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. Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:00:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 100458109 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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Explore Microsoft Program https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/explore-microsoft-program/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/explore-microsoft-program/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:00:23 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=25286 When college student Bayo Olatunji was first introduced to his school’s Microsoft recruiter, he froze. He couldn’t think of what to say. Then he opened his mouth and the following words spilled out: “Hi. I have no skills, but I want to work for you guys. What can I do?” The recruiter asked, “Do you […]

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Program Manager, Bayo Olantunji

Program Manager, Bayo Olantunji

When college student Bayo Olatunji was first introduced to his school’s Microsoft recruiter, he froze. He couldn’t think of what to say. Then he opened his mouth and the following words spilled out: “Hi. I have no skills, but I want to work for you guys. What can I do?”

The recruiter asked, “Do you go to MIT?” Can you read? Can you write?” After each question, Olatunji answered in the affirmative. “Then you have the basic skills to learn all the other skills. MIT saw something in you. Don’t ever say that to someone you want to work for—start again.”

“Then he smiled,” says Olatunji. “He had a smile that made you feel comfortable. He didn’t dismiss me—he waited patiently.” So Olatunji started again. He said, “Hi, my name’s Bayo. I’m a sophomore. I’m not taking computer science classes, and I’m not sure there are any internship positions at Microsoft for people like me—who think they want to do computer science but aren’t sure.” The recruiter told him about the Explore Microsoft program, a cross-discipline internship designed for college freshman and sophomores. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be in tech,” says Bayo. The opportunity was exactly what the MIT student was looking for.

Mainly geared toward science, technology, engineering, and math majors, the Explore Microsoft program offers an introduction to different software engineering roles. Any student who’s passionate about technology and enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in the United States, Canada, or Mexico can apply. The only requirements: all applicants must have completed an “introduction to computer science” course (or equivalent) and a calculus class (or equivalent) prior to starting.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be in tech.”

Students learn about end-to-end software development during the twelve-week summer internship. They work in a team with two or three other students, and tackle projects as a team. For four weeks, interns work in the Program Manager (PM) position, and for eight weeks, they work as a software engineer. During the software engineering phase of their internship, students also perform quality (testing) work.

Currently a PM II on the Windows Experience Reach team, Olatunji had an Explore Microsoft internship back in 2008, when the program was relatively new. This past September marked his fifth anniversary at the company. “The earlier you can jumpstart your career on what you think you want to do, the more opportunities you have to test the water, and fine tune what you want to learn back in school,” he says.

“Freshman and sophomores often don’t believe they’ll get an internship early on,” says Karishma Irani, who heads up the Explore Microsoft Program. She recommends students “take time to attend a Microsoft presentation or career fair” at their college to learn more. If the company doesn’t visit their school, students can apply online.

Irani suggests college freshmen and sophomores take an “introduction to computer science” course and a calculus class, so they’ll be eligible. “Students need to have confidence they can get accepted,” says Irani. The first step of the process is a 30-minute interview, either in-person on their college campus or via phone.

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University Recruiting Program Manager, Karishma Irani

“Think through all the different things you have listed on your resume,” says Irani. Students who can speak clearly about their experience will show recruiters “their passion for technology and interest toward computer science.”

Students can also reference interview tips on Microsoft’s site. “Practice with your friends and any seniors in your school who have interviewed for the program” says Irani. “Practice answering problem solving and technical questions—especially for any coding languages listed on your resume.”

Ify I., a junior at Princeton University, was hired for the program last summer. She has advice for the interview. “Be confident in your abilities. Make sure you can communicate your ideas and what you’re thinking,” she says. “They do ask logic questions. They want you to be able to talk through your thinking. If you have a problem, you need to be able to tell your mentor or teammate.” Ify had previously completed a non-tech related internship in India, which she described during her interview. “It’s great if you have something that interests you. Don’t try to be something you’re not,” she says.

During her chat with the recruiter, Ify felt like it was okay that she didn’t have a lot of coding experience. She was looking for an internship that would allow her to learn while she worked. The program “emphasized the learning aspect of coding—that you’re not in it alone.”

While on campus, she talked with people in different affiliation groups, which helped her realize that “even though it’s a huge company, it is very interconnected.” She likes that interns have the freedom to “try as many things as possible to figure out what they want to do.”

“The mentorship was amazing. There was a lot of help.”

