Susan IbachTechnical Evangelist
Working at Microsoft Canada has been amazing. I am halfway through my 8 month term and already I’m dreading the day to say goodbye. My positive experience can be contributed by a variety of factors such as the nurturing environment, friendly co-workers, lunch-and-learn sessions, an excellent manager, opportunities for development, and other perks including my Windows Phone 7!
How did I get here? Well, I started out pretty small but grew steadily with hard work and dedication. I went from volunteering at my high school to volunteering at the Science Center and Art Gallery of Ontario. I then moved on to working at a retail chain, and a small business. When I saw the job application for Microsoft, I thought, “Why not? It does not hurt to apply.” To my complete awe and wonder, I got chosen for an interview and subsequently the position. One thing I did correctly: I showed my passion for learning, my dedication, and my positive outlook on life.
I was excited at the prospect of working for a large business for the first time. But something was at the back of my mind. I had always assumed Microsoft was only looking for students in the fields of computer science and engineering, so automatically I ruled myself out. I mean I had a little experience with coding in high school and took a course in University, but that’s about it. I heard it’s actually harder to get into the “business” roles in organizations like these because they mostly hire young adults with coding experience and only business professionals. However, through applying for the job, I demonstrated opening my eyes to the opportunities out there.
I am a few months in at Microsoft, and already I feel that I fit in perfectly. Sure there is a lot of work to do, but I always keep in mind that with effective time-management and knowing I am never alone, the work will get completed. The atmosphere here is one I have never experienced before; everyone is willing to help no matter where in the hierarchy we both are. One significant (and shall I say embarrassing?) moment was on my first day here. I had asked someone to help me set up my access/connection for a work program. The person willingly helped me, accepted my thanks, and went back to work. A few days later, I found out that the same person was actually the director of the entire department! I felt that even though I was only there temporarily, I was never treated as such. The moral of this anecdote: Take chances and ask for help – in most cases, people want to share their knowledge.
As well, most of my positive experience here was influenced by my manager. It really helped to have someone listen to my needs and expectations of the job, create development plans, and actually carry them through! I was given the opportunity to explore not only my job and the field, but also work with other departments and other managers. There are always opportunities to get involved in additional projects around Microsoft; these allow anyone to develop multiple competencies and experiences.
Everyone knows that work needs to be done on a timely manner and with their best effort – it’s a mutual agreement at Microsoft. Personally, I find I am stimulated by those people who are high achievers; those who take their work and transform it to another level – that’s what I see at Microsoft all the time. This behaviour stems from a core of hard work and dedication.
I’m very lucky and grateful to working at Microsoft. I am learning a tremendous amount about business processes, operations, and management. I now can actually link concepts from my business courses right into real life!
So, if you only remember a few tips from my story, please remember these:
· Don’t assume you know a company completely and rule it out of your options – research opportunities!
· Demonstrate and always show the real you – that’s the best way to assess a fit between yourself and an organization.
· Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
· Take a chance and try something new.
I am glad I opened my eyes and took a chance. Something so insignificant at first may actually turn into something surprisingly meaningful…Try it yourself!
In the world of job interviews, there are precious few pots of gold to be found at the end of the rainbow. And yet, once you find one pot of gold, there are many ways to actually ensure that you have a higher than average chance of finding another one.
At least that’s how I felt at once I received an opportunity to work for Microsoft. The day I got the phone call offering me a job, I resisted the urge to run around the house screaming like a Madagascarian macaque on three shots of espresso and a rotten banana.
I’d like to think that I’ve been doing this for a while, but the reality is that in the world of job interviews there really is no hard-and-fast rule to ensure that you can get any job you want. But before we all throw ourselves off the nearest cliff, rest assured that there are ways that you can ensure your success, at least in the dreaded job interview.
Based on experience and after several bouts of trial and error, I managed to get a rough sense of what employers are looking for in potential interviewees. Since its interview season, I hope this helps.
The first 5 seconds:
· Walk in a measured pace, confident in your step
· Greet them
· Address them by name
· Thank them for travelling to your location
· Ask them if you may take a seat
· Be courteous and polite.
1) Appear literate and knowledgeable
If you don’t read, you’re already at a disadvantage – especially if you’re looking to get into a more marketing-related role. Read books and follow blogs in your chosen field – pick up quotes, concepts and ideas and show how they relate to the job – but in moderation, you don’t want to come across as a braggart.
2) Research your interviewer
If you know their name, Bing it. If they have a blog, read it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about it in the interview, and at least mention it somewhere in conversation. It demonstrates that you’re tenacious, persistent and have taken the time to do your due diligence.
