JobsBlog: Life at Microsoft https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs We take you behind the scenes to show you what it’s like to apply, interview and work here. You’ll find stories by and about employees and tips directly from recruiters. Fri, 05 May 2017 18:15:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 100458109 Why employees find Microsoft Ireland to be a perfect career fit https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/employees-find-microsoft-ireland-perfect-career-fit/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/employees-find-microsoft-ireland-perfect-career-fit/#respond Mon, 01 May 2017 13:58:11 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=26745 A hub for music giants (U2 and Sinead O’Connor kicked off their careers here), and home to the literary canon, Dublin has long offered a feast for the eyes, ears and mouth. Now it’s a career destination as well. Those looking for job opportunities could join Microsoft’s new state-of-the-art inside sales center in Dublin, where […]

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A hub for music giants (U2 and Sinead O’Connor kicked off their careers here), and home to the literary canon, Dublin has long offered a feast for the eyes, ears and mouth. Now it’s a career destination as well. Those looking for job opportunities could join Microsoft’s new state-of-the-art inside sales center in Dublin, where cool events, a globally diverse workforce, and constant innovation and collaboration are the norm.

At the Dublin offices, teams work on household-name products like Windows, Azure, Office, and Xbox while gazing outdoors at mountain peaks or the race and golf courses that dot the campus.

The recently opened Inside Sales Centre in Dublin is hiring approximately 600 sellers to leverage leading-edge technology tools and analytics. New recruits will join the 1,200 people already working with Microsoft at the Inside Sales Centre, with 500 of the recruits offering support to customers in over 30 different languages.

Xavier Chachignon, a solution specialist for Office 365 has found Dublin to be a perfect career fit.

“Speaking other languages and sharing different cultures has always been something I like to do.”

Born and raised in Paris, Xavier had worked in different cities across France before accepting a position in Washington DC where he stayed for two years. His international move back to Europe didn’t just introduce him to a new culture. It also allowed him to reside in a city surrounded by tech giants, animated by a stimulating start-up scene, and brimming with an abundance of organized events that allow tech professionals to meet one another.

Microsoft Solutions Specialist, Xavier Chachignon

Xavier was already a believer in maintaining an international mindset. Aside from benefitting personally from cultural exchanges in his career, Xavier also believes that it makes for better business.

“The main advantage of sharing different cultures within Microsoft is that it helps us stay open minded. Every day my peers allow me to discover new ways of working and thinking. None of our methods and approaches can be assumed to be the best or only way.”

As a seasoned professional at Microsoft, Xavier can offer advice on how to make better use of the cloud, manage devices centrally, deploy security strategies, distribute mobile apps, or design corporate data architectures within SharePoint. But to pinpoint the solution he must first engage in careful listening.

“I put myself in their shoes [His managers and directors], and focus on how we can achieve more together. Their business challenges become my business challenges. I’m not just looking for technology solutions: I’m looking to improve peer collaboration within Microsoft, as well as within the companies of our customers.”

The globally diverse workforce is known for their tight teamwork—at work and play. Teams participate at social and charity events, and have opportunities to attend cultural outings together, from Dublin Castle, the National Gallery, and Kilmainham Gaol—a former prison that’s been converted into a museum.

Microsoft Solution Specialist, Xavier Chachignon

“The team is very young and very excited about Microsoft technologies,” says Xavier. “We’re all from different cities around Europe and we can learn from one another as we share our different cultural perspectives. No matter who you are, what your beliefs are, or where you’re from, you’re first and foremost a Microsoftie.”

Working at Microsoft doesn’t just allow me to build my technical skills within a specific role. It also allows me to think about my next role. At Microsoft I can build a career development plan that allows me to change my current role, move to a different department or even to a Microsoft company in another country.

“Our motto, ‘Start here, Go anywhere’ couldn’t be more true.”

“I want to help customers and business be the best at their work,” says Chachignon. “I’m very proud of that. You start here and you can grow your career as a sales professional big time. I can’t think of a better place to start out.”

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Building your professional toolkit at Microsoft https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/building-professional-toolkit-microsoft/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/building-professional-toolkit-microsoft/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 13:00:32 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=26634 Ask Shaina Morrison, Audience Marketing Manager within the Marketing and Operations organization. She has taken pointed, yet adaptive steps to better understand her interests, apply them to her passions, build her network and craft a trajectory that continues to build upon her experiences. Hailing from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, Shaina got tons of […]

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Audience Marketing Manager, Shaina Morrison

Ask Shaina Morrison, Audience Marketing Manager within the Marketing and Operations organization. She has taken pointed, yet adaptive steps to better understand her interests, apply them to her passions, build her network and craft a trajectory that continues to build upon her experiences.

Hailing from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, Shaina got tons of practice early on. She recalls the days of being bussed to the suburbs for school and having to adjust to complexity. METCO, a K-12 grant program intended to “expand educational opportunities, increase diversity and reduce racial isolation,” afforded her new opportunities to grow in more ways than expected. “I lived in two worlds,” she explained. “I grew up in a strong Black, Latin and West Indian city neighborhood, while balancing a suburban education for a chance at more opportunity.”

She went on to become a straight A student, but not without the struggles of straddling the fence of two vastly different worlds. At times, she had to overcome extreme racism all while balancing the trials of fitting in and excelling at her academics. “I learned to find balance in who I was,” she added.

Shaina immersed herself in music, culture and dance, going on to become a classically trained ballet and modern dancer, and training with the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre while in high school. By college, she developed an interest in the creativity and consumer insights of marketing, while potentially combining her artistic interests with her passion for people and the societal factors surrounding them. Per Shaina, “my love for sociology, marketing and music is what led me to New York for undergrad.”

At Hofstra University, she sought to find “her fit in marketing” through internships and marketing roles. In her first job at Brand Asset Group (a Warner Music Group agency), she connected brands with label recording artists and worked with the team to rebrand Motions Salon Hair Care, a leading beauty brand for textured hair. “I wanted more campaign development experience and more exposure to digital marketing,” she explained. Shaina later took on a position at Digitas, a global marketing and technology agency. There, she worked in a more traditional agency setting where she briefed and executed every type of marketing medium as an account executive.

Her stint at the agency proved much of the core decision making and overall strategy often remained with the client. According to Shaina, “there was also a shift in data decision making.” She recognized her desire for the science of marketing and realized data-driven insights were the cornerstone to any strategic approach. Shaina decided to attend the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and earn her MBA.

Business school added three key pieces to her marketing foundation. First, it gave her more exposure to the intersection of technology, entertainment and marketing. Then, through an exchange program in Barcelona and an immersion class in China and Mongolia, Shaina was introduced to global marketing, which has proven helpful at Microsoft. Lastly, she could “sink her teeth” into data-decision making through marketing research and analytics courses. “I applied it to my creative background to round out my skillset in marketing,” she concluded.

