Ian’s top eight things about working at Microsoft

Ian’s top eight things about working at Microsoft

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            One year ago today, I started my full-time (I was also a former summer intern) employment here at Microsoft. It seems like as good a chance as any to reflect on the things that I enjoy about working here. So since June 8th is the date, here are the top eight things that I love about working at Microsoft in general and on the Visual Studio Profiler in particular. By the way, I’ve really enjoyed my first year here so, if you are a cynic, you might want to go read Slashdot instead ;).


Number eight: Organization at work


            Compared to so many other jobs everything here is so well organized that it’s scary. When you work here you know the “chain of command” from the interns all the way up to Ballmer and Gates. There is never any confusion about who your boss really is, like there is in so many other companies. Plus the review process keeps you informed about how you are performing at your job. Getting good feedback is super important for being able to improve yourself as an employee.


Number seven: Making new contacts outside of my team 


            I’ve reserved a higher slot for my daily co-workers, but Microsoft is full of excellent and interesting people. You might meet them through working out some technical issue, chatting on a blog or playing ultimate Frisbee. At times it’s like a huge college campus full of very smart geeks who have a lot in common, which makes it pretty easy to meet new people.


Number six: Working for a company that is a newsmaker


            Sure, maybe it’s not always good news, but everyday Microsoft news is all over print and TV media. And the amount of internet and blogging traffic regarding the company was just stunning to me when I started working here. One way or another, other companies and the stock market are directly affected by choices made by Microsoft. And that’s the type of company that I want to work for.


Number five: Getting to enjoy products from your company


            For me, this involves all the Microsoft products that I don’t work on, but I still get to use and enjoy. I like going home and firing up Windows XP and playing some music in Windows Media Player. There is a definite small, but fun, sense of ownership in using products that were made by the company that I now work for. Plus, I get to be excited about upcoming products like the Xbox360 or possibly a computer with Windows Media Center Edition. Call it being a fanboy if you like, but I’m having a lot of fun with it!


Number four: Lots of cool things are happening elsewhere in the company


            Now I’m completely happy with my current job. But it is a sign of a good company (like Microsoft) when there are tons of other interesting jobs available internally. I love working on Visual Studio Team System (see item number one) but if I wasn’t working here I’d love to be working for: the usability team, or maybe Windows Media Center Edition, or one of the Xbox teams or working on the new IE7. The point is, it’s great to work somewhere with lots of interesting projects, not just the one that you’re currently working on.


Number three: Learning something new and applying it on the job


            Few things feel better then figuring out something new, and then using it to get the job done. Coming straight out of college, almost everything that I’m asked to do here is new to me. In all the crazy rush of cleaning up bugs for the release date, it’s good to step back and realize that I’m still learning lots of new tools and techniques that will help make be a better programmer. Also there are great trainings here, although I need to get around to actually making the time to attend more of them.


Number two: The co-workers


            This one is for my co-workers on the profiler team. It’s hard to get motivated or to really challenge yourself without other smart folks around to push you on. And we happen to have some of the smartest here on our team. In addition to being a bunch of smart guys, they are also pretty dang fun to hang out with, which is a major plus.


Number one: Working with the tools that you have helped to build every day


            This is the big one, and along with my co-workers the reason that I’m so happy on my current team. It’s a great feeling the first time you check in some code and then see your changes showing up in the IDE the next time you update. It’s a real sense that you are contributing to something big; and not just anything big, but something that I use to complete my job everyday. You know that I’m going to be thrilled for my first product launch when Visual Studio Team Systems is released November 7th.



            A big thanks goes out to everyone who I’ve worked with for helping to make this a great first year.