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As a Mechanical engineer interested in software development, the internship season put me into a bit of a quandary. Since software companies seldom open for non-CS students, weeks had passed by without me signing a single IAF (Internship Application Form). In mid-August, Microsoft India Development Centre (MSIDC) came along. I had stood runner-up in code.fun.do (the Microsoft university hackathon) the previous year. Consequently, Microsoft invited me to participate in the internship selection process (which is otherwise open only to CS students) and I cashed in on the opportunity. This was my first insight into how well thought-out the Microsoft internship program is.
The selection process involved two rounds of coding. Shortlisted candidates were then invited for multiple rounds of interviews. Knowledge of algorithms and data structures is a prerequisite, where having done CS-213 (or equivalent like EE-717) would come in handy. Being familiar in backend development, the interviewer asked me several questions related to my field of expertise in addition to the standard data structures ones. I also found this knowledge to be highly useful during the course of my internship.
MSIDC hires for two locations in India – Hyderabad and Bangalore. I was assigned to the Dynamics CRM team at Bangalore. Dynamics CRM is an enterprise CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. Not being a mass-market product, I had never even heard of this arm of Microsoft before. I was stumped to know that it makes over $1Billion in revenues and is still growing at a massive rate. It has now taken the second position in the segment, right behind Salesforce.
About the Company
While I was sitting at my workstation with the source code, trying to figure out how this billion dollar application works, I knew that my work was the only thing I needed to worry about. Microsoft literally took care of everything else. It is rare, even among the best of employers to offer full provisions for accommodation, travel and food throughout the duration of the intern. The office was bang in the centre of the city. All interns were provided accommodation at a luxurious service apartment within a walking distance from the office. The food at the office was healthy and delicious. This is in addition to their well-stocked 24×7 pantry.
What impressed me the most about Microsoft was their work culture. All the rules (or lack thereof) are an extension of pure logic. There are no in-out time requirements. You can work from home, or from the office for as long as you want. All you have to ensure is to get the work done in the allotted timespan – it’s that simple! People who are used to working independently would feel at-ease working here. There is no dress code over here – you can wear anything you feel like wearing (You will, however, feel awkward in formal clothing when your manager walks in wearing a tee and jeans). The organisation is extremely agile for a company this size. The focus is on getting the work done, than on frivolous rules or procedures.
For my intern, my team gave me a completely new project to develop. I, and a fellow intern were the only people working on it. Due to the nature of the task, I am contractually bound to not disclose even a vague outline of the job description – at least until the feature is released to the public. The team was very open to inputs and we were given full freedom to suggest features, or methods to implement those features.
All my co-workers are extremely approachable. One of them was nice enough to even give me his own team jacket (thanks Tarun)! The managers, even at the highest levels have a good idea about the specifics of what everyone is working on. You will often have co-workers randomly challenging you to a game of carrom or foosball when you need a break. Not to be missed are the facilities for gymming, badminton, basketball, cricket, in addition to the tons of Xboxs lying around at every corner of the office.
I had been allotted two very helpful mentors who guided me throughout the intern. One of them was possibly the coolest mentor an intern at Microsoft ever got (PM for more). I was also blessed to have been allotted the team which was most prolific in outings. I went out with my team for several lunches, dinners, a movie, and even an IPL match!
The cherry on the cake was that since the intern is in Bangalore, where the largest chunk of students from IITB is interning, I went out with friends almost every weekend. There are several places to see around Bangalore – Coorg, Nandi Hills, Ooty; the list is endless. We managed to explore many of them. Bangalore is a trekker’s paradise. You can rent a bike/car and head out on the weekends on your own with traveller blogs and
Overall, the internship has provided me a great insight into the software development industry. Knowing how the biggest and best companies pull off their work has been a valuable experience. Given the scale Microsoft provides, you know you’re working for something that is going to impact an enormous number of people (albeit, in an indirect, subconscious manner). Knowledge of this fact gives a very unique feeling of satisfaction that is difficult to describe. To sum it up – Microsoft consists of a bunch of really cool and smart people who live a way of life worth an experience.