Posted By J.T. Kimbell
We continue our series of posts from Windows Embedded interns with the first of our 3 Explorer Interns that I had the privilege of coaching this summer. What’s an Explorer Intern? These interns don’t spend their whole summer in one of the three Software Development positions, but rather rotate between all of them, getting a taste for each. They’ll get the chance to come back next summer as a regular intern in the role of their choice. Below, Meg Quintero will tell you about her summer here in Seattle. To learn more about her project, check back next week for a post authored by all three Explorers.
Oh hai! My name is Meg, and I am one of the three Explorer interns on the Windows Embedded team. I am a rising junior at Harvard College concentrating in Computer Science and am contemplating a minor in Anthropology to further explore human interaction with technology. I am most recently from Havre, Montana, however, Cambridge has become more of my home. Back at Harvard, I am a soprano in the Harvard LowKeys, a contemporary co-ed a capella group, and have been singing for as long as I can remember. I enjoy biking, rollerblading, running, and pretty much anything that allows me to be outside. I am a big fan of the Red Sox and was able to attend a Red Sox vs. Mariners game and rep my team. I have been enjoying all that the Puget Sound area has to offer including incredible theater (“Rent”, “Les Miserables”, and “Turandot” were phenomenal), great shopping (Pike Place FTW), and waterfront a plenty. I also felt as if I died and went to heaven when I was handed a Samsung 9 Series Ultrabook at the Microsoft Intern Signature Event after hearing one of my favorite bands (Young The Giant) live at Gas Works Park.
My Path to Microsoft
I grew up being told about a fellow who spent his teenage years building computers. His hard work definitely paid off for this fellow is the founder of Microsoft, Mr. Bill Gates. As a teenager, I was inspired by his philanthropy work, more specifically his efforts to assist underrepresented minorities in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Back at school (Gate’s Alma Mater), I am surrounded by Microsoft influences: I attend classes in a building built in honor of Gates' mother, frequent Microsoft tech talks, and participate in hack-a-thons held in the Microsoft NERD center. Naturally, working at Microsoft has always been a goal of mine and Bill Gates is a constant inspiration and role model. My sophomore advisor, a Program Manager at the Cambridge office on the SharePoint team, first sparked my interest in the intern program. I also have an amazing school recruiter, Becky Tucker, who helped match me with the Explore Microsoft program. As you can see, Microsoft has always held a spot in my mind.
Explore Microsoft Internship Program
The Explore Microsoft intern program is very different in that instead of selecting a single discipline to pursue throughout the 12 weeks, we cycle through the three core tech roles: Program Management (PM), Software Development, and Software Development in test. At the end of the internship, we declare a role we would like to focus in and we interview for that specific position. Earlier on in the internship, I realized that Program Management was the discipline for me and have been further exploring the different faces and dimensions of PM at Microsoft as well as enjoying my exposure to the other two roles.
In the weeks leading up to the start of my internship, I tried to prepare by completing mini projects with the languages I was likely to use. While this was helpful, the most valuable preparation I had done was that which I have done unknowingly. Before my internship, I was unsure as to what the PM's role was in relation to the software development cycle or how I could prepare myself for this portion of the internship. I was slightly terrified of PM, however I had a gut feeling that I would enjoy the role. Although I did not realize this before my internship, I have often put on my "PM cap" in my previous experience without realizing it. I am a clinic lead at my school's IT department, I am in charge of processing the incoming client cases and determining how their problems are to be solved and by whom. From this experience, I have learned that I enjoy driving the progress of projects and helping others solve the problems they face. I believe this experience gave me the necessary "soft-skills" that aided me during my PM phase and will ultimately make me a better PM candidate for Microsoft.
World of Windows Embedded
Before coming to Windows Embedded, I knew very little about the types of products and services they offer. Upon arrival, somebody described Windows Embedded as anything that is not a computer, phone, or Xbox. While this is short and sweet, I have found that there is so much more to Windows Embedded. I have learned that Windows Embedded is used in practically everything I interact with on an average day. It saddens me that more people do not know about this amazing and essential part of Microsoft. I don’t know if you have seen this video posted by the Windows Embedded marketing team, but it highlights all of the different technologies running Windows Embedded that the average person interacts with daily for a grand total of 45. In a world in which data is a currency, the race towards intelligent systems is one in which Windows Embedded is taking the strides (pun intended) to win. As our General Manager, Kevin Dallas, states, Intelligent Systems are Here Today. In addition to the race to deliver valuable data to enterprises in real time, I am excited about the steps made by members of the Embedded team towards a more innovative and developer/hacker friendly environment. I was even more excited to learn that Windows Embedded has an auto division. My father was a Project Manager in the auto industry for years and therefore this team is of sentimental value to me and more obvious, incredibly exciting and cool! Looking back at my time as an intern at Windows Embedded, one of the most valuable experiences of my internship was the opportunity to not only present my project at the Explorer Intern Fair, but to help promote Embedded and show my peers how cool and exciting it is to intern here. After the fair, an intern friend of mine told me that he is asking his recruiter to set him up with an interview to join the Windows Embedded team next summer. How awesome and cool is that?
I definitely believe I gained incredibly valuable knowledge during my time here. When I go back to school, I look forward to approaching my work differently and to further explore and apply some of the methodologies I learned during my time at Microsoft. As I mentioned earlier, I am considering minoring in Anthropology to further spark my interest of creating the ideal user experience. The customer's goals, needs and wants drive the PM position and I would love to study course work that would allow me to gain a better understanding on the customer and how they interact with technology. I plan on "scrumming" while completing school projects and convincing project teammates to use tools like Team Foundation Server and Code Flow, both of which helped my Explorer Intern Team to organize and drive the code development. I am excited to come back next summer as a PM intern on the Windows Embedded Auto team and am already considering project ideas. My internship opened my eyes to the different ways in which I view the world and the problems I face daily. Everything I face is a problem to be solved!