A while back, Josh asked for his blog readers' opinions on why somebody should want to join the Developer Solutions team that he leads. He's already received a great response from an outside reader, but I thought it might add something to hear a testimonial from the horse's mouth.
I've been working on the Developer Solutions team since it's beginning about six months ago (remember, I'm still a Microsoft newbie). I'm 100% entry-level. A junior program manager. Not experienced. Probationary. You get the picture. Despite my inexperience, I've had opportunities to be involved in large, cross-divisional projects that many other PMs might not get to experience until they've been at the company for a few years. In the past nine months, I've had a chance to:
1.) Help drive the Microsoft Forums platform and engage directly with the community via the MSDN Forums. This has been some very rewarding work, because I get a chance to interact with our community moderators quite a bit, and it's nice to actually talk directly with the customers that are seeing a benefit to all of the work we are doing. I've had a chance to work on researching and specing some features (my reputation system ideas, web services for the forums) that have the potential to be used by hundreds of thousands of customers. Cool stuff.
2.) Get my hands dirty maintaining and improving our internal forums tracking tool, Answerme. Answerme was Josh's creation--it's an internal website based on SQL Server 2005 and ASP.NET 2.0 that allows our product teams to assign forum questions to one another and generate statistics reports on the activity in the forums. Josh's favorite quote for the tool is from the movie "Clerks": "(Answerme) isn't even supposed to be here today..." The tool was supposed to be replaced months ago, but as prototypes tend to do, it's now the production tool being used by groups all over the company, not just inside Developer Division. I've had the opportunity to work with a crack-team of web devs inside of our division to add features to Answerme to bulk it up to last for a couple of years, and it's been great experience for me. Of course, if you don’t like Answerme, it’s Josh’s fault. J
3.) PM a VS Power Toy between prototype and release of the first community version. I don’t just deal with the forums—I also get to get involved in the Visual Studio Power Toys as well. I was able to work on specs, basic code changes, release efforts around the TFS Administration Tool—a tool that’s been downloaded nearly 2,000 times already by customers…and it’s still in beta!
4.) Work with a fun, very talented group of people. Yea, yea, I’m sure most groups trying to market a position say this, but if you think about it—isn’t this really a key factor when you’re looking for a job? You want to work around people that will help you be successful, and help you have fun while doing it. The people on the team are just those kinds of people—people that make you look forward to coming to work in the morning. Did I mention they blog? Craig (MSBee Dev), Kannan (TFS Admin Tool Dev), Josh (Lead Program Manager), Sara (Power Toys Program Manager).
5.) Contribute to a team that really is making a difference. The Power Toys for Visual Studio 2005 have over 7,000 downloads in just a few months of beta releases. The MSDN Forums have been used to answer over 55,000 questions, with another 2,000+ questions being answered every week. Answerme is a tool that spams people company-wide. J I even get to spam the division with community update mails every other week. What other entry-level guy can say all that?
Did I mention we're hiring? :)