The Intern Perspective: Colleen Forbes

Posted By J.T. Kimbell
Program Manager

Earlier this week you had the chance to meet Meg. Now you get to meet the 2nd of 3 Explorer interns I coached as a PM this summer: Colleen Forbes.

Who am I?

Microsoft is a big company. It is so big it can’t fit in one country alone and employs over 90,000 people. Out of the 90,000 plus people, I am just one of the three Explorer interns at Windows Embedded. Also known as Colleen Forbes, future junior at Whitworth University, in Spokane, Wash.

Over the summer most people ask me one of three questions (or if they are lucky all three):

  1. What is Windows Embedded?
  2. What is an Explorer Intern?
  3. What did you do work on this summer?

Number one is always a good starting point, so let’s start with “What is Windows Embedded?”

Windows Embedded

There are two ways that I’ve answered this question. The short one:

Everything other than PC, phone and Xbox.

Or the not as short one:

Windows Embedded is where we take the Windows OS and break it apart for OEMs, who can then pick and choose the different components and use them however they want in a lockdown setting (i.e. digital signs, kiosks, etc.).

What is the Explorer Program?

The Explorer internship is unique in that a person and two other “pod-mates” rotate through all three roles (Program Manager, Developer, and Tester) and is aimed at college freshman and sophomores.

Like everything else in life, there are ups and downs to being an Explorer.

The Ups:

As my first internship I really appreciated how the Explorer internship really did let you “explore” the different roles at Microsoft. At school, there is a lot of focus on the traditional developer work, but the other two roles do not get as much attention. Which is nice if that is where you want to end up, but for me I was able to learn this summer that I really like the test Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) role.

I came to this conclusion by realizing that it had the two things that I liked from the PM and Dev roles: Like PM you think a lot about the user experience, but like Dev you get to work hands on the project.

The Downs:

There is still a lot more to the test role that I still want to learn. That is one of the downsides to being an Explorer. You just get a taste of the roles. There is not enough time to really get into one role. Now that is what makes it good too, but those are the two sides to the Explorer coin. It is a chance to experience but doesn’t go into depth.

The only other “down” that I have was that we were, by design, in our own little bubble. We were given an interesting project to work on, but at the same time we didn’t get the chance to really see how teams at Microsoft functioned.

What was our project?

So if we didn’t work on a project that Embedded was already working on, what was our project? When we first got to Embedded, we were given the task of showcasing how a Windows 8 application could work on an embedded device. Now that I’ve piqued your curiosity, you are going to have to wait a couple more days to find out the more in-depth description.


Last Words

Being an Explorer was a great opportunity. It was fun and challenging, with aspects I would keep and others I would do differently. I’ve been able to meet so many new people and learn more about Microsoft and the roles here. Not only that, it will be a lot easier seeing how my school work can be applied in real world experience. Overall this has been an amazing summer.

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