“There were lots of cool, exciting projects people were working on,” says Ify. “The mentorship was amazing. There was a lot of help.” She found her experience “overwhelmingly positive.” She’s already recommended the internship to several classmates.

She also appreciated all the social activities built into her summer—both planned and spontaneous. She went on hikes, attended Seattle’s bohemian Fremont Solstice parade, saw Fourth-of-July fireworks exploding above Lake Union, and took a cruise to Blake Island, where they “ate and played lawn games.”

But the pinnacle affair of any intern’s summer is Microsoft’s Signature Event. Last August, Ify and her intern friends heard Ellie Goulding sing at the Seattle Center—an exclusive concert. Before the evening was over, each student received a Surface Book laptop.

Instagram Photo

“My calendar has never been busier than it was during my Explore Microsoft internship. The organizers do such a great job of making sure you get exposed to different areas of Microsoft and that you’re—quite literally—exploring,” says Chuma Kabaghe, a software developer who just celebrated her one-year anniversary at Microsoft.

Kabaghe attended “brown bag” lunchtime talks and became more knowledgeable about different areas of technology. She learned what Microsoft was working on and the many different types of teams at the company. Early on, she “realized program management is not exactly my thing.” The “ridiculously insane amount of opportunities” to learn about the tech field and the roles at Microsoft led her to “make a more informed decision” about her future. “After the Explore Microsoft internship, I was more comfortable taking the software engineer path,” she says.

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Working for change from inside Microsoft https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/working-for-change-from-inside-microsoft/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/working-for-change-from-inside-microsoft/#respond Thu, 02 Feb 2017 14:00:48 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=25385 A framed photo of Albert Einstein, emblazoned with a quote, hangs in Stuart Pixley’s office. ‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious,’ it reads. “I fell in love with that poster,” says Pixley. Not surprising for someone who would like nothing better than to be a professional student if he wasn’t practicing […]

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A framed photo of Albert Einstein, emblazoned with a quote, hangs in Stuart Pixley’s office. ‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious,’ it reads. “I fell in love with that poster,” says Pixley. Not surprising for someone who would like nothing better than to be a professional student if he wasn’t practicing law.

While his business card identifies Pixley as in-house legal counsel for the company, he has another role as well. He’s a champion for diversity.

Whether he’s practicing law or supporting inclusion, Pixley appreciates that at Microsoft, he has the freedom to do both. He’s a frontline attorney advising the Microsoft Health team about anything involving medical regulations.

Before he arrived at the company, Pixley worked in a variety of private law firms. Changing jobs wasn’t always by choice. Two of his previous employers’ firms collapsed—one less than a year after he started. In 2008, with the stock market plunging and the dust from his employer’s firm billowing behind him, Pixley reached out to a former coworker who was at Microsoft.

The networking paid off. There seemed to be an opening on his friend’s team, but that opportunity failed to blossom. Still, Corporate External Legal Affairs (CELA) helped him find another position, this one on the Antitrust Compliance Team.

Prior to working with Microsoft recruiters, he’d had to contend with companies treating him with “odd combinations of kid gloves” and “not taking him seriously enough.” Once he had an interviewer ask about the limits of reasonable accommodation—a subject completely unrelated to the position he was interviewing for. “As if I should know better than anyone else,” he says.

That “out of the blue” interjection put Pixley on edge. Immediately, he knew the questioner wasn’t interested in hiring him. “I just wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t want to be a disability rights lawyer,” he says. He’d been pigeonholed.

Decision makers can make assumptions, and they’re rarely flattering. Pixley did well in law school, and even though he did “a ton of interviewing,” he had “far fewer callbacks than other students.” Fortunately, job hunting has proved easier as he’s aged. “You have more accomplishments you can point to,” he says.

“Microsoft was ‘Marvelous'”

Refreshingly, his experience at Microsoft “was marvelous”. From the beginning, “it was clear folks were open-minded” and that they saw him “as an asset.” CELA recruiters talked about what it was like to work at the company. They were so forthcoming he easily visualized how he would fit. But what most impressed him was how they worked to find him a viable opportunity within their ranks after the first opening didn’t pan out. And after he started, CELA has encouraged his involvement in the department’s legal diversity efforts.

