The technical interview is one of the biggest barriers to entry in the technology industry pipeline. For students who may not have exposure to opportunities at technology companies, the barrier is even wider.
Our annual Mock Interview Day event at Microsoft New England Research and Development Center (NERD) aims to lower this barrier. During this interactive event, students meet with Microsoft volunteers for direct feedback and support on their interview skills and resumes.
We welcomed 96 students from 14 different schools to our sixth annual Mock Interview Day this month. Over 100 Microsoft employee volunteers served as interviewers, resume coaches, and presenters, giving students the skills and confidence needed to ace their first real-world interviews.
This year, our organizers faced the added challenge of transitioning our typically in-person event to a completely virtual and interactive experience. We wanted students to not only get just as much as they usually would out of Mock Interview Day in this new virtual format, but also be prepared to excel in the potential virtual-only interviews that they may face upon graduation.
“We wanted to continue creating opportunities for local students to learn from our experienced tech professionals, even during this pandemic, so it was paramount that we turn this into a virtual experience,” said Tarikh Campbell, Diversity & Inclusion program manager. “We were able to manage all of the events’ engagements using the many features of Teams and still create a feeling of connection among students that’s a hallmark of this event.”
In his opening remarks, Campbell shared that Mock Interview Day was founded by the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) employee resource group with the intention of opening the door for more inclusivity in technology careers. “No privilege should determine your access to a technology career,” he said.
Terrell Cox, GM of Azure, echoed this sentiment in her opening keynote. Diversity and inclusion is “the only way we will achieve our mission” to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, she said. “To build inclusive technology that works for everyone, our industry needs to reflect the vast nature of humanity. That’s what this event is all about.”
Cox shared advice to support the students as they navigate change and uncertainty in their lives and in the world. “The most important decisions I’ve made were often times when I’ve decided not to continue down a certain path,” she shared. “Don’t be afraid to change your fate.”
Before leaving the students to learn more about Microsoft’s interview process, Cox reminded the students that “Today is about empowering you. Lead with who you are. Today I encourage you to be authentically you.”
Following the keynote, several presenters shared details about the interview process for various fields including data science, research, and engineering. The presenters provided insight into and answered students’ questions about what it’s like to interview for specific roles at Microsoft.
In the second half of the day, students split into breakout groups on Teams. Microsoft employees reviewed students’ resumes and gave targeted feedback based on their desired career path. During one-on-one mock interviews, employee volunteers guided students through the virtual interview process and answered their questions.
“One of my biggest takeaways was to think about the specific type of opportunities I want and use my resume and interviews to make that clear,” said Adanna Abraham-Igwe, a first year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “As I received advice, I also recognized the value of communicating and meeting with experienced people.”
Mentorship is a vital tool for success in technology careers, as many Microsoft employees will attest. “As someone who received support from several mentors throughout my journey into Microsoft, my hope is to see this event continue to grow in scale — ultimately contributing to a more diverse and inclusive technology industry,” said Michael Amoako, program manager and Mock Interview Day volunteer.
Interested in a career here at Microsoft New England? Join us in empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Apply today.