If they or their team have won awards recently, ask them about what they did to be awarded such accolades. If their workplace has won awards, ask them about its effect on company culture. If the person you’re interviewing is someone prominent and in the news, make sure you research them thoroughly, but avoid bringing up any sensitive or contentious issues in the interview.
3) Research your company
Find up-to-the-minute news concerning the company (even minutes before your interview) and keep yourself informed. Knowledge is power. If you have a smartphone, make sure you check it frequently before the interview to keep yourself informed on the latest developments. Candidates who do this often impress their interviewers because it demonstrates their preparedness and commitment to the company.
4) Exude confidence and polish in your presentation
a. Pause before speaking, take your time. Your presence should be an economy of movement. Watch politicians orate to understand how they use body language to add meaning to their statements.
b. Comb your hair. Shave (if you tend to grow a beard). Cut your fingernails.
c. Wear a tiepin, maybe a kerchief in your *** pocket and that nice watch and cuff links. Make sure your clothes are ironed (especially your collar) and that your shoes are polished.
d. Facial expressions should be guarded and reflect deep thought. Avoid blank, bored stares by exercising your facial muscles to reflect an expression of mild surprise mixed with a knowing glance.
5) Never, ever, use colloquialisms
Employers hate it when you use slang or colloquial tongue – “like”, “er”, “yeah”, “smoked them”, rushed them”, “aced it” – especially ones that the employer doesn’t understand, or doesn’t even moderately relate to. The last thing you want to do is make them feel old.
6) Be bold and be plucky…
…but don’t put the employer on the spot with your questions. Don’t ask mundane or hopelessly granular questions about one of their least-known products to demonstrate your in-depth knowledge. If you sound like a smartass, they’ll reject you right away.
Be mature with your humour and don’t unnecessarily bash competitors to impress your interviewer – overbashing competitors makes you look desperate, obsequious and pandering, and may suggest an inability to be objective in criticism. It also tells them that you are hostage to your emotions – a quality that can just as easily be used against colleagues and coworkers in an unguarded moment. They won’t like the thought.
Let your employers know that you use their products and that you have your own opinions about them. Usually employers like candidates with independent viewpoints, as long as any comments made are well-thought and conveyed respectfully. Respect the seniority of your interviewer. They’re in their position for a reason. Please don’t try to (fecal matter of a bull) them.
That’s all for now. How did I do? I’d be happy if you told me how close to the mark these recommendations were. Remember, if these recommendations don’t work perfectly the first time, keep practicing.
Every year students enter into higher education institutions to gain knowledge and the skill set to create great products that may benefit society. Students are the future, full of ideas, energy, and relentless drive to succeed. Employers are in search of great students who show their innovative abilities, their project management understanding, their technical depth, but most importantly the world is waiting for you to turn your ideas into real products.
The rewards are beyond the monetary prizes or the all paid expense trip to New York. The journey and experiences gained will help you in your career path. Imagine Cup is the platform for you to learn and make mistakes. The lessons you take away will help turn you into a better engineer and designer. The insights obtained will make you a more attractive candidate for employers. I can personally say that participating in Imagine Cup really provided me with a stronger understanding of my responsibilities in this world and has helped me with my career. Visit ImagineCup today and register, competition deadlines are fast approaching! Hear and learn about the experience from a McGill University participant here.
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Registering your Windows Phone 7
Writing applications for the Windows Phone is really easy, and the provided emulator allows you to test it relatively well. However, there will come a time when you will want to run your application on an actual phone. Microsoft allows students to register their phones and publish apps on the Marketplace for free, but the process is a bit more complicated than for other people. So, I’ve created this guide to help you get started and to find out what to expect from this whole process.
Registering your Windows Phone 7
First thing is to actually create an account on the App Hub. When you sign in for the first time, you should be presented to the following page:
Fill it up, and make sure you select Student. Otherwise, you will have to pay an annual fee of 99$. Also, make sure the e-mail you are using has been validated though DreamSpark. That’s how Microsoft can verify if you’re a student! If you haven’t registered for DreamSpark, you can do so here. The rest of the signup is pretty straightforward, so I’ll skip it in order to keep things short.
Once that is all done, you will notice that you still have a validation problem and cannot publish apps or register your phone. Indeed, GeoTrust needs to validate your information on behalf of Microsoft before you can do anything. However, since you are running a Student account, they will not contact you before you publish your first application. Therefore, you need to publish an app in order to get things rolling. If you simply want to run your app on your phone and aren’t ready to put it on the Marketplace, you can simply publish a dummy app. The application can be very simple (i.e.: the default layout when you create a new project in Visual Studio). The point is simply to get GeoTrust to call you. Chances are you won’t even pass validation. (I know I didn’t J) Otherwise, be sure to follow the guidelines, or your application will be rejected.
Here is a walkthrough for publishing your app on the Marketplace.
