My First Week as a Microsoft Intern
It’s surreal that this summer I get to call Redmond, WA my home and Microsoft my employer. It all happened so fast: the interviews, the end of finals week, the flight to Seattle, and the first week at Microsoft. Saturday morning I was taking my last final as a junior and Monday morning I was going to New Employee Orientation to kick off my summer as an electrical engineering intern.
Needless to say, the past week has been an amazing whirlwind.
Day One: Monday 5/20/19
New Employee Orientation: a time to learn about our game-plan for the summer. We all had gotten offer letters and learned about our benefits, had signed up for Camp Microsoft and joined Facebook groups to learn about upcoming events, but there was still more to learn about the place we’d be working at for the next 12 weeks.
We started off with the basics, an overview of Microsoft’s divisions and history, but then dove deeper into the culture. Satya Nadella, the CEO since 2014, has been pushing to create a healthy, diverse, innovative environment for all employees. This shift focuses around five pillars:
Grab an Oar
I can see already that Microsoft is trying to steer clear of their previous reputation as a competitive organization constantly pushing out new products and innovations. The company is trying to be more of a place for growth and empowerment, in addition to a tech powerhouse. Every employee gets a $50 new hire credit to donate to any organization of their choosing, and Microsoft matches up to $13,000 in donations. Health benefits are pretty solid—I’ll be able to get a new pair of glasses for basically free!—and there’s a health center on campus. Networking both inside and outside of teams is emphasized, stressing that everyone is open to speaking with interns (and employees in general) to give them a new perspective of the company.
I’m not gonna lie: big tech and its influence scares me. There have been so many scandals regarding the security of our data and news stories about multi-million dollar companies being bought out by multi-billion dollar companies. I’m a techie through and through, but a lot of the practices of these giant corporations make me feel concerned about their reach and their power over individual peoples’ lives.
Microsoft seems to be attempting to set themselves apart from that, especially through their mission statement: to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. I really hope that I see this statement embodied in my intern experience this summer, as well as within other large technical and non-technical organizations.
Day Two: Tuesday 5/21/19
In my opinion, Monday didn’t really count as my first day at Microsoft: it was a four hour presentation riddles with song, dance, and free swag. Tuesday was my first day on the job, the day I met my team, learned my project, and did some networking with fellow interns.
if you weren’t already aware, I’m an electrical engineering intern on the Devices team. Although I’m an electrical and computer engineering major, I’ve only held software engineering positions. My internship at Qualcomm last summer was a step towards interacting hardware, and this summer is the final leap to actually working with it.
The day kicked off with meeting my manager, mentor, and a few other team members. All of them were extremely encouraging and open, stressing that their doors/inboxes are always open if I have any questions, concerns, ideas, etc. I absolutely loved hearing that from everyone; It wasn’t as though my previous internships didn’t have this open-door policy, it was that it certainly wasn’t carved into my mind through repetition.
(I also learned that my manager checked out my blog before I started work, so shoutout to Victor if you’re reading this!)
In addition to getting a brief tour of the office and being introduced to some team members, I got a quick look at my project for the summer. I work on Devices, but I more specifically am an intern on the WiFI/Bluetooth DVSE team for Surface. That means that not only will I be working with both hardware and software, but I’ll also be putting my computer networks and telecommunications knowledge to the test, having just took the class this past semester.
(If I can be more specific about sharing what my project is, I’ll update this post! Microsoft has a strict NDA policy and I want to make sure I don’t accidentally spill any top-secret information.)
After work, a few of my housemates and I had our first Camp Microsoft event. Camp Microsoft is kind of like an intern homeroom group, where around 25 interns are able to bond across teams and departments through events at Microsoft and the Seattle area. I always thoroughly enjoy programs like this because it allows me to be constantly put into settings where I’ll meet even more people. I consider myself to be an extrovert with introverted tendencies, so being forced to mingle with new people is helpful.
The first Camp Microsoft event was a trivia night full of pizza and competition. Each group was split into a few smaller teams, each of which answered questions about everything from geography and celebrities to hard rock covers of pop songs. Saucy Memes for Trivia Teens didn’t take home the gold, but we did get to gain an appreciation for screamo covers of Britney Spears.
Day Three: Wednesday 5/22/19
It was finally time to buckle down and get some work done. Similar to my internship last summer at Qualcomm, there are a few training videos every new hire has to watch. They cover corporate privacy, security, and unconscious bias, and ended up being more enjoyable than expected (the videos themselves are well produced and have interesting storylines).
