Welcome to Microsoft By Sarah Rosenquist – An Intern’s Experience

My Background

I grew up in a very tech-heavy environment – both of my parents were computer science graduates and I can remember learning the alphabet through a computer game. So needless to say, gadgets and electronics naturally get me excited.

All that being said, instead of following in the footsteps of my parents I decided to take the route of pursuing a business degree at Wilfrid Laurier University. After two years of study, I was to head to my first co-op placement… and never did I imagine that at 20 years old I would have Microsoft in the employment history section of my resume.

Going into the office for training, I purposely didn’t set many expectations (mostly because this was my first “corporate office” type of job). I knew I was going to be doing marketing, but it’s such a broad concept that I had no real idea of the specifics that I would see day-to-day. Now that my term is done, I still don’t know if I can succinctly summarize the activities I was involved in, other than that they were all fun and challenging experiences.

The Position

My 8-month role at Microsoft was that of a “Marketing Associate” in the business group that was responsible for all of the Server products & tools. Definitely not one of the sexiest marketing jobs out there, but our group drives a large percentage of the company’s revenue.

My activities varied and evolved throughout the term: I purchased thousands of dollars of what we call “chachka” (really it just means giveaways), I planned, organized, coordinated, and attended countless events, spearheaded Microsoft’s presence at an industry-leading conference on computer security, sourced content for a monthly newsletter that is read by over 19,000 subscribers, researched specific vertical industries, developed creative materials, went through the entire hiring process involved with finding my replacement, and the list goes on.


The Environment

It’s hard for most people to believe that the culture in our office is casual and cool; I myself didn’t buy it until I showed up on my first day feeling way overdressed. When most people think about Microsoft, I find they tend to push the company in to a corporate stereotype, “Surely in a company this big, the people must be very one-dimensional: work, work, work.” It is true that there are a significant amount of driven, Type-A personalities… however there is so much more to them all.

Honestly, this was the biggest relief for me because I don’t really like the idea of having to change myself in order to conform to a corporate culture. I was completely accepted in the office with flaming red/orange hair (it depended on my mood that month), casual dress, and not to mention the ½ inch holes in my ear lobes. Obviously there’s a time when this isn’t appropriate – when you are customer-facing – but there was no need to feel uncomfortable when you’re sitting at your desk.  

The End Result

Now that I’m back at school and out of the Microsoft building, I can really see the reciprocal impacts that were made between the company and myself. The culture opened itself up to me and accepted me as the individual I was, and at the same time I opened up myself to the Microsoft cause and know now that I will always be involved with the company in some way or another. Right now, I am being contracted to run one of the company’s websites, www.webcentralstation.ca, while I am in school (separate from the co-op program).

Shameless plug – if you are a developer you should get in contact with me about the site and I may be able to find a way to involve you!

So it seems for me, with this new job offer, the beginnings of a career are starting to take shape. And what did I do to achieve this? It’s actually pretty simple (and corny)…

My Two Cents of Advice

The best advice I can give as far as getting into Microsoft or being successful there is concerned is… be yourself. You can bring so much more to the table when you feel free as an individual, and you will get so much more of a reward in return. I interviewed 10 hopeful students who had a shot at being my successor, but the ones that stood out most were the ones that spoke intelligently but freely and let their personality shine through. Once you’re in, it’s all about the “work hard, play hard” mentality. If my lengthy diatribe has given you any inkling to try out an internship with MS, give it a shot. It’s worth it.

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