His diversity work has taken various forms. Six years ago, Pixley was instrumental in Microsoft joining the American Bar Association’s (ABA) “Pledge for Change.” The “Pledge” is modeled after the “Call to Action” program. Companies that connect with the program assert they value increasing race and gender diversity in the legal profession. The “Pledge” is the disability version of that same concept, and it brings disability into a diversity framework.

He finds Microsoft’s willingness to think about disability in a diversity context welcome and unique. When a company uses this framework, it is affirming that people with disabilities are an integral part of the diversity community. “It flips the discussion entirely,” says Pixley.

Suddenly, “the company’s internal awareness isn’t focused on ‘let’s accommodate the individual,’ but on ‘cultural competence for the company,’” he says. The shift “does more than include diverse people—it empowers them.”

This evolution is central to Microsoft’s ability to innovate—to create technologies built for all customers—and is essential to the company fulfilling its mission: to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Pixley is enjoying his new role on the Artificial Intelligence & Research team, where he acts as frontline counsel for the Microsoft Health Team. This is a more business-focused position than his previous job on the Antitrust Compliance Team, where he specialized in transactional law.

Rima Alaily, assistant general counsel for the Cloud and Enterprise Marketing group—and the current lead for all CELA diversity—used to work with Pixley on his former team. As a coworker, Alaily appreciates how he’s willing to share his personal experience, which in turn educates those around him. He’s willing to talk about his own disability, the broader context of what it means to be disabled, the range of experiences people with disabilities have, and how they can contribute.

“I really value his grit and persistence,” says Mary Snapp, corporate vice president of Microsoft Philanthropies. She says Pixley “maintains optimism and perseverance” to making change, even when the pace might seem glacial.

In the spring of 2014, Snapp accepted, on Microsoft’s behalf, the ABA’s award for disability inclusion. The award recognizes a company’s commitment to increasing the disability diversity of its legal team.

Mario Madden, assistant general counsel for CELA, who hired Pixley onto the Health team earlier this year, mentioned that hearing Pixley’s laugh can “make people feel better.”

When the role in his group opened, Madden approached Pixley to see if he’d be interested in moving to a new team. Madden knew him as someone “who was super smart, results oriented, and very driven. Someone who got things done.”

Madden’s instinct was a good one. “He’s been a great fit,” he says. He’s come to count on Pixley’s ability to “bring humor and laughter to tense situations” and “provide a cooler head when people are getting heated.”

But it’s not only Pixley’s good nature and legal acumen that impresses his boss—it’s the way he’s approached learning a new role. He saw Pixley demonstrate “a curiosity and an ability to consume information” that stood out. “It’s not just a job for him—he enjoys being faced with challenging situations and learning about them as deeply as he can,” says Madden.

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Q&A with actress, author, and producer, Marlee Matlin https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/qa-actress-author-producer-marlee-matlin/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/qa-actress-author-producer-marlee-matlin/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:00:29 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=25196 Regardless of the barriers she has faced, Marlee Matlin has refused to let the naysayers get in the way of her success. As she has stated, “The only thing I can’t do is hear. The rest is there for the taking.” Earlier this month we invited academy award winning actress, author, producer and mother, Marlee […]

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Regardless of the barriers she has faced, Marlee Matlin has refused to let the naysayers get in the way of her success. As she has stated, “The only thing I can’t do is hear. The rest is there for the taking.”

Earlier this month we invited academy award winning actress, author, producer and mother, Marlee Matlin to come share her story on how she achieved her dreams. At Microsoft, we believe our mission can only succeed if our culture is grounded in a growth mindset, where we are continuously learning. Each month we invite thinkers, doers, and shakers–people who have made a difference. This event is called, ‘Outside In’.

Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim for her film debut in “Children of a Lesser God,” for which she received the Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for her film debut. In addition to the Oscar, Matlin received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama.

Since then, Matlin has starred in numerous film and television projects, including “Seinfeld,” “The West Wing,” “The Practice,” and “Law and Order SVU,”—garnering four Emmy nominations along the way. Matlin has helped raise awareness for better hearing health for millions of deaf and hard of hearing children and adults in developing countries. Most recently, she was instrumental in getting federal legislation passed in support of Closed Captioning both on television and on Internet broadcasts.

Marlee passionately answered some questions from us, about the importance of focusing on ‘ability’ instead of ‘disability’, inclusive office culture, and of course, how to ignore the ‘naysayers’ in your career.

