Hello everyone, and welcome to the most useless summer blog that’ll be ever posted for most of you here. Sorry, self-deprecation and stating facts is just a part of my personality and my sense of humour, but let’s reserve it for the rest of the blog. I am Rishabh Kumar, a fourth-year undergraduate at IDC School of Design, and I’m here to tell you about my experience interning at Microsoft as a UX Design Intern.
I recall hearing about my seniors’ Microsoft intern experience during my first week here at the campus during the famous IDC “parties”, and I was immediately hooked. Given my pre-college exposure to the design industry, I was certain that all of this sounds like what I want to achieve professionally, and that’s where my journey for MS Day 1 started, and I made sure that I don’t fall short of any of the boxes that need to be ticked for the next two years.
Now, coming to my interview experience. To give some extra context for my B. Tech brethren, IDC students need to prepare a portfolio to showcase their work apart from the résumé, which gives us a little freedom to go off-script from the usual interview drama. I made sure that while presenting my work on my website (PS: you can check it out at rishabhkumar.design; PPS: the website is going to get a major overhaul, just wait for it :>), the interviewers are aware of my industry experience, professional aptitude, visual design skills and my penchant for delightful interactions. I would say I was mildly successful at what I set out to present, and I was pretty confident about my preparation too.
After getting an almost devastating blow from Day 0 interviews, I went offline for two days to recollect myself mentally and physically (Kids, stay away from Red Bull, chai for the win <3) for the next set of interviews. I partially blame myself for not being prepared enough for the entire process, as the infamous IDC-casualness came to bite me in the butt, and my general inexperience with interviews didn’t help at all. Although the entire ordeal was successful in breaking down my spirit, my Mood Indigo team was there to cheer me up, to see the silver lining, and prepare me for the next challenge.
When the Day 1 companies, including Microsoft, popped up on the internship blog, I was more than ready for the process. I was shortlisted for all the companies, but I had my eyes on the prize. Armed with a visually overhauled portfolio, amateur interview experience and a new zeel to prove myself, I started to prepare myself for the interview. I am thankful to my seniors who gave me valuable insights (hehe cameo) regarding the process and helped me keep my cool days before the interview.
Microsoft is one of the rare companies that doesn’t give a design task for the entire process, and everything boils down to your portfolio and interview. This already makes them one of the most beloved corporates out there, and therefore made my life easier as it was one of the most intense academic weeks that I ever had. The interviews were semi-structured, pretty chill and were polar opposite to my initial experience. The interviewers were friendly and were vocally supportive whenever any of the applicants felt a little nervous. I had pleasant and nostalgic discussions regarding my PoR work and was asked to give a portfolio and process walkthrough of my projects. I was given multiple on-spot problem identification tasks and product case studies through a series of three rounds of interviews, which helped reinforce my problem solving and critical thinking skills.
I remember I was out getting groceries when I got the news about my final selection at MS, and I just added a lot of house party food, as COVID had ruined all my other plans to celebrate.
Fast-forwarding to April, and any chances of an offline internship were non-existent, as Microsoft was one of the first companies in the corporate world to adopt the work-from-home mode as default. We were showered with goodies and XBOX game passes to compensate for missing out on the scenic Bangalore campus, but I would have opted for the latter any day. The only advantage that WFH offers in terms of design work is that the medium ensures excellent documentation of the process. But we did lose out on the exchange of ideas and the corporate culture that I wanted to experience, which would have been significantly beneficial while making my career choices. Still, it was quite awe-inspiring to get welcomed by lockdown-beard Trevor Noah for our internships.
I was part of the Communications and Design Team over there, where I was responsible for foundational research and product direction for an Office product. This scared me like crazy as it was almost too much responsibility for an intern, but the entire team was extremely supportive and there to back me up if I had any issues with the bureaucracy. I was able to do interviews with the global user base to understand the product and user needs and wants, therefore rooting my project into reality.
I essentially got a crash course from my mentor in storytelling, and I had immense fun with the skills I had picked there, telling user stories and journeys when I did my product pitch for the entire studio. Lockdown had cost me my stage presence and performance charisma, but the internship helped me to recover at least some parts of it, preparing me for any offline stage performances that might happen this semester. 🙂
I see you have made it to the end for the infamous “tips and tricks”, but I’ll just take my leave by stating that just be chill, have an identity with your resume and portfolio, and remember to think from a user’s perspective while solving any problem. Hit me up if you want to talk about anything design, or you know…just chat. I love gossip, it’s just user research and interviews about juicy stuff happening around us.