Last month, we said goodbye to 45 incredibly talented Garage interns here at the NERD, Microsoft’s New England Research and Development center. These students came to us from Harvard, MIT, U. of Penn, Drexel, Princeton, Brown, RISD, SCAD, RIT, U. Mich, Carnegie Mellon, BU, Tufts, Northeastern, U. Mass Amherst, U. Mass Boston, Brandeis, Smith, and Bunker Hill.
The Microsoft Garage intern program offers talented students a unique opportunity to work in small teams, hack on contemporary technology, conduct customer research, design, and develop a product. Microsoft product groups compete to have Garage interns select their idea and build a prototype in twelve weeks. Projects that meet quality and readiness bars have the opportunity to ship as experimental projects for customer feedback. These innovative students are given the opportunity to unleash their ideas, follow their instincts, take risks, and exercise their creative muscle. They also learn new technologies, work closely with people of different backgrounds, and help foster a culture in which people are empowered, self-directed, and nimble.
As we sent these students back out into the wild world, I shared with them a few parting thoughts that will hopefully come in handy someday.
- You own your career. You. You own your success. You own your failure. Whatever path you choose to take moving forward, you own the outcome. Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen… make them happen. Scary, yes, but rewarding.
- Develop your soft skills. Your technical skills will only take you so far. You must also develop soft skills in order to be successful. Communication, collaboration, attention to detail, passion, drive, initiative. These skills will give you an advantage in all environments, not just work.
- Take risks. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Experiment. Take that leap. Don’t be afraid to fail for failure leads to learning. Apply that learning to the next risk you take.
- Connect. Get to know the people around you. Build lasting relationships. The best things you will ever make, you will make with other people. Build your network. The person sitting next to you may one day introduce you to <insert boss, colleague, person of interest here>.
This group of interns was… awesome. It has truly been an honor to watch them, mentor them, cheer for them, and learn from them over the last twelve weeks. I can honestly say that with young people like these, the future is bright. They will be missed.
This article originally appeared on Linda Thackeray’s LinkedIn page.