As a recruiter, I find myself eavesdropping on conversations in public places...I swear I can't help it! I'm always thinking about the people around me and whether they would be a good hire for Microsoft. And whether they are going to mention any good places to shop or eat (I know, I am shameless...but I only do this in public places, I promise).

Last week, I was on an airplane...I was in the back and it was noisy, so it was a wonder I could hear anything at all. Anyway, there was a man and a woman sitting in front of me. They weren't together, but they were chatting and she was asking him what he does for a living. He mentioned that he works at Microsoft (not so much of a coincidence when you are flying into Seattle). Anyway, I witness what happens to Microsoft people a lot. Once you say the work Microsoft, you get 100 questions. I think people have a natural curiosity about Microsoft and what it's like to work there...what Bill Gates is like (I tease people by telling them that Bill stopped by my office on my first day to take me to lunch and welcome me to Microsoft...hee). In general, I have found that Microsoft people are pretty willing to share about what they do. Sharing personal info on a plane is always a risk, especially if you want to have a nice quiet flight. But it's OK to ask people about their work...really ; )

Anyway, while I was eavesdropping on the Q&A, I heard him say something like “I don't do computer stuff when I am not at work”. In all fairness (like it matters since I don't know who this person was), he put it more eloquently. I almost said “right on!”, but then they would have known I was listening.

I think people assume that all Microsoft employees think about technology 24/7. I know that I sure don't (but I am having lots of fun with my TiVo). It's hard to do, but I really do turn off my work life when I am at home. I have made some concessions like getting a cell phone (that is often sitting in my bag uncharged...like right now, but I am plugging it in as we speak...er, I mean as I type). My passion for technology manifests itself differently than it does for some other folks here. First, I get to use cool technology at work (we try out all out new stuff here first...we call it “eating our own dog food“ or “dog fooding”). I'm most fascinated by how technology enables businesses (ah...there's that business degree coming out...my dad would be proud). And really, those kinds of technologies are the ones I get to play with all day long in the scope of my job. So I get to go home and have fun with my dog, make jewelry, work on my house and yard and have some wine with friends. I don't think that there's anything wrong with “doing computer stuff” in your off time. I just don't think it's a requirement for success here. In fact, I feel like I am a better employee when I've fully downloaded after a fast paced day in the office (plus, I happen to think that I have the best job...it's busy but fun). Sometimes that means a shopping trip on my way home from work (note to self: remember to take your badge off so people don't look at you like you are a total nerd) or a lunch off campus. Lots of people here actually bring their interests to work too, for example, playing soccer or volleyball on the sports fields.

It was kind of nice to hear someone articulate the fact that they have interests outside of work....most of us do!

Comments (7)

  1. Balaji says:


    You are right. When a Microsoftie goes out, he/she gets recognized, and hit by 100s of questions. A case happened last year, when I met 1000s of Microsofties during July weekend in New Orleans. Not only I started asking questions, but also I started distributing my resume. Even though it didn’t work out, I started getting calls from Microsoft partner companies.

  2. Marty says:

    My wife and I often have limited conversation in restaurants or other places because we find ourselves listening to the conversations around us. 🙂

    As for me having other interests… I am not a MS employee but I am in IT so friends and family think I live technology as well.

    I think any person technology related or otherwise should have interests outside their profession.

  3. Some of us do this for a living because otherwise we would be spending 24 hours a day playing with tech for free…

  4. Abhijit Gore says:

    Trackback: As I was reading Heather’s post on Eavesdropping. I remembered an interesting conversation, I had with an old lady. This happened more than a decade back, the whole family and friends….

  5. Heather says:

    See? Everybody? Abhijit’s post… Eavesdropping leads to happy marriage! ; )

    Shannon-your company is probably getting lots of extra hours of work out of you ; )

    By the way everyone…I also have to admit that I look at peoples’ luggage tags. I don’t pick them up and turn them over. But if the luggage tag is visible, I try to read it. Some of those management consultants that are tired of traveling all the time would really love to work here and if I can identify them by reading their luggage tag, thenI will (same for traveling product managers, etc). I’m sorry to admit it but recruiters do these things. Do I need a support group or what?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Abhijit’s Eclectic Blog

  7. I’m unemployed, er, I mean SELF-employed, so no such thing as "extra hours". Any hour not spent sleeping is either R&D or marketing/promotion.

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