Marlee Matlin at Microsoft's Outside In event

Q: You have a great story about your parents wanting you to ‘grow up doing what you loved.’ At Microsoft, we believe that all employees should, ‘come as you are and do what you love.’ Your career is that ideal realized – what does that feel like?

A: I understand that people consider what I’ve done in my career as the realization of my dreams and that should feel great. But as long as there are individuals, for whatever reasons, who are unable to do what they love, who are prevented from achieving their dreams due to no fault of their own or because of barriers that are out there to prevent them, then I still believe there is more work to do. I can agree that personally, I have achieved so much, more than many had predicted, but for me, personal achievement is about living generously and sharing the formula for success with others who still face obstacles. So, in summary, it feels great but I have SO MUCH more to do!

Q: How do you achieve work life balance as an actress, author, producer, and mother?

A: I watched lots of “Bewitched” growing up and am able to split myself in two. Actually, it’s called being a Virgo and having a very understanding and supporting husband and family. We are very good planners and we simply take turns. Many times I am able to schedule work around my family and many times, I am not; that’s where my husband comes in. We have very extensive calendars, we try and get as much scheduled in advance and just make it work!

Q: What projects are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

A: I’m developing a comedy pilot for a digital comedy network as well as a pilot with actress Salma Hayek based on a true story that my producing partner and I found in the NY Times over a decade ago. I also am eager to reboot my YouTube pilot for “My Deaf Family,” (nearly 1 million views) and turn it into a reality series with a new family.

Q: We recently heard that you launched your own app. What incentivized you or sparked your interest?

A: So many people asked me where they could learn the basics of sign language when they were unable to find a local class or had difficulty learning from books. I quickly figured out that an app was a good place for teaching sign, considering that everyone carries their smart phones with them. So why not develop a basic primer for sign language and with me, who pretty much everyone knows as “that deaf actress!”

Q: You’ve stated, “The only thing I can’t do is hear, the rest is there for the taking”. Why is it important to focus on ‘ability’ instead of ‘disability’?

A: Labeling someone “disabled” – even if it’s just a word – already assumes failure or that something is lacking. I prefer to focus on the positives, of what you CAN do, of what you CAN achieve, rather than frame through the lens of “can’t do” or “impairment.” Words can make a big difference in how someone views themselves and I’m all about lifting people up rather than putting them down.

Q: Our Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft, recently shared her experience with ‘brick wall moments’ in her career, personal and professional challenges she’s faced along her way to success. Can you share a time where you came face to face with a personal or professional ‘brick wall’ and how you overcame that challenge?

A: The easiest one for me to remember and the one most people might have heard about was how critics, the day after I won the Oscar, said I would never work in Hollywood again simply because I didn’t speak or because I was Deaf. Despite the encouragement I got from my parents, friends like Henry Winkler and my teachers, that was the first time I saw myself as “handicapped.” And I hated it. So, what did I do? I followed examples of my family and mentors and I looked for advice. And for that I turned to my friend Henry Winkler who gave me the chance to reassess my career and helped put me on a path of self-determination, despite the odds. He did it with a wonderful quote that he had on a plaque that hung in his office – “If you will it, it is not a dream.” Basically, it was another way of saying, “Just do it.” And I did it. Today, it’s been 31 years and I’m still here, still working, still showing the naysayers I can do it.

Q: You have one of the most inspiring backstories in Hollywood – what would you say to someone who might feel defeated in their career? How should they ignore ‘naysayers’?

A: Like I said earlier, my dreams are not complete if there is one person out there who faces the same barriers as I did in my life and career. To that end, I say the same thing Henry and parents said to me – “Be creative. Make friends. Don’t give up!” The getting creative part is important because most times, people have no idea what you can do unless you SHOW them.

Q: You’re an advocate for diversity in the workplace. We certainly are as well. Why is an inclusive office culture so important?

A: It’s a reflection of the real world when diversity is part of one’s work environment. Life doesn’t choose who is where; it just happens, and it happens wonderfully, in all colors, in all different beliefs.  The work environment should reflect that too. The more different people you include the more you can achieve success together.

Q: Microsoft: If you could lead a project at Microsoft, what would you want to work on? What would your title be?

A: Creating better video conferencing systems, perhaps? Maybe my title would be “Director of Visual Communication Strategies!”

