I worked abroad a lot.
Where did you intern and how did you go about securing those internships?
I have interned at a lot of places. My first internship was during the school year at Claremont McKenna College. I did tutoring and was a lab tech and resident tech assistant. During the summer, I worked for my Congressman at his campaign office in my state. I got that internship through CMC’s career services. I looked through the postings, applied, and they gave me a stipend and class credit.
The second summer, I was a teacher at a juvenile detention facility, and CMC gave me another stipend and a fellowship. I wrote papers and got some class credit. After that, CMC gave me a grant to work in India for human rights work.
I graduated the following summer and went straight into my teaching program.
What were you doing before General Assembly?
I was in social media, so basically I was paid to be on Facebook and Twitter all day. Before that I was an elementary school teacher and I taught K-5 science in the south Bronx. Before that I went to grad school while teaching at the same time. I have a Masters in teaching.
You are an Online Content Lead for General Assembly. What does being an Online Content Lead mean?
It means that I am an instructional designer. I make sure that what we put out online really helps people learn. I also help source instructors and I am like the glue that holds our teams together. There are a lot of teams that put our content together. There are video teams, the design team, marketing efforts, and I am the person who keeps the content moving along.
What does a day in your life look like?
It really depends. What I really love about this job is that it is so flexible. Yesterday I was in Washington D.C. I got up at 5:30am, went to Penn Station, and took the three hour train to D.C. I met with people there, filmed at the New America Foundation, hopped back on the train, and got home around 8pm.
The day before that I was at work filming something until 9pm. During the day I have a lot of meetings and we talk about the redesign of the website. Sometimes I come in early, sometimes I come in late. It really just depends.
What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be an online content lead/producer do to set themselves up for success?
The number one thing is to hustle hard and work hard and to seek out different opportunities. I wouldn’t get trapped in one path. It may seem like everyone is doing the same thing, such as finance or going to the same college, but I would actually look for things to do that are different and that are off the beaten path so you can learn about yourself. People will take notice.
I never imagined that I would be an online content lead, but it really fits my experience because I’m passionate about tech and teaching. When you’re passionate about something, those jobs and opportunities will open up, but you have to show that you are passionate. You have to find the right opportunities.
If you were hiring an intern, what are the top 3 traits that you would look for?
1. Working hard. That doesn’t even mean staying at work until it is late, it just means doing a task and doing it well.
2. Collaboration. I want people who work well with others.
3. Being a fun, nice person to work with. At work you should be able to enjoy spending time with people.
You’ve been out of school for five years. How did you transition from college life to “the real world?”
I think school life is real. If you’re creating the right life for yourself at college, it should be hard and it should mean staying up late and working. I feel like the things that I did at school were not that different than what I do now. At school, I was waking up early and going to work and working on a lot of different projects. I had a lot of deadlines and worked with many people. Be flexible and realize that you’re going to be terrible at a lot of things.
You went to the Stanford University School of Education. Where does your interest in education come from?
I’ve always been into education, even in elementary school and middle school. I always tutored kids and had an interest in education. I’m very passionate about it.
How did you decide where to go to grad school?
I care about education so I took some classes at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and it was going really well. When Stanford came to campus, I was on my way to England for a debate tournament. I had my big suitcase but I was the only one who showed up to meet them. I met the head of admissions and she was excited to meet me. They had to sell me on the program, like why would I go to a program that was more expensive?
It came down between Stanford and CGU, which are both great programs. For me, I realized that their ideology was the same about teaching so I decided that it was time to try something new and get out of Claremont.
What activities were you involved in throughout high school and college? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?
A lot. I was president of the tech association, editor of the paper, I played the bassoon, and I volunteered a lot. In college, I was involved in debate and tech. With debate, I started teaching kids who were new to debate. I started debate my first day of college.
What motivates you in your everyday life – at the office and/or during your personal time?
I like feeling like I’m making stuff that matters. I like to have fun and I like to be with friends and family. I like feeling like I’m connected to people.
Who is your role model?
My mom, of course. She’s awesome. She works very hard, she’s smart, and she works very well with kids.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Nothing. I made mistakes, but you just have to do it.