Meet Microsoft high school intern Ashley Palermo

 |   Ashley Palermo, Microsoft high school intern

Microsoft intern Ashley Palermo

My internship at Microsoft New York’s Technology Center (MTC) all began a year ago at Girls Who Code (GWC)—which in fact, also took place at the MTC. The GWC Summer Immersion Program gave me the empowerment I needed to go out and ask for an internship in the first place. I learned how to code in six different languages: JavaScript, HTML, CSS, C, Django, and Python. It was fun learning with twenty other girls that were just as confused as me and were working as a team to figure out all these solutions for the challenges that our teachers threw at us. GWC allowed me to become more comfortable in my own skin. I acquired the chance to network with KKR, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and News Corporation. I continued my computer science studies the following year and learned Java, totaling my knowledge to seven coding languages, which I plan to improve every day.

With my new networking skills, I created an account on LinkedIn the day after I turned 16 and connected with many of the people that I have met at Microsoft. In November of 2017, I contacted Donna Abrusci, who was one of the people sponsoring the GWC program at Microsoft, and I wanted to know if there would be a summer internship for high schoolers in the summer of 2018. They are so difficult to find and I wanted to continue my education in the business world beyond what public schools teach. Therefore, I kept reaching out every few months and she sent me an application. I sent it to Antuan Santana, who was sponsoring GWC as well; we met up a week after I sent in my application at a DigiGirlz two-day camp in May, and I have since reunited with the MTC once again and refreshed on my computer skills.

Ashley (pictured in silhouette) at the Microsoft Technology Center’s envisioning center

In June, I received an invitation for an interview and I was so excited that I confused the day of my actual interview and came into the city a week early! But it was okay—I still had my mojo. At the interview, I used my lessons learned at GWC: I shook the director, Manish Bhatt’s, hand firmly and delivered eye contact; I got a lot of more insight into what I would be doing if I got the internship, and what I needed for my future as an engineer. Every day after my shift as a lifeguard at the beach was over, I would be checking my email hoping that I got the internship. A few weeks later I got an email from Antuan. When I saw “Congratulations!” I was jumping for joy. I was so happy that I accepted immediately after I read the email. It was a chance for me to work with amazing people like Manish Bhatt, Stephen Jeffries, Cat Susch, Brendan Hancock, Larry Claman, Andres Ravinet, Ivan Kosyakov, Alex Shteynberg, and many people from the company—some of whom that were shocked when I introduced myself as a high schooler.

I have learned so much about technology, from the cloud, to hydroponic pods and how they will allow future generations the opportunity to eat fresh food, to how a company works, and I learned many life lessons that I will remember forever. I gained leadership skills that will empower me to achieve my dream of saving the planet from self-destruction. This experience was truly amazing in every way and I cannot wait for what my future will hold with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am so honored that Microsoft chose me to intern and could not have become the person I am today without their generosity. I am proud to be a part of this company and cannot wait to see what the future will hold next.