After a few hours of slogging through these units, I met up with one of my housemates for lunch at the Commons. The Commons is a large stretch of shops and restaurants within Microsoft’s campus. You can find almost anything there: pizzas and ramen and eyeglasses and bikes. My building is actually around a mile away from this area of campus, but Microsoft’s shuttle system makes it easy to travel between any buildings—all you have to do is request a ride and a driver will come to pick you and other employees up. I had already meal prepped for the week so I didn’t need to travel all that far for food, but I personally think it’s important to spend time outside of your office/building and get some fresh air with some fresh faces.
There was a Devices-intern-specific presentation later in the day to explain best practices as an intern, including how to act on business trips and when/where to share project information. This was similar to a few of the videos in one of my trainings but, like lunch, it was nice to see others while learning about the transition from a campus environment to a corporate structure (it also helped that it was mandatory).
Day Four: Thursday 5/23/19
I tackled more of my trainings and finished the first few chunks of documents to fill out as a new hire. I was finally able to dive into some of the materials that my mentor had forwarded over to me to serve as a foundation for some of the concepts I’d be working with on my project.
I was put into more networking situations, the first being simply sitting at my desk. A fellow female intern on Devices had seen me walking into my shared office and popped in to say hi. It was nice to meet someone around my age and in a similar employment position as myself, as well as to just generally speak with someone who was as outwardly passionate and excited as she was. Something I’ve noticed about Microsoft is that fewer intern relationships are forged at your desk or in your corridor because interns don’t typically get placed near each other unless they’re on the same team. Instead, there’s more of a focus on bonding via intern events and Camp Microsoft. I don’t know if I prefer this to Qualcomm’s method of sitting interns near each other and having fewer company-run intern events, but I’ll get used to it and will start pushing myself to meet more interns.
At lunch I got to meet the majority of the WiFi/Bluetooth DVSE team, who were all excited to share more about what they do for the team and how they spend their time in Seattle. I wasn’t on my A-game because I literally couldn’t hear out of my right ear (it was an ear blockage but I got it all fixed and ya gurl is rocking out to normal volume music now!), but I’m planning on grabbing lunch/coffee (hot chocolate for me, of course) with as many of them as possible. I’ve also signed up for a networking program between interns and FTEs (full-time engineers) so that’ll also help with trying to learn as much about Microsoft as possible.
My day concluded with a smaller peer-discussion about our first week as interns for Devices. These meetings fell under the pillar of “Be Human” and provided a space for us all to voice concerns, ask questions, and share stories. A lot of this meeting focused on enrolling in benefits and preparing for “shopping teams” (a period of time where interns speak to other teams when looking for future internship and full-time offers), and there will be a few more throughout the summer to check in with us periodically.
Day Five: Friday 5/24/19
At the start of the week, my mentor had sent a list of helpful articles and videos to look into, and I was finally able to complete them all. Some were a little dry or hard to read, but they were a great refresher on various computer networks and telecommunications concepts.
On another note, something I’m trying to do this summer is catch up on classes that I’ve already taken but remember nothing from. I feel like I spend a lot of the academic year drowning in problem sets and exams, and not nearly enough time reviewing materials and actually understanding theory/application. I’ve emailed all of my professors for textbook recommendations so I can brush up on some of the foundation of ECE that I’ve missed, completely misunderstood, or am a bit fuzzy on. I know I won’t be able to master everything, but I want to make sure my college career and the knowledge I’m supposed to acquire during it doesn’t go to waste. I’ll share more about my journey with that in later posts, but if you have any recommendations and/or want to join me, comment below or send me a message!
I also was able to bond with my mentor over a mutual love of food. It started as me wanting a few recommendations for dinner with a friend and spiraled into an in-depth look at a few of his favorite hole-in-the-wall places throughout Seattle and the surrounding area of Washington. I’m trying to get as much of a culinary look at the northwest as possible, so his extensive list and reasonings for each was both extremely helpful and a lot of fun.
That was the end of my first week as an intern! It seems kind of lame to celebrate the completion of the work week, but Microsoft was my dream job this year and it’s fully lived up to expectations so far. I’ve felt supported and welcomed, engaged and curious, and ready to take on the next eleven weeks. They’ll bring more challenges with my project, intern connections, and FTE relationships, but I’m excited to jump into the rest of the summer and see where it takes me!