 

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Four Microsoft Internships and Counting https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/four-microsoft-internships-counting/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/four-microsoft-internships-counting/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2016 14:00:51 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=25124 Though he’s not yet graduated from college, Zimraan H. is no stranger to the way Microsoft works. This university junior already has four internships with the company under his belt. Next June, he’ll be starting his fifth. “I’m pretty sure it’s breaking a record,” he laughs. Many students start a Microsoft internship with a general […]

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Though he’s not yet graduated from college, Zimraan H. is no stranger to the way Microsoft works. This university junior already has four internships with the company under his belt. Next June, he’ll be starting his fifth. “I’m pretty sure it’s breaking a record,” he laughs. Many students start a Microsoft internship with a general enthusiasm for technology but no specific area of interest in the fieldhowever, Zimraan has always felt drawn to information security.

His interest started in high school, after a computer networking and security course. The technology class touched on router switch security—and Zimraan was hooked. “It caught my imagination because it was so real,” he says. “A lot of the stuff we had at home wasn’t secure.” Information security is a high-impact line of work, and Zimraan likes that he can “have a positive influence on it.”

Although it was a high school computer class that caught his interest, Zimraan has deepened his passion for information security on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. What keeps him coming back? He appreciates the company culture. He relishes the “awesome” projects he works on that “have an impact.” And, he loves how his “mentor, manager, and team members are always there” for him if he needs help. “They’ve been great to me,” he says.

“They keep supplying him with awesome projects and experiences, so he wants to come back and build on what he learned,” says Heidi Dowling, operations manager for the intern program. She and Zimraan grab lunch together every summer.

Dowling says the interns “bring such excitement to the company” that it’s palpable—over one thousand arrive on the Redmond campus every June. “I love having them here,” she says, “learning about what they’re working on, the awesome things they get to experience while they’re here—they have some amazing opportunities.” Interns aren’t relegated to performing inconsequential tasks. They work on real-world projects and “impact the business and the products that we’re shipping,” she says.

A Microsoft internship gives students a huge advantage. They have an opportunity to learn about and experience the company’s culture, and the team they’re working with has a chance to see them in action, both personally and professionally. “It’s like a 12-week interview while you’re here,” says Dowling.

But company internships aren’t just about work. Planned outings and social activities are as integral to a Microsoft internship experience as the time spent inside the campus buildings. Every summer, the company holds a big ‘Signature Event’ for student interns; last August, they attended an exclusive Ellie Goulding concert at the Seattle Center, where the singer’s strong lungs entertained the group. Every concert goer carried a Surface Book laptop home that night—Microsoft’s gift for all their hard work.

That event was a highlight of Zimraan’s summer. Another was a Microsoft-sponsored trip to Las Vegas, where he attended the ‘Black Hat USA’ security conference. During those four days, he “got to meet other industry leaders, learn about the bleeding edge in security technology, and see cutting edge hacks that will shape the future of security.”

Every internship has increased Zimraan’s knowledge of information security. He finds the field “a really cool place to be” and only sees it expanding. “It’s a crucial role,” he says. “You don’t think about your credit card or email being hacked until it happens.” He likes being one of the people who protects against a data security breach.

Last summer, his internship involved “improving cloud security” for Microsoft Azure. As part of the Information Security and Risk Management (ISRM) team, he worked in a Project Manager (PM) role to “develop features, track issues with bugs and get them resolved, and put more stuff into production.” He found the experience to be “a good challenge” as he was adding “a lot of PM skills” to his toolbox.

Zimraan enjoys PM work more than the developer side of engineering. He likes “working with so many different people to build something” and touching “every aspect of the project.”

“He did outstanding work,” says Don Nguyen, a security architect with ISRM, who mentored Zimraan for two years. “He impressed both me and our CISO.” Nguyen has watched Zimraan evolution from “high school kid” to college junior. “I hope to see him at Microsoft as a colleague,” he says.

Jeff Miller, a senior PM on the ISRM team and a former mentor to Zimraan, finds the student “extremely mature for where he is in his career path” and “very inclusive” as a team mate. He “makes sure everybody is brought into the project and things are communicated well.” That ability to “bring people together, define a team and keep people connected” is something Miller prizes in a colleague. And it’s Zimraan’s internships that have given Miller visibility into how his former mentee works with others. When he’s hiring talent, he says, “It’s something I look for in a manager.”

