What it’s like plugging back into the Matrix – rejoining Microsoft

So, I've been back at Microsoft a few weeks now, and there are some things that are just overwhelming.  I like to tell people that being here is like "drinking from a firehose", and you only hope you can keep up... It is a lot of fun, though.

As I have the dubious(?) distinction of having gone through New Employee Orientation twice now, I got to see how the company has changed in the last 12 years since the first time I attended.  I shall comically summarize for you:

Old Way:

* 50 people started the same week as me

* get some handouts, listen to the HR person for awhile.  

* get told to figure out the various servers, people, etc..

* now go get to work!

Total time: ~3 hours?  I was then told to go learn COM on my first day, which was actually something I enjoyed at the time.


New Way:

* 250 people starting this week (that's a lot, and it's not actually everyone in the company starting that day)

* orientation was in about the same geographic location (though the old building was demolished several years ago to make way for the new building with bigger rooms and a piece of the Berlin Wall - a big piece). 

* Massive organization to get 250 people through all of the legal paperwork  - that was impressive to watch. 

* There are lots more videos in the presentations, lots of data about progressive company values, how we're supposed to be nice, etc..

*  The legal guys gave us a great presentation, as did about everyone else. 

* corn starch utensils, which are biodegradable - quite neat, actually.  Well, they don't work great and they are very bendy, so you feel like you are in a cartoon of some form, but eventually you figure them out.

* Lots more "go get access to this" which actually took several days, in total. 

Total time: 1.5 days to get through orientation, which was longer but not too bad.. I got a bit tired on the second day, but I also knew 80-90% of the material already since I worked at MS previously.


The scale of things is something that is difficult to imagine.  When you have groups of 1,000+ people, even that is hard to fathom.  Many of those people are doing something you don't even know, so you have a lot to learn and you are basically 1.5 days behind once you get to your group ;). Just kidding, but it can be overwhelming if you aren't ready for it.

Since I work remotely, I've been getting a handle on the tools to be work and collaborate remotely.  I'm getting lots better at Office Communicator 2007, which has some neat features around voice communication (I can talk from my computer to someone on the telephone, for example).  I'm also getting better at LiveMeeting 2007, which has some neat desktop sharing features as well.  There is a paradigm shift necessary to use these tools - I've been trying for days to get them to call me at my home land line by default, and that isn't really their target scenario.  However, once I realized that I can effectively use voicechat on my laptop, even when using a wireless connection and connecting from halfway across the country into the Microsoft network, I was actually really impressed!

Getting others to use the tools is the hardest part, as it requires others to change from what they are used to doing.  I'm working on making that as easy as possible.

 I'm still working through what other tools I need to be as productive as possible, but I hope you've enjoyed a small window into what it's like.


 Conor Cunningham

Architect, Microsoft SQL Server Core Engine


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