Thoughts after one month as an Intern at Microsoft (in no particular order):
The Fun Stuff
- Washington is beautiful. Mountains, lakes, the Sound and the incredible amount of Evergreen trees make the area beautiful to live in.
- Seattle is an amazing city with all kinds of activities to do. The community is extremely open and there is no limit to the kind of festivals they celebrate.
- Microsoft loves its interns. It plans all kind of activities for us to make us feel part of the company. We get to meet amazing people like Steven Sinofsky, go on great activities like bowling and hiking, and make awesome new friends.
- The Mexican community at Microsoft makes me feel at home. They’ve taken me into their group as one of their own. They plan great activities and assign full-time buddies to every intern from Mexico.
- Office for me has never been such a complete business experience before. Exchange Server + SharePoint + Outlook + Communicator are incredible products and invaluable from a business standpoint. It makes communicating with colleagues, co-workers, and friends a breeze. Plus, my phone is amazing.
- My product is awesome. I can’t wait for more schools to use it. Developing an OS that will be used my millions of people around the world, and for some of them be their first time using a PC, makes me feel that my work is so much greater than just the code I build.
- Free drinks!! All the soda, tea, milk, coffee and juice we can drink, freely available to everyone at Microsoft.
The Not-So-Fun Stuff
- Developing software is not only about writing code. I’ve barely written any code since I started here. Most of my time in the office is spent researching and planning what I’m going to do in the next weeks. Coding is fun, but it’s not useful if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be coding. Research and planning should go first and foremost.
- Meetings can be boring, particularly when everyone is discussing things that have little to do with your work. Going through a huge list of bugs related to a product is by no means the most exciting thing in the world.
- Permissions and security can be a pain. Source code and planning document access is very restricted and can lead to great delays when you need it to do your work.
- Internal distribution lists are the greatest source of time wasting. Microsoft has an amazing collection of mailing lists you can join, but beware of them clogging up Outlook and distracting from work.
- Depending on your team, code documentation may be sparse, awful, or just plain missing. The hardest part about getting started in a product is understanding how it works. Bad documentation only makes this more painful.
The Weird Stuff
- The iPod Touch is the absolute perfect PDA for a Microsoft employee. It syncs you mail and calendar through Exchange, it can connect to corporate WiFi and access the Intranet, and it is perfect for the occasional emergency when you don’t have a laptop at hand and need to send a quick email. If you want a smartphone-like corporate experience without the contract and plan cost, get an iPod.
- Campus is so big that there are shuttles that can take you from one building to another. There are times of the day when there are more shuttles driving around campus than there are actual cars.
- Nintendo of America is completely surrounded by Microsoft buildings. Nintendo’s offices are so small compared to Microsoft’s, it almost feels like part of campus.
The Bottom Line
- Work at Microsoft has been fun, and I’ve never learned so much in such a short time before. But for me the best part of it all has been life outside the office, in great part thanks to all the events, talks and trips Microsoft and the Intern Program plan for us. I love Microsoft’s work environment and would love to return.