I get asked this question pretty often, so I thought I’d create a blog post about it. Although I’m a Tech Evangelist, I frequently work with the recruiting team, especially when it is at Universities in my area, such as Drexel, The University of Pennysylvania, and Penn State.
Anthony Rotoli, a University Recruiter at Microsoft just did a great interview with Heather Wood Rudolph at Cosmopolitan Magazine earlier this week regarding what it takes to get hired at Microsoft as a student. You can find it here.
A couple of years ago several members from the recruiting team did an Ask Us Anything on Reddit. This should answer most of your questions, but I’ll highlight some additional information here. The first thing you should do is head to the University Careers page. At the top, you’ll find the Apply button which covers both technical and non-technical roles.
I will tell you this though: When I am working with recruiters at schools, we are generally looking for students to fit a specific role. For example, at my last trip to Penn State, we were specifically looking for Software Engineers, and had a handful of openings for Program Managers.
You have to remember that Microsoft is a tech company, therefore most of the roles they are looking for will be technically focused. In fact, several of the people I work with on our marketing team have techinical degrees! While a degree in computer science isn’t required (I studied Communications), it certainly helps. You may be coding in your day-to-day role, but it will make your job much easier if you can at least communicate with programmers.
What are you looking for?
Ask 10 different people and you will find 10 different answers. When I am speaking with a student, here is what helps them stand out to ME:
Have a website
This goes further than just about anything else you can do. This immediately tells me what you do / do not know, what you are passionate about, and a bit about your personality. I started this blog well before I joined Microsoft, but as a means to learn, but also to share what I am learning and doing.
Be specific about what you do and do not know on your resume
If I see something like: Skills: C++, C#, Java
I am going to assume that you have a professional proficiency for these languages. If you don’t, then state so. I’d much prefer to see:
Full Professional Proficiency: C++, C#
Limited working proficiency: Java
This tells me you are honest in your appraisal of your skills. Also, just because you aren’t a pro in Java doesn’t mean you can’t get hired for a role that uses that language. The fact that you are very good in two other languages and decent in a third tells me that you can learn quickly.
Don’t ask “Which job do you think I will be good for?
You know much more about yourself than anyone else. Do your home work beforehand and look for which roles are available at Microsoft that you’d like to apply for. Look at Glassdoor. They have a lot of information there about the company you want to work for, as well as the roles that are available. While at a recuiting event, as the recruiter about those specific roles.
The languages you know may not matter
Worried that you only know Java but you want to work at Microsoft? Not a problem. Showcase finished projects thave you have completed already, and that will go a long way. I will tell you this though: There is a huge demand for web developers out there, so the more JS / HTML5 you know, the better. Also, if you want to work in gaming, a lot of the work you would be doing on a console would be around C++. Understand what it is you want to do, then focus your language knowledge toward that field.
Does my degree matter?
Again, ask different people and you’ll get a different response. I studied communications and went to grad school for an MBA, which I never finished. So if you ask me, no, it does not matter. If you display that you are technical and can quickly learn, then I believe that will quickly boost your value. Recruiters are like matchmakers: They want to make sure that the company is a good fit for you, and you are a good fit for the company.
Showcase what you know on your blog. That speaks much louder than one sheet of paper that simply state that you know languages A, B, and C.
How do Internships work?
The process for applying for internships begins at around the middle of the summer. I’d suggest applying after August 1st. You can find them here. NOTE: You need to click on the Education Type first, and then Employment Type will all you to choose full time or intern.
From there, they generally do the interview process in the fall / early winter, and you’ll receive a decision around winter / spring. Your internship will then take place in Redmond over the following summer. So in total, the process is about one year long.
Getting in touch with a recruiter
Many of the schools in the US with large engineering programs have a dedicated recruiter. For example, Penn State has 1,300 students in their engineering department, so Microsoft will have a strong focus at a school like that. You can find your recruiter here. If your school does not have a dedicated recuriter, that list will at least show you who the recruiter for your state is. Worst case, reach out to your local Technical Evangelist. You can find them here.
MACH Program – MSFT Academy of College of College Hires
What if you just graduated and are looking for a role at Microsoft? Well you’re in luck.
The Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) program is a customized learning experience designed for our newest university hires in various job families including Marketing, Sales, Services, IT and Operations. This two-year program complements your role by ensuring that you receive professional development to enable you to start strong, accelerate your impact, build your network and drive a long-term career at Microsoft.
Had I known such a thing existed when I was finishing school, I would have jumped at this immediately. Here is a great (albeit, older) blog post from a former MACH, which should give you a better understanding of the program.
One of the recruiters, Anthonoy Rotoli, also wrote a great post titled “A must-read guide to university recruiting” He also has another post on how to land an interview, and how long it will take to hear about the next steps. Once you get that interview, you need to know what to expect about the first round process.
Nervous about coding questions? I’d suggest Cracking the code interview: 150 programming questions and solutions. Although I’ve got to be honest — I was a Sr. Engineer at Comcast before I worked at Microsoft, and in both interviews I completely diverted the technical questions by showing off projects I had worked on through my website, as well as apps I had published in the store.
Have some questions for me? Feel free to reach out!-----------------------