Shaina Morrison on the Microsoft Redmond campus

Kellogg also set the stage for Shaina to choose a Microsoft commercial for Kellogg’s annual Super Bowl ad review, a well-known marketing analysis assignment for their students. “It really touched upon empowering every person and every organization to achieve more,” Shaina said of her initial consideration of the company.

She became intrigued by Microsoft’s challenger position and its passion for marketing insights and applied findings. “I thought that was fascinating and a place where I could learn and grow,” mused Shaina. “I loved that when I interviewed for this role, there was a balance of strategy and execution. It would allow me to strategize my approach based on our goals and allow me to execute on that to see the whole vision come to life.”

Once Shaina interviewed, learned more about the opportunity for growth and concluded that – despite Microsoft’s innovations and long-standing history in the tech industry – her potential new teammates exuded a sense of company-wide humility that helped seal the deal. Furthermore, the role would introduce her to a new audience.

“The role has the developer component. Everything we build digitally requires a developer, so to understand their ‘language’ and create content for this audience would allow me to really deepen my understanding of development.” During a time where anyone can pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations, whether they are in HS, college or simply a dreamer, Shaina finds that the title of “student” can span a myriad of scenarios. From the high school senior who daydreams about creating a fun, mobile app game to the university junior who wants to build a way to support people affected by autism spectrum disorder through HoloLens development, she felt she was able to implement interesting initiatives to reach her student developer audience.

In true Shaina fashion, she took control of her career and her personal journey and joined the Microsoft team through the MACH MBA Program, a customized learning experience for recent graduates of university or graduate school who take on roles as a part of the Marketing, Evangelism, Finance, IT, Operations, Sales and Services organizations. This was the perfect opportunity for her to do precisely what she set out to do – design her marketing career. She joined the US Marketing & Operations and Developer Evangelism team, with a focus on inspiring and educating student developers to support their exposure to Microsoft’s developer tools, such as Azure and Visual Studio.

As for her new role, she loves that she has been able to make a difference while building her “marketing toolkit.” Shaina manages all programs that reach the student developer audience and drives exposure to Microsoft developer tools. For example, she manages the U.S. Imagine Cup, including the selection, promotion and nurturing of the student teams. She’s also responsible for setting up the live and digital event experience. Shaina feels this aspect of the role intersects the worlds of entertainment, tech and marketing. “It’s a production,” she added.

She also runs the Microsoft Student Partner Program for the U.S. With 110 aligned colleges, the program serves as a platform for student ambassadors to evangelize Microsoft on their respective campuses and host workshops (e.g., mobile, app, and game development, machine learning development, and the Internet of Things [IoT]).

As part of one of group’s organization-wide meeting, she moderated a discussion around customer obsession, diversity, and high performance with the award-winning artist, Common.

A year into her role, Shaina has joined BlackLight, an internal organization that connects African American/Black employees who are a part of the Marketing and Consumer Business group. “I was hoping to network outside of my immediate org and learn more about the different teams within the company, while lending my support to help with retention.” She immediately felt welcomed. “The group’s executive sponsor started looping me in with other senior leaders. It was quite meaningful to have an org invest in me early on.”

Shaina Morrison on the Microsoft Redmond campus

Through the group, she has committed to a “stretch assignment” to lend her expertise in support of diversity and inclusion in the company. She’s worked closely with Microsoft Brand Studios in support of an upcoming nonprofit. This experience has allowed her to apply newfound learnings to activities like Imagine Cup. “It’s amazing to be able to learn and see how another team works while remaining in a role that I love.”

As for her “marketing toolkit,” she’s happy to report that she has expanded her strategic chops by taking collected insights and building strategic plans, while executing on them. What’s next? “The revenue aspect. At an agency, you don’t always get to see the lift in sales and attribute it back to your efforts,” Shaina explained. It’s important that she’s able to understand the marketing levers that impact revenue in an accountable way.

Shaina says she’s “pleasantly surprised” as she has a role she enjoys and continues to amass meaningful connections. As she approaches her second year at Microsoft, she has found her stride. “You get out what you put in. If you don’t put forth the effort, you won’t like wherever you are,” she advised.

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From engineering leader to HR leader https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/engineering-leader-hr-leader/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/engineering-leader-hr-leader/#respond Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:00:06 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=26385 Word on the street was that Diego Rejtman was an inspiring ball of energy. I was particularly excited about this interview because who doesn’t look forward to a “ray of sunshine” during a Seattle winter? Suddenly, I hear – in the most cheerful of tones – “Toyyyyyyy!” He welcomes me with the warmest of welcomes. […]

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Director, University Recruiting, Diego Rejtman

Word on the street was that Diego Rejtman was an inspiring ball of energy. I was particularly excited about this interview because who doesn’t look forward to a “ray of sunshine” during a Seattle winter?

Suddenly, I hear – in the most cheerful of tones – “Toyyyyyyy!”

He welcomes me with the warmest of welcomes. We trade the quick intros on how to properly pronounce each other’s names (his last name is pronounced Rike-man), and my guard is immediately eviscerated. He offers me a seat in front of his roundtable that is filled with a collection of gum offerings, which are already the sign of a happy host (or gum addict).

Before we can TRULY get started with the interview, he happily explains that he doesn’t want this story to be the “Diego Show.” Since I was prepared to do PRECISELY that, I was a little thrown, but automatically intrigued by this honest glimpse at his self-awareness and humility.

He explained that he doesn’t mind serving as a “vessel” to tell the story of Microsoft’s new way of thinking – the “Growth Mindset,” which has been led by CEO Satya Nadella and Chief People Officer, Kathleen Hogan. Furthermore, he can’t do any story without communicating the hard work of his newly inherited team, Microsoft Global University Recruiting.

Okay, you’re on Diego. Let’s get this vessel out to sea!

He Already Had a Vision

Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, he happily reminisces of the days where – at the insistence of his mom – a 15-year-old, game-obsessed Diego would write letters to American gaming companies expressing interest in what books he should read, what programming languages they used, and how he could become an employee one day. “Do you know, they all wrote me back,” says Diego as he points to one of his first response letters on one of his prominently placed inspirational boards.

After graduating from college, Diego worked closely with a Microsoft University Recruiter by the name of Holly to accept an offer through the exact department he runs today. “I remember her,” he says with a boyish grin. “Did you know that 80% of people remember their recruiters out of college?” I don’t, but – admittedly – one of my closest personal relationships is with my B-School recruiter from nearly fifteen years ago. So, there’s some truth to it.

