Opportunities, Providing

Olin opens doors that I never would have found myself. I've loved PowerPoint my entire life- I find presentations to be fun, and people who use lists of bullet points irk me. Yet, if you would've asked me in high school, working at PowerPoint to improve the user experience never would have been on my radar.

Last Fall, I was waiting for some external guests in the Olin parking lot, and one of our staff members dropped by with Edwin Guarin and introduced me. Through Edwin I ended up applying for a Microsoft "Program Management" internship. This internship is well suited to Oliners (three of us are PM Interns this year).

It isn't about coding, or managing- it's developing design specs for product features. So far in three weeks of my internship I've been given freedom to explore the product and react to it (in PowerPoint slide deck form!) and now I'm working on a report. That sounds boring- but it's compelling- I just can't give you details! Later on I'll be writing the requirements of the feature that I'm researching now, and possibly working on other features too. Our user-oriented design class has definitely come in handy in this job! My office walls are covered in post it notes (can't show you that, but here's a photo of my desk)

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From my Olin education I've been grateful about how comfortably I am working independently and seeking information from various sources within the company. For instance: I was disappointed that the "independent projects" lab was only being launched for interns in the Redmond, Washington headquarters. I got in touch with the coordinators and now I'm helping launch the version of the project down in the Silicon Valley office. An Olin lesson: if you're willing to do the work to get something going, chances are people will let you do it!

I'll try to tell you more about the internship throughout the summer- any pressing questions? Leave a comment or send me email!

-Ellen

Update: So I've received some feedback that people would like more details about the process of working at Microsoft- which I'm more than happy to provide!

  1. I'm a "Program Management" intern- which means I spend time writing design specifications and working to make things the best they can be for the end user experience. I don't spend my time developing code- I spend it researching, writing, and making decision decisions.
  2. On a daily basis I usually have a meeting or two to sync up with someone else on my team- or someone I'm working with remotely from Redmond. Between these meetings I work in my office, and often converse with my office-mate, Justin (Duke) about what he's working on.
  3. Writing a specification means providing enough details about a given feature that a developer would be able to take that document and (hopefully) completely code the feature. There's always some back and forth, though. The feature crew is the PM, the Dev, and the Tester.
  4. The environment is way more casual than I would have expected: I have tons of freedom in my work, dress is casual, and all the free soft drinks I can drink :) I highly recommend MSFT internships.
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