Bing, bang, boom: My first three weeks at Microsoft

My career at Microsoft has just begun and what a ride it has been!

Only three weeks in and I have already been blown away! I never thought the onboarding process could be as rewarding as Microsoft has provided to me. From executive Q&A to philanthropic team building activities, I cannot imagine a more exciting way to start my career out of college.

Week 1 - MACH Start Strong

I don't think I have ever been as anxious as I was on my first day at work. Here I was, about to work for one of the most established technology companies in the industry -- one that has been around since before I was even born. I think this was also the first time that I used the word "surreal" to describe how I was feeling.

Day 1, along with much of the first week consisted of the typical administrative tasks practiced by most large companies. You could call it "getting into the system," a process by which you are given your employee identification, corporate laptop, and other new hire related materials.

Microsoft's Academy of College Hires, or MACH, is a unique two year onboarding experience for new college graduates. The company refers to the first week of training as the MACH Start Strong program in which you are given the opportunity to meet others in similar roles within the company.

The MACH Start Strong program provides new college hires with insight into Microsoft's divisions within the company along with information about each of its products. I was hired into the Services Division -- a group that provides enterprise solutions and support for its products. The position that I am undertaking is that of an associate consultant. During Start Strong, I acquired additional knowledge not only about my own role but how my job correlates with other positions in Services to support our customers. They coin this as "One Microsoft" -- regardless of what my job is, we each have the responsibility to work with others to provide our customers and partners a high level of satisfaction.

Week 2 - MACH Global Conference

My second week at Microsoft had to be one of the most exciting experiences thus far.  I had the opportunity to join almost 1000 other MACHs from around the world at the MACH Global Conference, or MGC. I was expecting to network with others at this multi-day event, but never did I expect to be this immersed in meeting new people.

One of the coolest aspects of working for Microsoft is the amount of diversity it has. While at MGC, I met university hires from over 50 different countries. The conference incorporated a variety of team-building activities and business simulations which gave me with the opportunity to work with individuals from the UK, Egypt, Turkey, and a plethora of other countries. I have to say that I think my list of internal Lync contacts quadrupled after the conference!

MGC also included speakers from both within Microsoft and outside of the company. For each keynote that I attended, I became even more excited to be working for this company. I was given career insight from senior Microsoft employees that included CEO Steve Ballmer, and the SVP of sales and marketing in North America, Robert Youngjohns. It meant a lot to see some of these executives take time out of their schedules to recognize their college hires. Not only that, but they devoted a significant amount of time for us to personally ask them questions. The experience made me realize how much the company wants its employees to be successful.

Week 3 - Microsoft Services University

Upon the completion of MGC, I reunited with new hires from Week 1 to attend a training program geared towards those in Services. Known as Microsoft Services University, or MSSU, this consisted of a deep dive into the methodologies the company uses to architect solutions and provide support to its customers. From initiation to close-out, many of the phases of the project life-cycle were highlighted as they pertain to my role as a consultant.

Throughout the week, we also learned more about own personalities via a DiSC Assessment. Similar to other personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC dimensions are arranged into four categories: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. One of the activities involved dividing ourselves into groups based on our highest scoring dimension (I personally scored highest in the Influence category). We were then asked to describe our groups' opinions on questions such as: "What are some common expressions you use? What types of things bug you the most?" It was quite funny to see the distinct differences in opinion each group displayed.

The characteristics we demonstrated carried over to role-playing scenarios that simulated business meetings with customers. We were asked to create solutions-oriented presentations and deliver them to seasoned Microsoft employees who pretended to be difficult customers. This turned out to be an eye-opening experience for those who were not accustomed to uncomfortable meeting situations. What many of us took away from this was that the customer is almost always right and that it's the team's responsibility to come up with a solution that meets both the company's and customer's expectations.

So what's next?

Now that I have wrapped up much of my initial onboarding experience, it's time for me to start shifting towards the technical aspect of my job. Being a new consultant, it will be a few months before I have the opportunity to shadow others on client engagements. Until then, my ramp up will consist of becoming well-versed in select Microsoft technologies that match my previous experience.

I have decided to focus on the private cloud computing space as this is becoming a hot topic among enterprise clients. Throughout the next few weeks, I'll have the opportunity to attain certifications in related products. I'll also be provided an experienced mentor who will help guide me on both the technology and principles on which Microsoft prides itself.

Over the coming months, I hope to continue learning more about Microsoft and share new and exciting on-the-job experiences. Stay tuned!

Read more of Andrew Weiss's "Launched!" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @Andrew_Weiss. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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