From there, Diego followed his dreams of gaming to work on the Xbox operating system. For 15 years, he went from a Software Design Engineer to a Principal Engineering Manager at Microsoft. He’s quite proud of his accomplishments in the engineering space, but he admitted he reached a moment of crisis about seven years ago.

Diego’s Awakening

Despite his booming engineering career, he was swayed by a Bay-Area tech company for a great engineering role and for a lot more money. He seriously considered the opportunity for him and his family. Why leave simply for money? I’m sure you’re thinking, “I’d love THAT crisis.” But, stay with me. Diego found this decision to be one of the toughest. In fact, it landed him in the emergency room with a panic attack. The opportunity awakened a crossroad in him.

“What am I about?” Diego took this question to heart. He chose to stay at Microsoft, but not without his newfound hobby – culture. He jumps up and points to another quote on his inspirational board, which I’m quickly learning is a part of his meeting style. In fact, it was this crossroad that led to the creation of his series of boards, which he describes as being his proudest takeaway when he decides to retire. “I started this experiment of posting clippings of my learnings on my office walls. This could be a page from a book or an image of a powerful concept,” he beams. “When Satya and Kathleen introduced the concept of the Growth Mindset into the company culture, it enabled this wall to gain a new dimension.”

Director, Diego Rejtman, University Recruiting

Diego recalls a presentation where he overheard an audience member ask “why the hell is HE in engineering?” He later asked her why she made such a statement, especially considering she didn’t know him personally. She said it was due to his warmth and authentic ability to connect with people, tools better suited for another area of business. Furthermore, his manager had even noticed this natural gift and mentioned that it would be a disservice to Diego and the company if he didn’t explore a platform to use this ability.

So, when I asked Diego, “what does having a hobby of culture mean?” Diego said it was these moments and his boards of inspiration that led him to “culture.” After his epiphany to take on this well-suited hobby, he began nurturing it in as many ways as possible by partnering with HR. In fact, his boss was so supportive, that they agreed that 80% of his time would go to Xbox engineering, with the other 20% of his time leading to culture cultivation.

At first, Diego experienced a sense of guilt, but he later realized that this hobby was just as beneficial to him as it was to Microsoft. He took on HR-based projects, including working closely with the Hispanic Organization for Leaders in Action (HOLA), an employee resource group at the company.  Fast forward to a little over a year ago, Nadella announced the idea that experiences drive the collection of knowledge.

“I want to be clear that if it wasn’t for this idea, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s not an idea of mine,” Diego clarified. “The credit goes to those who are a beacon of light to me. It’s lifelong learning. It’s something you can learn and aren’t born with,” he explained. “It’s about constant learning, getting out of your comfort zone and growing over time.”

“Don’t wait, act now.”

And in a matter of a 15-second explanation, the story of Diego’s career switch made all the sense in the world. He recalls reading a book about a guy who – in an effort to impact the world – simply wrote to whoever and whenever to get his point across or take action. Whether it was a CEO or a country’s President, pressing “send” was never an issue for the author. Diego got hit with the idea and immediately followed suit. “Don’t wait, act now,” he advised. He took fingers to laptop keyboard and shot a note to Hogan, expressing his desire to meet with her for 30 minutes and gain an understanding of how his cultivated hobby would be of service to the company. She agreed.

During their first meeting, he brought a seed and a canister. He revealed his plan to grow as a culture connoisseur over the next five years, with the goal to bring this grown-out tree five years later to prove his point. She connected Diego with some of her team members so he could continue to find ways to work closely with HR. On a chance encounter a year later, they ended up on the same flight and she told him about a position where she felt he would shine.

Of course, he thought about his plant and questioned if he was moving too soon, to which she questioned “why wait?”

She connected him with the hiring manager – Chuck Edward, CVP of Global Talent Acquisition – who was looking for the new Senior Director of University Recruiting. After about six weeks of chats and the hiring manager checking with his HR peers about Diego’s culture projects, he was offered the role, which he felt “took courage on the management side.”

Now let’s take a step back. Diego is a seasoned, well-regarded software engineer with technical leadership. He does not have the formal training of an HR leader. His experience only spans across a “hobby.”

Director, University Recruiting, Diego Rejtman

The self-aware Diego made it clear that he was not lost on these facts. “I looked at my [HR] peers, who all had degrees in areas like psychology or social development,” he said. Furthermore, his decision to take the role did not come without any fear. A multitude of concerns crossed his mind. “Was I willing to give up my track record [in software engineering]? Would my career slow down? Would I be successful? Would I even like it?” he lamented.

When asked about his family’s role in this tough decision, he said while getting teary eyed, “When I made the change and sent the text to my family, my sister replied ‘this is you.’” Diego added, “It felt really good.”

Diego took on the challenge and added – again, as genuine recognition of executive leadership’s stance – “it was actually easier to choose me than the traditional choice.” Of course, the idea is to tap into a person’s growing interests and passions for a mutually beneficial outcome for the employee and the company.

I asked what is the company looking for when considering the “non-traditional” candidate? He quotes a former colleague/Distinguished Engineer, Joe Long. “Consider three things. IQ. Is the person smart? EQ, or emotional quotient. Does the person have emotional intelligence and can they work well with others? And grit, or perseverance,” he explained as he pointed back to the Growth Mindset’s support of nurturing a person’s curiosity and endless desire to learn.

How did his new team receive him?

Diego admits he expected a neutral reception from an inherited team of people who clearly were more experts in the craft of HR than himself. He perked up in his chair and added that he was surprised by the warm welcome he received. “They rolled out the red carpet for me! They assigned me a mentor, a peer mentor and an onboarding document,” he said with a further burst of excitement. Please note, most people do not get super excited over an onboarding document. But, our guy, Diego does. “They celebrated the idea [of a non-traditional hire]”

Diego continues to be amazed by the team’s charter, dedicated work and overall impact on the company.

And in that moment, he suggests that we take a break and tour the building to give me a sense of the day-to-day. We pass some leftover lunch as we walk in on a team of recruiters working on narrowing down potential candidates for one of their clients, a hiring manager. They are in the zone. We then walk by several of his team members as he gleefully waves in their direction and they genuinely smile back. We head over to the lobby, which is Candidate Central. Filled with a cool mural that candidates can write notes on, games and other devices to calm them down prior to an interview. Diego offers me coffee from what he deems as the best coffee machine in the world.

Diego Rejtman and several Microsoft recruiters on the Redmond, WA campus

While light-hearted and cheerful, it’s important to note that Diego has an unwavering sense of respect for this group of 200 people that work in support of University Recruiting’s mission. Admittedly, he was never aware of how expansive Microsoft is simply because he only looked at the world from an “engineering lens.” However, in his new role, he is looking at it from both engineering and other functions like marketing, finance, and operations – globally. His team lives across 27 countries, serving 160 international subsidiaries within their respective regions.

