July 02, 2012, 11:42 AM — In today's competitive IT market, employers making hiring decisions must look beyond a candidate's qualifications and personality. Successful technology companies want to be able to invest in their employees long term and provide them with valuable experiences. Microsoft aims to accomplish just that with over 950 new college graduates via the Microsoft Academy of College Hires (MACH) program.
The MACH experience is an opportunity for me to learn about the skills necessary to grow my career. Much of the content not only applies to Microsoft, but to any new graduate getting ready to start his or her first job in IT. Over the next couple of posts, I will share some of what Microsoft wants its "newbies" to learn.
I want to just throw this out there to start … You probably expect me to say something about how Microsoft wants its employees to "learn how to drink the Kool-Aid". Well, let's be blatantly honest. Nearly every company that develops or sells its own products promotes the idea. If you work at Lowe's, for example, you probably won’t shop at Home Depot for your household needs. Microsoft is no different in that it wants its employees to be enthusiastic about its products. Simply "drinking the Kool-Aid," however, shouldn't be your only focus. For new IT hires like me, a transition from college to a career is much more than that.
I recently received my first communication from the MACH experience team at Microsoft. The information contained some valuable strategies that pertain to all new hires. I've listed three of the tips below:
- Be your best
- Be the team
- Be a leader
In order for you to make a name for yourself no matter where you work, you have to be at your best day in and day out. Establishing a solid reputation and building a foundation upon which you can launch your career are critical. Because I'm about to enter a workplace filled with individuals who have much more experience, I'll have to be at 100% everyday.
Building a network of contacts both within and outside the company is something I look forward to. It provides the basis by which partnerships are created. At a company of over 90,000 employees, I'm not going to have a choice when it comes to being a team player. Even more so, my role as a consultant will require me to communicate effectively and manage conflict between others. By taking advantage of a variety of different project management tools, I'll also be able to learn some of the basic Microsoft business skills.
The company also wants to develop its employees into leaders. It will be my personal responsibility to positively influence my peers and customers on a daily basis. By doing so, I'll be able to develop my own leadership habits which are crucial to success at Microsoft.
Build your brand
My reputation at Microsoft will be established the moment I walk in on my first day of work. The MACH experience team included a quote from Tom Peters who is a writer and consultant on business management practices.
"You are the CEO of You, Inc." -- Tom Peters
What he means by this is that you are in complete control over your career. This stood out to me because regardless of what happens after you start your job, it's your obligation to position yourself for new opportunities. They refer to this as "branding" which is based on how you see yourself and how others see you.
I found that there are four distinct steps in creating a personal brand.
The first step involves discovering what separates you from others. My goal at Microsoft is to leave a lasting impression on my co-workers and build strong relationships. From there, my personal "brand" can be developed and supported as I navigate through the working world. Via this blog and other methods of communication, I can market my "brand" to others -- in other words, "get my WOMP (word-of-mouth-promotion) on." Of course, it's just as an important to be an excellent listener. In my opinion, those who can maintain an appropriate WOMP balance, so to speak, will be regarded highly.
The key to not just my own personal success but anyone with a career in technology seems to be that by doing the little things right you can go a long way to bigger and better things. I'm at the cusp of launching my new career and am really excited to explore these strategies.
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.