In a job market where the number of tech jobs outnumber the people who can fill them, Zimraan could work anywhere—but only one employer interests him. He wants to stay at Microsoft, where he’s had “so many opportunities to do great work.” He’s a very practical sort of person. “If I love what I do, and my team, and coming to work every day, then why would I leave?” he says.

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How one employee mapped her own role at Microsoft https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/one-employee-mapped-role-microsoft/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/one-employee-mapped-role-microsoft/#respond Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:00:00 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=18449 In his 25 years at Microsoft, Bjorn Rettig has never felt compelled to offer someone a job during an informational interview. But that all changed after he met Kasey Champion. “She was so excited about everything we were doing and where we were going with computer science education,” says Rettig, a senior director with the […]

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Kasey Champion on the Microsoft Redmond campus

In his 25 years at Microsoft, Bjorn Rettig has never felt compelled to offer someone a job during an informational interview. But that all changed after he met Kasey Champion. “She was so excited about everything we were doing and where we were going with computer science education,” says Rettig, a senior director with the Microsoft Learning Experiences team.

For Champion, who just celebrated her fourth anniversary with the company, joining Rettig’s team has been the fulfillment of everything she’s worked toward at Microsoft. She’s able to combine her passion for teaching and her enthusiasm for computer science. In fact, Champion’s talk at this year’s Grace Hopper conference was entitled “Technology and Education: Combining Your Two Passions into One Career.”

This education enthusiast arrived at Rettig’s group from the Office 365 team, after volunteering for every education-related opportunity she could find. At one point, she volunteered to be the coordinator for her team’s Give-campaign events; she organized one gathering that centered on education. The Learning Experiences team attended the party, and when they discovered how excited she was about computer science education, someone said, “You know we create computer science curricula at Microsoft, right?”

Not long after she met the Learning team, she joined its ranks. Her eagerness and enthusiasm for their endeavor was so contagious they added an additional role for her, developing computer science coursework and teaching. Now, she’s paid to do work she previously volunteered for, and it’s felt like hitting the jackpot. “I had no idea my dream job was right here at Microsoft,” she says.

How did her boss feel about the move? “He was amazing,” says Champion. Her joy was so obvious he encouraged her switch. “I keep making moves based on what I’m really excited about,” she says. And, because she’s so clearly followed her passions, her managers have been supportive.

People who want to map their own careers are a good fit at Microsoft—it’s part of the company’s culture—and Champion has deliberately forged her own path. She’s also taken many switchbacks along that route. She had a Project Manager (PM) role before taking a developer (dev) position on the Office 365 team.

Dev work felt like a better fit. But moving into a new kind of role was essentially “setting reset” on her career. Most first-level developers are hired straight out of college. For 12 months, Champion worked extra hard to catch up.

During this time period, she was also starting her second year as a volunteer teacher with Microsoft’s incubator nonprofit: Technology Education And Literacy in Schools (TEALS). The organization empowers young people by offering computer science classes in high schools.

Champion piled more work on herself; she spent hours prepping for class. When her dev lead saw how much “time and care” she put into lesson plans, and the vast contrast between how the TEALS-related work and the dev-related work fed her happiness, he encouraged her to look for a role more closely related to her passion. “That was a very kind thing for someone in a leadership role to do,” she says.

His suggestion is just one example of a manager helping an early career employee live the Microsoft maxim “Come as you are, do what you love.” Incidentally, the timing of her dev lead’s suggestion couldn’t have been better. She met the Learning team soon after.

Champion has taught in the U.S. and abroad. Last June, she flew to rural Tanzania to teach coding, plus computer and career skills. Some schools, without electricity and internet, required her to improvise, so she taught computational-thinking courses instead. “What are they going to do with computer science? They’re going to learn how to solve problems,” she says. Her two-week trip was sponsored by Microsoft’s “MySkills4Afrika” program, a venture that supports Microsoft employees’ travel to African nations, where they share their skills.

Here at home, she’s starting her third year as a TEALS teacher. Every morning, she’s in a South Seattle high school, sharing her passion for computer science. Students lucky enough to study with Champion receive a taste of tech culture. She treats them like adults—no hall pass necessary. In return, she tells them, “I’ll have high expectations and I’ll give you all the support that you need.”