Taking on the New Challenge of a New Role

As he ramps into his new role, Diego has been taking a world tour to become familiar with his people and the team’s charter. For example, he just got back from a week stint in China where he met with his team, some of the universities they cover and some of the students they work closely with. “It helps me understand how we’re different, yet how we’re the same,” he explained. Ultimately, “it’s like Jerry Maguire. Help me help you.”

Microsoft Recruiters stand outside of the Microsoft Global Talent Aquisition offices on the Redmond, WA campus

“Diego leads with a smile – but not only that, he leads with empathy and understanding. Having come from outside the HR function and from engineering, he is always seeking to find a common ground and win-win outcomes for the business,” said Kevin Mottram, Senior University Recruiter Manager in IMEA (i.e., India, Middle East and Africa).

Suddenly, he whips out his guitar. Described as one of only one hundred, it is a hybrid of both a guitar and ukulele that he loves to sing impromptu songs to those he meets with. Apparently, he’s done this since his time in engineering. Then he belts out a jingle of how he hopes I write a great piece about Microsoft’s new direction and his team.

When asked how smoothly his ramp has been, Diego admits that it has been challenging, but in a positive way. “It’s been a long time since I’ve worked as hard as I have these last two months,” as he referenced his desire to learn what the team covers and how he can help. “I work for them. I’m also working as a bit of a connector with business and engineering with HR, plus cross pollinating some best practices.”

Sr. Director, University Recruiting, Diego Rejtman

Secondly, he admits that navigating the variety of time zones is a challenge. He leans over and shows me his schedule, which literally has no breaks and has me wondering how he found two hours for this interview. Diego points out his first meeting at 7 a.m. and his last meeting at 9 p.m. He doesn’t complain, he just takes it as another way for him to work with and help others as is the case with his late meeting with a gentleman in Dubai. “I’ve always been a ‘Breakfast Dad’ so I could get up and make breakfast for my girls [ages 8 and 11],” he adds. “But, for days that I can’t, my wife – who’s been my biggest supporter – and I figure it out.”

Mottram adds, “The cultural or geo-political intricacies of how we do University Recruiting (UR) in Africa or India [as an example], verses where we stand in the U.S., may be many – and I think he is doing a good job to understand those intricacies by displaying curiosity and a desire to truly lead a Global UR function. With this, he is a very warm and welcoming person, and I’d say UR is his innate calling – so without the formal experience in HR, myself and my team see that authenticity in how he is leading with a sincere deep passion for University Recruiting at Microsoft.”

Describing himself as a “sponge” for learning everything he can about his new organization, ultimately, Diego wants his positive energy to be felt across his new team. He’s excited to serve as proof that operating under a Growth Mindset has its merits, leading to an effective, innovative organization with happy employees who recognize that “change is good.”

“I truly wanted to pay it forward and inspire the next generation of students”

“Diego is a leader who cares a lot about people and [is] extremely positive. It is always enjoyable to talk with him about the team or work. Recognizing great success and tough challenges, he clearly demonstrates ‘growth mindset’ by challenging the status quo or trying new things,” said Jihoon Heo, Talent Acquisition Director at APJC (i.e., Asia, Pacific, Japan and China).

As I begin to wrap up my interview, he reminds me that this new role is more than just a new role and a win for his hobby of culture. He wholeheartedly attributes his evolution to Holly Peterson, that University Recruiter that opened the gates of Microsoft to him 15 years ago. He commences to read an email he sent her about his new role and how she played such a major part in his career. “I always felt you partnered so well with recruiting and your technical background makes you a GREAT fit for that role!” responded Holly Peterson who is now the Global Head of Talent at Qubit.

“I truly wanted to pay it forward and inspire the next generation of students in search of THEIR dream jobs,” Diego concluded.

While he doesn’t know if he’ll ever return to engineering, he doesn’t rule out the possibility. He now believes, “after spending some years in HR, I would be a better engineering leader. Sure, I will need to revisit some programming and the technical aspects, but I will better understand the new students that I will be working with. It’s all about perspective.”

At the end of the day, Diego wants students considering Microsoft to know this is truly a company that wants new employees to “come as you are and do what you love.”

 

How will you accomplish your goals and empower billions with a career at Microsoft? Learn more here.

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“I started learning sign language at six months” https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/started-learning-sign-language-six-months/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/started-learning-sign-language-six-months/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:00:35 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=26340 “Both of my parents lost their hearing as toddlers. I started learning sign language at the age of six months. It’s mainly due to my background that I’ve seen – firsthand – how technology can impact lives.” Thus began the storied career of Microsoft program manager, Heather Dowdy. The South Side Chicago native is the […]

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“Both of my parents lost their hearing as toddlers. I started learning sign language at the age of six months. It’s mainly due to my background that I’ve seen – firsthand – how technology can impact lives.”

Thus began the storied career of Microsoft program manager, Heather Dowdy. The South Side Chicago native is the oldest of her siblings and, like most firstborns, assumed a lot of responsibility at an early age. Similar to children whose parents don’t speak the predominate language, she served as a translator. “I even interpreted my parents’ mortgage closing at the age of six,” she added, showing that being the Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA) comes with a certain level of responsibility. She notes, however, that her parents are strong-willed and encouraged her to be the same.

“[When I was] growing up, my dad was an avid reader and financially savvy. My parents didn’t want me telling my teachers or friends that they were Deaf for fear that people would pity us,” said Heather. “My parents taught me to believe in myself and that has really helped me overcome many challenges in being an African-American, female engineer.”

Fluent in American Sign Language, Heather earned her electrical engineering degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I’m a lover of all things tech,” she said. For 10 years, she worked in accessibility engineering product management at a leading mobile device company in Chicago. She was responsible for setting the strategic direction of her organization, with a focus on creating, testing and launching disability access features in mobile devices and apps. “I developed and promoted strategies to increase brand engagement and customer satisfaction among users with disabilities.”

“I have a huge heart for empowering those often looked over and cast out”

Despite a rewarding engineering career, she decided to find a more impactful role within the accessibility space. “I have a huge heart for empowering those often looked over and cast out,” she said as she sought to work with a company that brought disability access to the forefront of its initiatives. After interviewing with several key technology players, she was pleasantly surprised by Microsoft’s stance on inclusive design (i.e., design based on the needs of those with disabilities). “Microsoft was much more humble in its approach to accessibility,” she noted. “Microsoft is leading the way and encouraging partners and other companies they do business with to do the same.”

