2 Week Recap

Today is the end of my second week at Microsoft.  I thought I'd take a moment to recap some of my impressions.

Interesting things I've done so far:

  • Experienced Microsoft NEO (New Employee Orientation), which they say is like "drinking from a firehose".
  • Had lunch with Robert Scoble, Microsoft Geek Blogger (http://scoble.weblogs.com) and generally interesting character.
  • Joined the general rush of Microsoft people to upgrade their digital cable to the new Microsoft TV-based DVR from Comcast.  It is amazing how many people around here are switching off DirecTV or Dishnet and going to Comcast to take advantage of this new settop box.
  • Lived through the launch of Halo 2 on my second day at the company.  Last Wednesday, one of my coworkers and I drove to the company store to pick up a copy and I had to laugh because there was a sign on the door that stated "Limit 3 copies of Halo 2 per employee per day"!
  • Was assigned my first project (more about that later) and began to work through its early phases.
  • Had an alumni lunch with several folks from Ernst & Young (one of my former employers).  The general tone was that everyone was happier at Microsoft than at E&Y.
  • Set up this blog and started communicating with the world.
  • Signed up for multiple email distribution lists (using an internal web application called "Autogroup") and started seeing the internal conversations that go on via that medium.  Let me tell you, there are some really smart people working at Microsoft from the quality of the email conversations I've eavesdropped on.
  • Missed our team's Halo 2 Frag Fest, held last night. ๐Ÿ™  They set up a training room with 4 XBoxes and 4 projectors, networked things together and had a 16-player Halo 2 battle royals until about 10:00 last night, complete with pizza and beer.

Observations about Microsoft:

  • The culture here seems to be to go to lunch (usually, but not always) with people on your team or other MS people.  At my previous job, I often ran out and grabbed something and ate at my desk, and this seemed to be pretty common on the team.
  • The quality of the people I've met so far is very high.  My coworkers are very smart and professional when it is called for, but very fun at the same time.
  • It has become quite clear that social networking is critical at Microsoft.  Who you know directly impacts how successful you will be, especially as a Program Manager.  Perhaps developers can be heads down in a particular project and get by without getting to know too many people, but PMs can't.
  • Microsoft knows that its people are its most valuable asset.  The company really takes good care of its people.
  • There is always something going on on campus, from talks to plays to clubs and so on.
  • There is a strong feel of a college campus at Microsoft, with the campus layout, the cafeterias, the activities, and so on.  I really feel that Microsoft tries to create a feel of a place to go after you graduate but aren't really done with being a college student yet.

That's it for now, but remember: if you are interested in joining Microsoft, check out http://www.microsoft.com/careers...

Comments (15)

  1. Anonymous says:

    2 Week Recap Microsoft knows that its people are its most valuable asset. The company really takes good care of its people. Too bad the customers don’t get the same treatment….

  2. Anonymous says:

    Robert Scoble’s Influential Blog…

  3. Alan Yeung says:

    Hey, I’m in STL and studied in WashU!

    Mind to share how you successfully got into MS? =D

    I hope one day I can share experience like yours…

  4. Bill Canning says:


    I suggest you check out http://blogs.msdn.com/jobsblog as a first step. Zoe and Gretchen provide tons of valuable information about getting your resume noticed and doing well in the interview. But really, the only way to an interview at Microsoft is through HR, and that means going through the Careers page on microsoft.com (www.microsoft.com/careers).

    Good luck,


  5. Anita Rowland says:

    lunch practices do vary by team and job. I’ve had some assignments where we ate as a large group almost daily, and others where no one on the team ate together.

    I agree about the importance of social connections; this is true even for contractors.

  6. Dave Fourputtinski says:

    Congratulations on your new job.

    I am envious! I’d love to work for Microsoft.

    Best of luck to you. I will follow your blog with interest.

  7. jonpoon says:


    Congrats on joining Microsoft. Hope you’re enjoying it as much as i do.


  8. Nirmal Raghavan V says:

    Hi Bill,

    Your blog really makes interesting read. I am a great fan of Microsoft. Please visit my blog when time permits and don’t forget to record ur comments!

  9. Nishant says:

    Hi Bill,

    I was flown there last year to interview for a PM intern position (Shell group… brr). I didn’t get an offer ๐Ÿ™ However, I’m coming back this January – for a full-time PM position.

    Any words of wisdom for the interview? I feel that my strengths in the last interview were design (I have difficulty nailing down the final features, at times), and coding. I know for sure that I had difficulty with "conflict resolution." That is, a question such as, "A dev comes to you 2 days before ship date, and informs you of a huge bug in the final build. What do you do? Ship or postpone?" was a question that made me stumble. I’d never really thought about it before, and my first-instinct answer was a big… ahem… undecisive. I think I’m in much better shape this year (I’ve had a whole year to think about this!)

  10. Bill Canning says:


    Please check out http://blogs.msdn.com/jobsblog for great information about interviewing, etc.

    On your particular question, I would suggest that you always think of the customer, and let that be your guide.

    Good luck in January and let me know how you do…


  11. Nishant says:

    I’m a regular visitor at jobsblog. Nevertheless, thank you!

    Interesting advice on the particular question… I think I need to think about this some more.

    And yes, I will definitely let you know ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Bill Canning says:

    I guess what I’d say to that question is: what would be worse for the customer and therefore Microsoft: releasing a product with a known major bug (especially if that bug could lead to data loss) or releasing a product a week or two late? I think if you frame the question in those terms, the answer becomes pretty obvious (at least to me)… I think after the decision is made (whatever direction you choose) you should make it clear what other steps you would take to mitigate the impact as much as possible (e.g., minimize the delay or minimize the bug impact and provide a workaround).

    Caveat: I may not know what I’m talking about!


  13. Vinit Bhansali says:

    I don’t think releasing a buggy product is good.

    A delay is just that, a delay. A buggy product is a LOSS. Both, in terms of PR and finance.

  14. Nishant says:

    Vinit –

    Speaking idealistically, you are right. Realistically, I’m not sure I agree with you. I think it really depends on the situation.

    Bill –

    You’re right – the question posed to me was quite open-ended. We role-played ๐Ÿ™‚ I played PM, while the interviewer played various roles (Dev, SDET). He was trying to overwhelm me, and it worked pretty well. I don’t think there was really a right/wrong answer to the question. It was "process" that he wanted to see.

    So, let me ask you this – as a PM, do you make this decision? I mean, I know that as the PM, you own the feature, etc. However, I would think that just based on the PM’s job description, he’s not the guy that really makes the decision.

    Basically, here’s my question to you – 3 days to ship, and Bob, the super-dev, scurries into your office screaming, "It’s gonna blow! It’s gonna blow!" Once you calm him down with some Valium, he explains the presence of a certain bug that went unnoticed. The bug is critical, he says, and causes data loss at times. What do you do?

  15. Nishant says:

    Oh yeah… the bug cannot be fixed in 3 days ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s going to take 3 weeks to fix it.

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