How do you identify a lucrative deal—and pull the pricing team, engineers and product managers together for it? What must you do to dominate an exciting market—when your competitors are there, too? What if you are ‘only’ an intern? At Microsoft, you roll up your sleeves and jump in.
“Being held accountable for budgets, customer expectations and staff has helped deepen my understanding of business management tools,” said Arjun Ramakrishnan, an MBA student at the University of Oxford in the UK. “Take enterprise selling for instance. From a theoretical standpoint, there are three stakeholders: the manufacturer, the retailer and the customer. To seal a real-world deal? It is about understanding and supporting the customer’s business needs. There has to be only one focus: the customer.”
The Southeast Asia Intern to Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) programme offers a 12-week internship to fulltime undergraduates and MBA students from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The programme is a strategic initiative that enables Microsoft to engage with the best and brightest young minds through various learning and development opportunities, such as working on impactful projects during their internships and Intern Learning Week.
As a MACH intern at Microsoft’s Asia headquarters in Singapore, Arjun worked across two teams: Enterprise Devices and Mobility, and Sales Excellence. “Exploring business functions across the company gave me better insights on operations management, both the human- and process-oriented aspects.”
For Malaysian finance undergraduate May Yie Chen, the internship let her cut her teeth on sales and marketing, a previously unexplored arena. A student at University of Nottingham, Malaysia, she joined Microsoft Malaysia where she worked with the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners (SMS&P) team, and the Partner Business & Development team.
“With the SMS&P team, I helped to recruit new System Integration partners for our Azure Cloud platform. I learnt so much from the responsibilities they entrusted me with: helping to drive conversations with key stakeholders in our partner ecosystem, identifying their business needs and mapping their expectations,” explained May Yie.
Arjun admitted that with Microsoft’s massive scale of operations, not being overwhelmed was “the biggest challenge”, but soon found that there was no cause for worry. “In my first meeting, my manager actually walked me through the entire selling process. It was the best 101 class I've ever done.” He added wryly, “I probably should have recorded it.”
Arjun and May Yie, just two of 50 interns from six countries in this year’s Intern to MACH programme, agreed that in addition to the day-to-day responsibilities, the Intern Learning Week hosted in Kuala Lumpur was a highlight. From a deep dive into Microsoft through various business acumen sessions and career workshops, to supporting 150 students at a #WeSpeakCode event, the two interns were excited to meet the future: other tech-savvy students.
After graduating this year, Arjun will take on the role of Product Marketing Manager – Cloud & Enterprise in Singapore. For May Yie, she will continue with her last year of undergraduate studies, and will consider applying for sales and marketing roles in Microsoft upon her graduation next year.