Microsoft Program Manager, Heather Dowdy

Microsoft Program Manager, Heather Dowdy

In fact, the company has taken a top-down, leadership approach to communicating the importance of the accessibility of technology. Soon after he became CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella declared, “Accessibility is not a bolt-on – it’s something that must be built into every product we make so that our products work for everyone – only then will we empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. This is the inclusive culture we aspire to create.”  

Heather was further impressed that Microsoft committed to having a Chief Accessibility Officer – Jenny Lay-Flurrie – who works to ensure that those with disability access challenges (i.e., persons with hearing loss, those with speech needs, those with mobility and/or manipulation limitations, individuals with sight restraints and those with cognitive concerns) benefit from technology advances across devices, software and the web.

“There is so much that I can do to help others personally and in my role at Microsoft. There are a billion people with disabilities in the world,” Lay-Flurrie added. “We’ve got to get it right for them.”

During a series of interviews for her new role, Heather learned more about Microsoft’s approach to “Design Thinking,” a problem-solving methodology deeply rooted in empathy for users and observing them in action. She was also drawn to the company’s “growth mindset,” which she said, “encourages employees to lean into uncertainty, take risks and constantly learn from their mistakes.”

Heather and her husband agreed to move across the country so that she could take her passion around accessibility to the next level and reach millions through her work. The couple and their three young children made the trek to the Pacific Northwest in pursuit of expanding her lifelong interest. As a new program manager with the Web Accessibility (Enterprise IT) team, she is responsible for developing strategies and driving change to make the Internet accessible for everyone, starting with internal websites for Microsoft employees requiring disability access. It is key that she continues to empower “those who are overlooked or left behind.”

Microsoft Program Manager, Heather Dowdy

Microsoft Program Manager, Heather Dowdy

Now that Heather has joined the team, she says Microsoft has exceeded her already positive expectations. “I honestly didn’t pick up on it or wasn’t fully aware of it until I got here, but I could see they truly walked the walk. They truly are bringing others along for the journey through ‘inclusive design,’” she added. “We are making small steps to change the engineering culture to include the user experience of people with disabilities earlier, rather than later in development.”

Overall, she’s excited that she’s learned so much in her new role and has found a solid ground within Microsoft’s culture. “There are so many exciting things happening here, especially with the culture shift that you really have to experience to believe it,” she said. “Now that I’m a ‘Softie, I want everyone else to know what a great place this can be to grow and make an impact.”

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Coming back for more https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/coming-back-for-more/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/coming-back-for-more/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 14:00:15 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=25953 Tucked away in the northwest corner of Microsoft’s main Puget Sound campus you’ll find an assortment of restaurants and shops that offer a burst of flavor and culture to please most any palate. It’s the last place you’d expect it, but amid the glass, stone and steel of a corporate campus you’ll find The Commons: […]

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Tucked away in the northwest corner of Microsoft’s main Puget Sound campus you’ll find an assortment of restaurants and shops that offer a burst of flavor and culture to please most any palate. It’s the last place you’d expect it, but amid the glass, stone and steel of a corporate campus you’ll find The Commons: 150,000 square feet of creature comforts and convenience that provide a place to gather over an organic, locally-sourced meal and a microbrew – and cross a couple of errands off your list on the way back to the office.

It’s all a part of Microsoft’s commitment to provide a comfortable work environment that makes it easier to get stuff done, not just on a professional level, but a personal level as well. And if that means making a space where employees, and their families, can relax after hours and take in the occasional live show, then so much the better. Here’s a rundown of the amenities that keep them coming back:

An East coast beach vibe on the Eastside

Since April of 2016, one of The Commons’ most popular establishments has been Boardwalk, a gastropub created in partnership with Seattle restaurateur and James Beard Award-winning chef, Maria Hines.

With Boardwalk, Hines took the local, organic approach that she pioneered with Tilth and Young American AleHouse and applied it to a dining experience that offers up coastal, boardwalk-inspired foods like hand tossed pizzas and house made gourmet hot dogs, as well as an assortment of other appetizers, entrees and desserts.

Small touches like the Mason jar glassware and wooden boats overhead help to play up the Atlantic City beach vibe that inspire Boardwalk’s name. Couple that with its low-key atmosphere and extensive happy hour menu and you’ll understand why Boardwalk is the destination of choice for an after hours libation, some live music or the occasional brew fest.    

          

Pizza pie, made on demand

Another big draw is MOD Pizza, creator of the superfast pizza concept. MOD (Made on Demand) started in Seattle and it’s one of the fastest growing pizza concepts in the U.S., with plans to open 100 stores in the U.S. and overseas. Of course, none of that matters since this MOD is no further than a stroll across campus.

With MOD, the diner is in the driver’s seat, directing a member of the “MOD Squad” to create personal, Artisan-style pizzas and salads. Meals are ready in minutes and the price stays the same, regardless of toppings.

The menu offers 11 classic pizzas like the Calexico (red sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola, chicken, jalapenos and hot buffalo sauce), as well as the option to create your own with one of five different sauces, six cheeses, nine meats and 16 veggies. And for those marathon-coding sessions many employees go for the Mega: two 11” crusts stacked together.

How about a game of soccer?


Keeping mind and body in top shape requires some sort of outlet for exercise. Fortunately, there’s a range of fields and sport court options within a stone’s throw of The Commons—everything from association football (what we locals call soccer) to bocce ball, basketball and beach volleyball. And the requisite equipment is available at no charge, making it easier to burn off the calories and blow off some steam.

Fortunately, for those whose sense of athleticism caters more to the slopes or the trails, Eastside Ski & Sport,is also located in The Commons. The full-service tech department comes in handy for employees wanting to keep their  current ride tuned up, and full-time Microsoft employees enjoy a 15% discount on all full-price bikes. There’s also an assortment of skis, snowboards and all the necessary accouterments to stay safe and warm.

Keeping up your appearances

For more than six years Redmond Auto Salon has offered top-rate car care, customer service and convenience. From its facilities on Level X4 of the Commons parking garage (directly under Studio C), the salon offers premium car washing and detailing services. If that’s not enough, the salon’s smartphone app makes it easy for employees to schedule a detailing and service appointment at the building where they work on campus.

So no more excuses when the wheels aren’t looking the best for that night on the town, or hauling the family and friends around on weekends.

Saving you time and money in one fell swoop

The tech industry is known for its frenetic pace. In the midst of the madness, the financial pros at First Tech Federal Credit Union are all about making it easier to manage accounts and investments. First Tech recently remodeled the Commons branch to offer more personal service and help employees build a better tomorrow for themselves even as they’re helping build a better world.

