Posted By J.T. Kimbell
It’s time to meet the last of our three Explorers, Andrew Buckley, who will tell us about his experience this summer and how it was similar and differed from Meg and Colleen’s. Look for a post from all three of them at the end of this week telling you more about their project.
Howdy! My name is Andrew Buckley and I was one of 3 explorer interns on the Windows Embedded team this summer. I will be a sophomore this fall at Washington University in St. Louis studying Computer Science and Computer Engineering. I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL and I really enjoy soccer, basketball, running, and playing the violin. This fall will be my second semester as a Teaching Assistant for one of the introductory computer science courses.
How I Got Here
My formal computer science education began my freshman year of high school. I attended Suncoast Community High School. This school has thousands of applicants every year for spaces in any of the schools very rigorous magnet program. I knew far ahead of time that I wanted to study computers so when I found out that I was accepted into Suncoast’s Computer Science and International Baccalaureate programs I was more than thrilled. During my 4 years at Suncoast, I gained a solid foundation in computer science and computer engineering which more than prepared me for my first semester in the computer science program at Washington University.
I had been planning on applying to Microsoft’s Explorer program since the first career fair that was held at Washington University in the fall, but ended up forgetting about it until the day before the deadline. Luckily, I had my school’s Microsoft recruiter’s email address and contacted him for guidance and he helped me through the process of applying and getting an interview even though I thought I was too late. When the time came for on-site interviews, I was extremely surprised that Microsoft actually flew out candidates and put them up in a nice hotel for 3 days. The interview was actually quite stressful for me as it was my first technical interview ever. I didn’t know how to prepare so I went online and studied interview questions that other people had been asked. I was imagining big scary old computer scientists with 40+ years of experience with big frowns on their faces. But when I went in, the interviewers were very friendly, helpful, and open to talk about anything. The interview day went by very quickly, and my official offer for an internship arrived the night before my last Calc midterm. That night took a sharp turn away from the stressful and hectic night it had been.
An Explorer internship at Microsoft is very different from the core internships that Microsoft offers. The Explorer internship program is open only to current freshmen and sophomores. What makes this position more interesting is that the interns rotate through each of the three roles (PM, SDE, and SDET) instead of only focusing on one of those for all 12 weeks. I really enjoyed being able to experience all three of these positions but it would have been nice to spent a bit more time in the SDE phase since it turned out to be the heaviest workload.
Our Team and Our Project
Before my first day as an intern at Microsoft, I, like many others, constructed an idea of what life would be like at Microsoft based on news articles, YouTube videos, movies, television shows…basically whatever I could find by searching “Microsoft” online and visiting all of the links that would give me some insight into what I would be doing over the summer and how my days would go. I thought that I had a pretty good idea of how everything would work as an intern; I thought I had most everything mapped out and planned. But I had no idea that I would have been placed on the Windows Embedded team, and quite frankly I had no idea what Windows Embedded even was. After a little research, I had a vague idea of what Windows Embedded was, but wasn’t all that clear; so I decided to wait until my first day to understand it a little bit more.
The day after New Intern Orientation (NIO), we met with our Program Manager mentor, JT Kimbell. JT took the three of us to lunch where we met with Marcus Russell, our Test mentor (our Dev mentor Brett Robinson was out of the office for the day). It was at this point when we were told what our actual project would be. We were told to create a demo application that would showcase the new version of Windows Embedded using the new Modern Style of applications. We had a ton of freedom with this project which was great, but also posed some problems. (More about our project later)
At the end of an explorer internship, all explorers must choose which of the 3 roles they think they would hopefully like to do the following year. Coming in, at the back of my mind I thought I would have chosen the Dev (SDE) role as my favorite but I also didn’t really know much about the other 2 roles. We spent the first 4 weeks as PM doing a lot of design and planning. I didn’t know how much actually went into the PM phase and I actually found a lot of value in it, I think what it came down to is that I really prefer actually getting my hands dirty and building something. I like solving extremely difficult problems and finding good solutions. I like writing the actual code that people will use and creating the products that people will see. So it turns out that what I thought before I came in was true, I liked the dev role the best.
I had an incredible experience at Microsoft this summer as an Explorer Intern! Even though there were times when ideas clashed within our team, we always came to a working solution and things worked out great. Our mentors and manager were especially helpful and kind to all of us and I Meg and Colleen were amazing teammates as well. I would recommend the Windows Embedded team to anyone considering a Microsoft Internship and I can’t wait to come back next year!
Until next year, Andrew Buckley.