Shortly after you publish your app, you should receive your first e-mail from GeoTrust:
*** NOTE: This email was automatically generated from an unmonitored mailbox. ***
The person identified below requested a Microsoft Windows Phone Marketplace developer account on behalf of Shahrad Rezaei. GeoTrust, a Microsoft partner, needs more details to complete Marketplace registration.
Name: Shahrad Rezaei
Phone: (555) 555-1234
Successful Marketplace registration generates a code signing certificate that will identify Shahrad Rezaei as the responsible publisher.
Shahrad Rezaei identified you as someone who can authorize this request on behalf of Shahrad Rezaei. If you do not have this capability, then please notify Shahrad Rezaei, then access the URL below and click "I Do Not Approve".
***Note that canceling this account will require the requesting individual to create a new Marketplace account using a different Windows Live ID and pay an additional registration fee.***
Please follow the URL below to approve or not approve this request:
If you have any questions, please consult the requestor, Shahrad Rezaei, or contact GeoTrust Customer Support at:
GeoTrust Customer Support
Hours of Operation: Mon - Fri 05:00 - 17:00 (PST)
Phone: 1-866-436-8787 or 1-678-366-8399 option 2
Live Chat: http://www.geotrust.com/support
Two days later, I got another e-mail:
Jan 05, 2011
Order number: *******
Dear Shahrad Rezaei,
GeoTrust, is a verification and authentication agency employed by Microsoft to confirm the accuracy of the information you provided to Microsoft during your enrollment for Windows Marketplace for Mobile for Mobile Publisher ID. Microsoft requires this independent verification in order to issue you a publisher ID.
In order for GeoTrust to confirm your information in terms of Microsoft's requirements, GeoTrust must receive a copy of your valid government issued photo identification (for example: a passport or driver's license), attached to the Identification Confirmation Letter below.
Please print the Identification Confirmation below and follow the instructions provided to complete the Identification Confirmation.
Fax or e-mail the following documents to the contact information listed below.
It is important that you send GeoTrust the above documents via fax or e-mail within three (3) business days. This will accelerate the identity verification process which will enable you to submit and publish applications to the GeoTrust and start earning revenue.
On behalf of your Microsoft Windows Marketplace for Mobile application, your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated!
Live Chat: https://www.geotrust.com/support/chat/order-processing.html
-----------------PLEASE PRINT BELOW-----------------------
IDENTIFICATION CONFIRMATION INSTRUCTIONS
1. All fields in the letter must be filled in completely.
2. This letter must be signed with a handwritten signature by Shahrad Rezaei.
3. This letter must include a photocopy of a government issued identification for Shahrad Rezaei.
4. Digital signatures or stamped signatures are not acceptable.
5. Fax or e-mail the letter back to GeoTrust by Fax: 650-237-8871, or Email: email@example.com
Order number: *******
I understand that GeoTrust, Inc. received a request to verify certain information for my application to Microsoft for Shahrad Rezaei (Individual).
I am the contact listed in the request. This letter serves to confirm my identity as submitted for inclusion in my Publisher ID.
******* Place Photocopy ID here *******
I confirm and warrant that this is an unaltered, exact copy of my Driver's License or Passport.
Print Name: Shahrad Rezaei
ID # _____________________________
Exp. Date: _____________
State of Issuance: __________________
--------------- END LETTER CONTENT ------------
In a nutshell, this message is saying that in order to complete the registration process, I need to send back a scan of either your driver’s licence or your passport, and fill out the rest of the form. Notice that you can crop the picture as long as the information on it is visible (this picture might actually be too small). Another thing you can notice is that you actually need to sign the document by hand, which means that you will need to print it, sign it, re-scan it and send it back. If you don’t have a scanner, you can also fax it to (650) 237-8871.
In a few days, your App Hub dashboard should say that your identity has been verified. But, you cannot deploy your applications to your phone quite yet. You still need to complete the last step: registering your phone.
The application to do so is available as part of the Windows Phone Developer tools. It should bein your Start Menu under “All Programs” → “Windows Phone Developer Tools” → “Windows Phone Developer Registration”. Once the wizard appears, simply enter the Windows Live ID and password you used to sign up for the App Hub, and you’re done. Make sure that your phone is connected to the Zune Client, that the phone is not on the lock screen (the page that appears when you leave your phone idle) and that you are connected to the Internet.
Once that’s done, you can deploy your apps to your phone from within Visual Studio. Make sure that when compiling, you are deploying to the device, and not the emulator. Again, the phone must be connected through the Zune client and must not be locked. Congratulations!
If you’ve experienced any problems, you can get some help by posting on the App Hub forums under the “Registering with App Hub” section. If you’re having some problems with GeoTrust, you can go in a live chat session with them here.
Happy programming! J