Drinking about Community, Part 2 and a word to the job seekers

So last night was a continuation of the Drinking about Community Jas Sandhu and I pulled together before. I like how it's developing as an adhoc shindig (only when Justin Grant is in town, but the poor dude couldn't make it last night with last minute work). I had folks start at the Belltown Pub because it had outdoor seating and was really a quick walk (or stagger) to other great venues in Belltown if people got bored with the first choice.

A big finger wag of shame to Charles Torre, who last minute bailed on us. It probably kept us from getting arrested or thrown out of somewhere 😉  but I think he owes a round of drinks next time. Lenn couldn't make it (a small matter of living in California) but I owe him a latte. Have to remember that. Community divas must pay their debts.

Newcomers to the roundtable were Andy Oakley, MSDN pm for Workspaces and Annotations, Josh Ledgard, and his amazing wife Gretchen who runs the popular “Technical Careers at Microsoft” blog. She made me promise to blog about something, which I will, at the end of this post. The tavern-savvy Sean Kollenkark, who will no doubt pick the next venue, and of course Jas the Developer Evangelist Leader came from before.

What was cool about these community discussions is the varying perspectives. Josh is the team lead for community in Visual Studio, herding community cats for a living.. Gretchen is in recruiting, subject to the tsunami wave of resumes. Andy worked on Gotdotnet, as did Sean, both in a pm and developer capacity. Gretchen sees the eager young hopefuls; Josh creates a community dialogue while leading his community leads to make their own conversations, Sean and Andy build stuff but have talked with the Gotdotnet community for quite some time. 

The talk reminded me: there is no “one ring to rule them all” viewpoint about community at Microsoft - everyone is going about creating the connection in different ways and with different strategies. People came to Microsoft from different places - Andy from Great Britain, Sean from the wilds of Montana, and me from the wilds of ...best not get into that. It's right that we should come from different angles, but also that our approaches may appeal to different audiences. That is all to the good.

We swapped stories about how we came to Microsoft, and Gretchen made me promise to blog about the fact that I've personally been through perhaps half a dozen full-court-press/firing line/“blue badge” interviews at Microsoft. Over the years, I've been told I wasn't “Microsoft enough” and that “I didn't understand the Internet”  (I'm still cranky about that one - it was someone who had done Web dev work for two years and at the time of the interview I'd been doing Web work professionally for about 6 years and had worked on HTML pages before Netscape supported tables. Go figure.).

Don't get me wrong, I also got a few thumbs up: "Not right for this position, but right for Microsoft." I imagine I confused a lot of recruiters and HR people ("Why does this girl keep coming back?" "Didn't we see her before?" "Aiiieeeeeeeeeee, not her again!" ). Big thank you to MSDN's  Sara Williams (who is also no slouch by the way when it comes to grilling-I-mean-interviewing ) for giving me my chance.

There is a big difference between me, say, and Robert Scoble  getting his job. 🙂

Regardless of interview technique, what proves to me that I'm “Microsoft material” is that I never gave up. Whether I am a great interview candidate or not, I care about what I do, and it really matters to me to have a job where I can create something bigger than myself and my petty neuroses. 😀

When you are unemployed, hearing the “have passion speech” can be annoying and frustrating, I know. And in this economy, the wait can be longer than you ever wanted to face. But hang in there, and keep at it. If you are that determined to achieve excellence, Microsoft wants you. We just may not know it yet. 🙂

Did that do it, Gretchen?

Live it vivid!

Comments (20)
  1. I wish I could have been there. Next time!

  2. Chris Kinsman says:

    Been there. I think I am just shy of a half dozen full court press interviews. My favorite comment after one was that I was "To tactical and not strategic enough".

    The end result is that I have recently turned down several invitations to do the "full court press" as you put it. I am not going back until I see a job that there is no question in my mind that I must have.

  3. gretchen says:

    Wow – I’m "amazing?" Cool. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your story about the interview process. It’s completely frustrating, but you are proof that cracking through the red tape can happen!

  4. Nikki says:

    Last time, I was told that I was great but still too green. I’ve up to three loops now. I hope I never see half a dozen like you. I will implode.

  5. dxp says:

    Am I Microsoft material? http://pages.sbcglobal.net/gonda/my_resume.htm

    I have a great job, but I crave so much to join Microsoft. The technologies, the culture, the people, and Don Box. This is my dream. I know


  6. Betsy says:

    Heh. We all crave Don Box. All you can do in the meanwhile is read the man’s blog and hope he noticed you at developer conferences.

    But seriously, contact Gretchen and the HR posse – they are the ones who can get you channeled into the HR process. I refuse to look at anyone’s resume until I get my own nefarious minions, I mean headcount, allocated. Since that’s not happened yet, talk to Gretchen.

  7. Good to meet you Betsy (via Gretchen’s blog). My favorite was "too creative" which came after "not enough design skills." But be careful on trumpeting the "microsoft hire, just not for this" status, it got me a "too arrogant" once, which I will probably never live down. Thanks for posting your story, I’m still too shy to do it myself.

  8. Don "noticing you" is not necessarily a good thing. 🙂 http://blog.donnael.com/2004/04/don-box-got-me.html

  9. dxp says:

    Oh no you guys, I just wanted to get an assessment of whether I fit the bill of an MS employee. Trying to see where I stand relative to you guys. Someday I want to join Microsoft and experience the whole deal. I think there’s a lot of similarities between Intel and Microsoft – I’m just fascinated with the products you guys develop. Don is my Idol – I totally respect the way he educate.


  10. Due to the unseasonably warm temperatures gracing Western Washington of late, I’ve been enjoying outdoor activities like boating and baseball (spectator only – of course) and neglecting some of my indoor activities like laundry and blogging.

  11. Due to the unseasonably warm temperatures gracing Western Washington of late, I’ve been enjoying outdoor activities like boating and baseball (spectator only – of course) and neglecting some of my indoor activities like laundry and blogging.

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