Membership DOES have its privileges

There are some great perks to working at Microsoft, not the least of which is the many discounts at local businesses through the Microsoft Prime Program. It’s a lot to keep track of, so every week a different business is featured at the Microsoft Prime Desk in the Commons. Employees can stop by from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. to learn more about their products/services and the great savings available through Microsoft Prime.

Microsoft is known for drawing talent from around the world, so it’s only fitting that a company with such a culturally diverse workforce would create a place like The Commons where more than 44,000 people who call Microsoft’s Redmond campus their home away from home away can get things done.

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How early career HR professionals kick-start their time at Microsoft https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/early-career-hr-professionals-kick-start-time-microsoft/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/early-career-hr-professionals-kick-start-time-microsoft/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:00:39 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=26157 There’s an expression people use when they’re feeling overwhelmed: “Drinking from the firehose.” For newcomers to any large, global company, there’s so much to learn that it can feel like information overload. What if there was a way for people to experience all the benefits of a large, global company, and at the same time, […]

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There’s an expression people use when they’re feeling overwhelmed: “Drinking from the firehose.” For newcomers to any large, global company, there’s so much to learn that it can feel like information overload.

What if there was a way for people to experience all the benefits of a large, global company, and at the same time, enjoy the advantages of a small, built-in support network? Early in career human resources (HR) professionals hired into Microsoft’s HR Trax program receive just that—all the beauty an enterprise company can offer, plus serious support that keeps program members from feeling overwhelmed.

“I talk about our culture shift”

The Trax program kick-starts an HR career at Microsoft. The company hires new graduates who’ve earned an M.A. or an MBA degree (or both) directly into the program while they’re interning. For two years, program members experience two different HR roles; each rotation lasts 12 months.

Emma Gutierrez, who’s in her first-year rotation of the Trax program, is working in a hybrid HR role in Silicon Valley. She spends half her time doing talent and program management, and the other half in an HR manager role, supporting the PowerPoint team. One of her responsibilities involves leading the region’s new employee orientation every Monday.

“I talk about our culture shift and walk through an example of how growth mindset is embraced. I also talk about how Satya Nadella, as a very humble leader, has helped the company make that shift,” she says. Gutierrez wants “new employees to understand how growth mindset is one of Microsoft’s most important attributes, so they feel like they can safely take risks and not be afraid they’ll be rebuked or fired.”

She has a high opinion of Microsoft’s values. As a summer HR intern in Redmond, Emma felt confident she could share what she considered to be “a provocative suggestion” with her manager. The manager encouraged her to share that idea with the broader team, including the director. “She amplified my voice instead of watering it down,” says Gutierrez. “Boring ideas might pass the bar but they don’t challenge us to think differently and improve.”

“If you have fresh ideas they’ll be valued.”

Rod Armstrong, on the Microsoft Redmond campus

As someone who recently finished the Trax program, Rod Armstrong believes “an exciting time for HR. If you have fresh ideas they’ll be valued. You can try new and innovative things.” The company is working hard to adopt the concept of a “growth mindset”—the idea that people can grow from every experience, and that it’s good to take risks, even if some end in failure—because that’s how people learn and improve and innovate.

He began the program with a cohort of nine others; they all started in different areas of HR, including (but not limited to) compensation, HR management, and operations. He likes that his network went across functions; he now knows people in different areas of the business. “That was vital,” he says. “It’s really helpful to have others going through the same things—as you’re learning about HR here you’re also learning about the company. And it was great to start with that built-in support network.”

During Armstrong’s first rotation, he supported Marketing as an HR manager. “Not only did I learn a lot, but it also pushed me to figure out how to influence and impact the business.” He found learning influencing skills to be “the most challenging” aspect of that work. He spent his second year on the operations side, in Global HR Operations as a Process Excellence program manager within one of the company’s “Centers of Excellence,” which drive central strategy and support for Microsoft’s People priorities worldwide. “It was cool to learn about operations, how our systems work, and the structure of our HR tools,” he says. During that experience, he earned a Lean Six Sigma certification as part of his training and development.

“I learned so much in two years—it goes by really fast,” says Armstrong. “The program puts you into meaty roles, and you get to do challenging work. There’s a good chance you’ll get two very different experiences in the two-year timeframe.” Now that he’s completed the program, he feels “well prepared” for his current role as an HR manager for the Global Sales and Commercial Finance Team.

Megan Hibpshman, on the Microsoft Redmond campus

This past recruiting cycle, for the first time, the company hired people who hold undergraduate degrees into the program. However, they won’t automatically rotate into a new role after 12 months. Megan Hibpshman, who co-leads Trax, says, “they’ll have the choice to switch into a new role if they and their managers decide they’re ready.” But first, they need to gain a full understanding of the job they’re in. Even if they don’t switch roles, they stay in the program for the full two years.

Senior leaders are “highly invested” in Trax and meet with members frequently. New hires have this exposure to senior leadership throughout the two-year program.

Hibpshman enjoys how Trax recruits “come in with fresh perspective and energy. They’ve done their homework and they’re embracing the growth mindset. They’ve been able to latch on to that vision, push the boundaries and think a different way.” HR professionals at Microsoft get to be at the forefront of shaping the kind of company culture that encourages such creative thinking.

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How to land a job at Microsoft via Social Media https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/land-job-microsoft-via-social-media/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/land-job-microsoft-via-social-media/#respond Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:00:36 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=25758 Maybe you shoot emails at recruiters like buckshot. You hope one missive amongst many will score a direct hit. Or, you passively post resumes on job boards and wait for a bite, like a fisherman dangling a baited hook. Perhaps you narrow your focus. You’re more strategic, and use social media to actively reach out. […]

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Maybe you shoot emails at recruiters like buckshot. You hope one missive amongst many will score a direct hit. Or, you passively post resumes on job boards and wait for a bite, like a fisherman dangling a baited hook.

Perhaps you narrow your focus. You’re more strategic, and use social media to actively reach out. Three Microsoft Recruiters shared advice and best practices for effectively engaging with company recruiters via social media channels.

CREATE YOUR PROFILES

You can’t find a job through social media if you don’t have an online presence. Rule number one: Set up profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, and GitHub (for programming roles). It’s well known that LinkedIn can be an important site for job hunters, and there are several ways you can make your LinkedIn profile more appealing to recruiters. First, upload a profile photoaccounts with profile photos get 21x more views, 36x more messages, and 9x more connection requests. There’s no need to book a professional headshot photographer (selfies are fine), but do make sure that you’re dressed appropriately and look presentable, and don’t include friends or pets in your photo. Maasa Walker, a social media ambassador and recruiter for Microsoft retail stores, says, “You should have an authentic profile. You want to be professional, but not rigid.”