Champion gives each student individual attention, and acknowledges their frustration when they’re learning how to code and build solutions. “When I was learning this, it drove me insane,” she tells them. But she doesn’t dwell in that frustration. When she hears a triumphant “Yes!” from somewhere in the classroom, she asks, “What just happened? Share it with the classroom!” She’s jokingly considered buying bells for the students, so they can ring them to celebrate a successful code compilation.

When Champion thinks about her career journey, and where she’s arrived, she sees herself as having gotten to a place where her work is something she “gets to do”—it’s not something she “has to do.” She’s already passed insights she’s gained along this path to her student mentees.

She tells them to find work they love. “You’ll never find more doors open and more opportunities come to you than when you’re sparkling because you’re working on something you’re passionate about,” she says.

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Backstage with Trevor Noah https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/backstage-trevor-noah/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/backstage-trevor-noah/#respond Fri, 11 Nov 2016 13:00:10 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=18257 Last week we invited the wildly inspirational TV show host, comedian, and author, Trevor Noah, to come speak to our Microsoft community. We went backstage before his talk to chat about his new book: Born a Crime, the importance of diversity in the workplace, and why it’s okay to be wrong sometimes. He shared his […]

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Last week we invited the wildly inspirational TV show host, comedian, and author, Trevor Noah, to come speak to our Microsoft community. We went backstage before his talk to chat about his new book: Born a Crime, the importance of diversity in the workplace, and why it’s okay to be wrong sometimes. He shared his thoughts about embracing being underestimated, and hypothetically, if he became a Microsoft employee tomorrow, what his title would be and what he would work on. 

At Microsoft, we believe our mission can only succeed if our culture is grounded in a growth mindset, where we are continuously learning. Each month we invite thinkers, doers, and shakers–people who have made a difference – to talk with our Microsoft community. Speakers like, Marcus Samuelson, Arianna Huffington, and Carly Lloyd to name a few. This series is called ‘Outside In”.

Watch our backstage interview to learn more.

 

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Designer keeps passion for photography in sharp focus https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/designer-keeps-passion-photography-sharp-focus/ https://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/designer-keeps-passion-photography-sharp-focus/#respond Thu, 27 Oct 2016 13:00:49 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/jobs/?p=18059 On most weekends, Nitish Kumar Meena grabs his camera and hiking boots and sets off for places he’s never been to capture unforgettable moments: A burst of pink sunlight over snow-streaked mountains. The tip of a kayak parting a clear-blue lake. A shimmering night sky. His photography is an artistic testament to the array of […]

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On most weekends, Nitish Kumar Meena grabs his camera and hiking boots and sets off for places he’s never been to capture unforgettable moments: A burst of pink sunlight over snow-streaked mountains. The tip of a kayak parting a clear-blue lake. A shimmering night sky.

His photography is an artistic testament to the array of natural wonders he’s explored in the nearly two years he’s lived in Washington state, from the majesty of Mount Rainier to the ocean-side cliffs of California to the long shadows and pale glaciers of rugged Alaska.

Nitish Kumar Meena in Seattle

UX Designer Nitish Kumar Meena

But what for most people would be a respite from the workweek is a passion he’s able to incorporate into his. Meena’s managers recognize his talent and enthusiasm for photography and have found many ways for him to bring that pursuit into his daily job at Microsoft.

“That’s one thing I find is really rare,” Meena says. “If I worked at another company, I’m not sure I’d get that same level of opportunity.”

Meena is a user-experience designer for Microsoft Flow, a service that saves people time by uniting their apps to accomplish certain tasks automatically. You can create a flow that saves all your email attachments to a SharePoint site, for example, or logs your Twitter mentions on an Excel spreadsheet, or even makes emails from your boss trigger an alert to your phone.

“The freedom to create really powerful and engaging solutions is the thing that I really like,” Meena says. “And I know what we are creating, millions of people are using.”

In that already creative environment, he says, the unexpected opportunities to tap into his love of photography makes his job even better. He’s been called upon for projects ranging from taking portraits of employees and execs to executing elaborate photo shoots of people and products to be used for product launches and websites across Microsoft’s broad Cloud + Enterprise group.

“We’ve been able to move things forward in ways that we wouldn’t have been able to, and really humanize our products, thanks to his gift with the lens,” says Jonah Sterling, partner director design manager for Business Applications, Platform and Intelligence.