Microsoft Recruiter, Maasa Walker

When Walker explores a LinkedIn profile, she wants to know what drives people. She’s not looking for hobbies, but “what you’re professionally interested in.” Armed with that information, recruiters can more easily guide you into the right role.

“On my profile, I am very specific about what I’m passionate about, what I do, and how I can help people. I emphasize I’m a social recruiter,” says Maasa. “I’m very clear about what I recruit for—retail stores.”

As you develop or refine your LinkedIn profile, ask yourself the following questions to help shape it:

1. Who am I? (Or, what kind of experience do I have?)

2. What do I want to be known for (Or, how do I want to be perceived?)

3. What is my biggest selling point?

Make your profile relevant, to ensure that recruiters know what you do and what you can do for the company. Find people who are on the Microsoft teams you’re interested in, and check out how they’ve crafted their profiles. Then, when you write your own, you might have something that’s more likely to resonate with hiring managers. (Helpful hint: If you’re new to LinkedIn, read others’ profile summaries to get a feel for language common to your industry.)

“Have snackable things on your profile,” says Maasa. “This is about balance—articulate but don’t go overboard. Don’t be muddled. Be very specific in your messaging.”

Search engine optimization is something to consider, too. “Hashtags and keywords can be incredibly useful when recruiters are searching for candidates,” says Maasa.

A few other tips to help your profile appear higher in search results:

1. Add your skills and request endorsements from current and former colleagues. Not only does this help recruiters more easily discover you in search and understand your strengths, but people with at least five skills listed on their profile receive up to 17x more views.

2. Make sure that you list your current or most recent position, as well as the location. Profiles with a  position show up more readily in search, and more than 30% of recruiters use advanced search based on location.

3. Include a personal summary of at least 40 words. Think of your summary as the “elevator pitch” for yourself and where to pique your audience’s interest in reading the rest of your profile.

Microsoft Recruiter, Maasa Walker

She encourages candidates to consider how they can best brand themselves. “It’s about positioning,” she says. Think about how you want to stand out. How do others in your field describe themselves?

Before, an application was two dimensional—only paper. But now, there are different ways to market yourself, show some personality, and develop your brand. You can show a different side of yourself via social media. You can also mention relevant information that you wouldn’t necessarily put on a resume.

After you decide how you want to sell yourself, back up any claims with examples. Know how to articulate proof for any claims you make. “As a recruiter, sometimes I know they can do the job—but if they can’t sell themselves, I can’t sell them to the hiring manager,” she says. They need assurance that you can verify what you’re advertising during an interview.

Think before you post. “Twitter is more casual than LinkedIn,” says Walker. “What’s appropriate for one might not be appropriate for the other. Know your platform and who your audience is.” Maybe you’re a comedian, and your fans expect you to post explosive content. But what about a hiring manager? Have a digital presence like you already have the next job you want. “Err on the side of too little vs. too much—because you can’t take away—but you can always add,” she advises. Anything you post is discoverable, and “can be used for or against you.” As a general rule, don’t post content you wouldn’t talk about in a professional setting.

Microsoft Recruiter, Maasa Walker

Looking for things to post? Set up an account with an RSS aggregator like Feedly, and subscribe to blogs relevant to your field, as well as your professional and personal interests. As you come across interesting articles, share them on your social media channels. Twitter also lets you create lists of users—tech industry leaders, for example—so you can better organize accounts you follow. Take your content curation to the next level with Hootsuite, which lets you set up dashboards with columns for each of your Twitter lists for easy reading, retweeting, replying, and posting. You can even set up columns that pull in tweets with certain keywords or hashtags (#interactiondesign, as an example) to easily track tweets related to these topics.

And don’t forget about creating your own content! You have your own unique point of view, so think about the trending topics within your field that you could write about. LinkedIn has a native publishing feature that lets you publish longer-form posts without having to create a blog on another platform. Creating your own articles is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader, and by writing them on LinkedIn, you’ll be able to share those thoughts with your entire professional network, including any recruiters you may be trying to impress. LinkedIn can show you who’s reading your posts, so you’ll be able to see whether you’re making an impact on the right people.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

If you’re interested in a certain position at Microsoft, first apply online through the Microsoft careers site; recruiters can’t find you if you’re not in the system. Then, do some initial preparation and research before you reach out to a recruiter directly. Turn on “Open Candidates” on LinkedIn, which lets recruiters and peers outside your organization know that you’re open to new opportunities but keeps your job search under the radar. Use LinkedIn Salary to make sure that the role you’re interested in would fall within your target salary range. Finally, check out Microsoft’s LinkedIn page to see the latest company news and discover who in your network already works for the company or any connections you may have in common with the recruiter or hiring manager and team.

Recruiters appreciate candidates who respond to their posts. Simply writing “I’m available” or “Can I have the job?” does little to encourage a dialogue with a someone who’s dealing with hundreds of people. They appreciate when you put some thought into starting a conversation. Try responding to recruiters’ posts with humor, or showing excitement about an opportunity. Those types of comments give them material to work with.

Robin McMahon, a senior recruiter who specializes in hiring for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data science, stresses the importance of networking. “Connect with others in your industry, LinkedIn groups, and recruiters at Microsoft,” she says.

Senior Microsoft Recruiter, Robin McMohan

Once you’re connected, send an InMail to the recruiter. You can also find and reach out to hiring managers. Follow Microsoft Jobs on Twitter—then, every time there’s an update, a blog post, or a new position, you’re alerted.

Sometimes McMahon posts that she’s looking for a certain type of talent. “You’d be surprised how many people get jobs just by reaching out through LinkedIn and Twitter,” she says. If candidates ping her and ask for help, “even if it’s not exactly” for a position she’s trying to fill, she’ll usually get their resume out to the staffing and sourcing community across Microsoft. “It’s a little step above applying on the web site,” she says. (Still, apply online first!)

Senior Microsoft Recruiter, Robin McMohan

“Keeping your name in front of people who can help your career is really smart,” McMahon says. “Follow #machinelearning and #AI on Twitter and LinkedIn. Know what’s going out in the news—even in the Microsoft blogs.” From a blog article, you can often learn the product, the team name, and usually the hiring manager’s name. Send that person an invitation to connect with you. Ask them “What can I do to get into Microsoft?” As a talent sourcer, she uses LinkedIn “all the time” to contact potential candidates.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

When you ping a recruiter, try to ensure they hire for your line of work. Mention the role you’re interested in. If you’re an engineer, you’d be wasting your time if you reached out to a recruiter who staffs for the company’s retail stores.