Sterling first met Meena at a design conference in India several years ago and says he could see the potential of someone who, given the right role to fit his personality and allow him to grow, would “be able to do amazing things over the course of time.” His photography was part of that.

“When we hire somebody, we’re not just hiring that one skill, that they can design,” Sterling says. “I look for what else makes them an artist so that we can bring that in — so that we’ve got all of their excitement and all of their ambition behind the product that they’re working on.”

Meena lives life with purpose that’s evident on the Instagram account that documents his devotion to nature and new experiences. “We don’t remember days; we remember moments,” he writes. “New adventures never disappoint.” He urges his followers to “make sure to get offline” on weekends and to “do more things that make you come alive.”

Photo by Nitish Kumar Meena

Photo by Nitish Kumar Meena

Yet his discovery of his artistic side came somewhat by chance. He grew up in India, where he says there were two main tracks for higher education — engineering and medicine. His parents expected that he would study engineering like his older brother. It was considered a safe path as well as a prestigious one, he says, but it just wasn’t that close to his heart.

It wasn’t until he was getting ready to take a college entrance exam that he came across a mention of another discipline he hadn’t realized was a possibility: design. He wasn’t an artist or, as a child, even a good painter. Still, the idea intrigued him. He asked other students about it. It didn’t seem to involve the same long hours of study as engineering — or all the dreaded math.

“It’s a creative career, so there are less rules when you compare it with other disciplines,” he says. “You get more freedom in what you create. And just that sense that many people will use, and actually touch and feel the product or experience that I will be creating — I think that was my incentive.”

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Nitish Kumar Meena with his camera

He pursued design at the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, and turned his attention to photography when he noticed most of the other students had some sort of hobby. He persuaded his dad to lend him $500 for his first camera.

At first, “it sounds so simple and stupid, but I was just taking pictures of the clouds,” he says. “Every sunset, I had my camera with me. Raindrops, clouds — that was my focus, just to understand that one small thing of nature.”

In his final semester of college, he and his classmates got the chance to work on a project for Microsoft, and he says the experience ultimately landed him a tour of the “super fancy building” that houses Microsoft’s design studio in Hyderabad — and a job offer. 

He began working in user-experience design for Visual Studio in 2012 and recalls being able to develop his skills in a relaxed and supportive setting.

“Everyone was super helpful. Even my manager was like, ‘You can do it. And if you want to do something else, just let me know,’” he says. “There was that sense of freedom when I joined Microsoft.”

A couple of years later, Meena was thinking about what it might be like to work at the company’s headquarters. He’d been to Washington state and says he “fell in love with it.” When Sterling came to India for a design conference, Meena made sure to connect with him in case any opportunities came up.

Photo by Nitish Kumar Meena

Photo by Nitish Kumar Meena

Sterling eventually introduced him to Jesse Francisco, now a principal user-experience manager for Business Applications, Platform and Intelligence, and Francisco hired him for a role at headquarters. Meena struck Francisco as someone who had “a really good eye for aesthetics,” as well as a slick design style that was “very modern and progressive.”

Meena had included some photography in his design portfolio, which also caught Francisco’s eye.

“It’s always great seeing people whose passion and work life start melding into one another,” Francisco says. “So seeing his photography — which is fantastic! — was like the frosting on a very delicious cake.”

He says Meena also had a strong ability to explain the reasoning behind his design work.

 “I think people often think that design is just making things pretty. That is one approach; it’s not our approach,” Francisco says. “For him to be able to articulate what problems he was attempting to solve and then showing the proof of how he solved them was particularly powerful.”

“One thing that I personally love, love, love about Microsoft is the work-life balance.”

Meena says he enjoys designing user experiences in Microsoft Flow, a product he uses himself for things like automatically tweeting photos he posts on Instagram. He’s also grateful his job provides enough flexibility to allow him to explore nature around the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

“One thing that I personally love, love, love about Microsoft is the work-life balance, and there are so many inspiring souls on our team,” he says.

He says having a great job also gives him the ability to indulge his passion for photography without feeling like he needs to turn it into a way to support himself. He’s sold a photos here and there, and had some published a few months ago by Business Insider, but he doesn’t feel any need to market his work.

“That’s the best part of it. I don’t put any pressure on myself,” he says. “I think the thing that keeps the freshness in my photographs is the authenticity that comes from having no pressure. Just freedom.”

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