There are hundreds of recruiters working on different areas of the business—get to know the ones who hire for your area. If you want a job in a specific field—you can also look for a hiring manager. The good thing about social is that you can do targeted research. Recruiters will often post what they’re hiring for, and many use hashtags on their profiles (#hololens, #machinelearning, etc.).

“Be a detective,” says McMahon. “Look on the careers site, look at teams and job descriptions you’re interested in. Use Bing or LinkedIn–you can search by team names and it pulls up people’s names that are tied to it.”

Joel Havermans, a Microsoft talent sourcer and social media ambassador in the United Kingdom, says, “Consistently leverage your social media presence. Network with the right people. Listen to industry speakers, such as company CEOs. Do research to approach the right people on social media.” Ask recruiters how they can help you to get a job at Microsoft; it’s better than sending “heaps of messages or generic salutations without a name.”

“Candidates come to my network more effectively through social than through the career site. It’s a more personable approach. I can see who they are and what they do. I feel more obliged to put them in touch with the right person or right opportunity,” he says.

When people engage with recruiters on social media, they’re starting conversations that can lead somewhere—sometimes right into a new job.

As always, for more up to date news and opportunities follow us on Twitter at Microsoft Jobs, on Facebook at Microsoft Careers, Instagram at Microsoft Life, and LinkedIn on the Microsoft Corporate page. Good luck!

 

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How early career designers shape Microsoft products https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/how-early-career-designers-shape-microsoft-products/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/how-early-career-designers-shape-microsoft-products/#respond Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:00:47 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=25512 Once every 10-15 years, there’s an evolutionary leap in the software industry—a jump that isn’t as big as fish leaving the ocean for a terrestrial existence, but one that is still significant. Michael Gough, CVP of Design for the Applications and Services Group (ASG), says, “We just spent 30 years teaching people to think like […]

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Once every 10-15 years, there’s an evolutionary leap in the software industry—a jump that isn’t as big as fish leaving the ocean for a terrestrial existence, but one that is still significant. Michael Gough, CVP of Design for the Applications and Services Group (ASG), says, “We just spent 30 years teaching people to think like computers, and we are on the verge of spending the next 30 years teaching computers to think like people. To be on one of the teams that’s focused on creating that new relationship is pretty exciting.”

Gough was involved in the previous major change in the computer industry, and now, as a design leader at Microsoft, he’s “in exactly the right space and the right time to be involved in the next one.” And so are the members of his team.

“There are two or three companies on the planet right now that are going to determine the future of human-computer interaction.”

In fact, Gough’s organization is poised to hire many new designers to contribute to this endeavor. This CVP characterizes his group as people who have “a lot of positive energy—everyone likes each other and they like working together. They’re energized by the current work.

“There are two or three companies on the planet right now that are going to determine the future of human-computer interaction. Microsoft is one of those companies, and might just be the leader,” he says. Early career designers who are hired into his group will have an opportunity to participate in shaping this future.

Within this dynamic environment, you don’t have to be a veteran employee to carry influence. Enrique Dominguez, a user experience (UX) designer who’s been with the company since the spring of 2014, partners with senior project managers and finds that it never gets old when they “take your idea and pitch it to their partners and their bosses.”

This UX designer appreciates how his team “covers a lot of ground.” They’re redesigning the framework of Office from beginning to end—so the motion designers, the icon team, and the color team all work together to make the product coherent. They’re invited to meetings so they’ll develop “a deep understanding of the product.” And sometimes, what they learn in those meetings “seems loosely related” to what they’re working on, but then suddenly, they’re looked to as the experts. “At the end of the day, you have to come up with the right design answer, and it will affect millions of people,” he says.

Brandon Foy, a motion designer who works with Dominguez, likes that at Microsoft he has “the privilege of being able to experiment, think outside the box, and solve problems—designing ways to help people be productive.” His favorite projects are the ones where he has “no clue how to approach it or solve it.”  In those situations, he and his teammates collaborate to get the job done. He works with “amazing, talented people” who care about what they’re doing, in a “super nurturing” environment. “Everyone wants to see you do well,” says Foy.

But the best part of his job is the opportunity to learn. “I think some people forget that if you stop learning, you stop living,” he says. He’s felt empowered working with so many smart people. His biggest lesson has been “to learn how to listen, and take in ideas, and then present them in a way that other people can benefit.”

He’s also learned from mentors. The most memorable advice? “Trust your instincts when it comes to design and animation, so you’re not second guessing yourself. But keep in mind you have to be open to change and criticism.”

When a friend expressed interest in joining the team, Brandon told her that everyone he works with has a lot of respect for each other, and that “everyone acknowledges strengths and weaknesses, and pulls together to make each other better designers.” He also described his manager, who’s crafted a team that’s invested in what they produce. “It’s amazing to have a manager who cares about not just the work, but about you and the impact you can make,” he says.

The Envisioning Team is also part of ASG; the group creates prototypes on the future of productivity. They’re responsible for running the “Envisioning Center” within the 3000-square-foot Executive Briefing Center (EBC), which shares those prototypes with C-level executives and internal and external partners. They also create “future productivity” videos that are released for internal sales teams. (Those also get shared publicly.)

Daniya Ulgen is an interaction designer on the Envisioning team. She has a unique job on a small team that is “all about conversations.” Her team doesn’t ship products to customers. They gather information from different sectorsbusiness, plus cultural and technological trendsand then use what they’ve learned “to synthesize a vision for where things are going, and produce prototypes to explore how technology can make that vision a reality. ” This job fits with her personality because she’s “always been an avid observer of systems and human behavior.”

She likes the “interdisciplinary nature of interactions” she has on her team. “We talk to artists, psychologists, technologists, business strategists and thought leaders involved in innovation,” says Ulgen.

Her team’s most recent work involved a complete refresh of the EBC—she thinks it’s probably the most creative project she’s worked on in her 18 months on the team. (She’s been at the company for three years.) “We got to think about everything from the building’s interiors, to the devices themselves, to the interfaces on the designs,” she says.

Because Microsoft is so diverse, and there are “very few bubbles you can live in”—you’re exposed to a broad range of opinions and thoughts. What’s the advantage of that environment? “The conversations and challenges are more interesting,” says Ulgen. “Good design is design that solves a problem well, and to do that you need a pretty rich understanding of the world and a rich sensibility of the people you’re designing for,” she says.

Gough agrees with Ulgen. He thinks the most important skill designers can have today is the ability to “look at things holistically—to think about what the product is or what the product should be.” Part of developing that holistic point of view is to “develop your humanity. Value every single experience. You want to bring as many perspectives as possible.”

Gough appreciates that a designer in the digital field “can draw something, and see it widely used in one or two months. You constantly get feedback, which accelerates your own personal growth,” he says.

 

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