Microsoft: Making Others Cool
Seeking the best talents to deliver value to its clients, Microsoft offers a two-year customised learning experience for graduates recruited from technology and non-technology fields of study globally.
The Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) programme invites graduates to ‘come as yourself, do what you love’. Placements range across various aspects of the business, from technical development, IT, operations, marketing, sales, to consulting and support, enabling candidates to find their best fit.
Accelerated and customised graduate training
Marcus Tee started interning at Microsoft in 2016 and is presently Account Technology Strategist for public sector clients. As a Math and Economics graduate from the Nanyang Technological University, he was determined to venture into a new field and chose the dynamic industry of technology.
Fellow MACH candidate, Utkarsha Singh, worked in product development and consulting for about four and a half years before embarking on her MBA at the Singapore Management University. Today, Singh is a Business Solutions Professional.
“I had a couple of offers, some even offering MBA scholarships. However, I chose Microsoft since the company has been on a strong path of resurgence in the last few years, with growing share prices reflecting so,” Singh said.
She applied for the MACH MBA internship programme during her postgraduate studies and was selected as a Technology Evangelist intern after a day-long assessment centre.
“On joining as a MACH MBA hire, I had the opportunity to attend onboarding sessions in Prague and Seattle. Not only did I learn about Microsoft’s technology and culture, I also had amazing experiences meeting fellow MACHs from 40 other countries, getting to know their roles, experiences, learning from their challenges!”
Singh also found the opportunities to shadow colleagues from different teams useful for exposure to various parts of the business, letting her find out more about suitable roles.
“The internship experience was replete with learning experiences through fun and challenging times alike. One of my key takeaways was that we do not have to know everything, but it’s important to have the aptitude and attitude to learn,” Singh said.
Tee, on the other hand, relishes the variety of employee training at Microsoft and the spirit of learning it inculcates in its employees.
“Microsoft has courses such as ‘Challenger Sales’ recommended for everyone. This is a six-week online course, conducted by a well-known consultant to guide us to understand our customers better,” Tee said.
In addition, he signed up for free optional courses to explore interests in different areas. He recently completed a course on ‘Impact Story Telling’ and earned a modern marketer badge.
He said Microsoft partners with several online course organisations and employees are encouraged to learn open source technologies, including Linux and Python, apart from in-house technologies.
“Microsoft organises Winter Ready, a five-day tech jamming session with all technical folks in Seattle. I had the privilege to join the annual event this year. Beyond improving our technical skills, we met and interacted with the product development and engineering groups to delve deeper into specific topics. Everyday is a learning opportunity in Microsoft!”
Overcoming challenges to bring value to clients
Thanks to the wide spectrum of training and development opportunities at Microsoft and Tee’s love of learning in an all-new industry, he now describes himself as a “virtual Chief Technology Officer” for his clients.
“We act as technical thought leaders by sharing our knowledge of Microsoft platforms with our clients,” he said.
As a non-IT graduate, Tee felt his biggest challenge was having deep technical discussions when engaging customers. After picking up most of the technical knowledge on his own, he went the extra mile to try the recommended solutions hands-on.
“Reading information from the product deck serves as a good start to getting more high level knowledge, but I always challenge myself to try out the solutions to confirm my understanding.”
He also actively discusses solutions with his colleagues to absorb as much useful information as possible, in addition to brainstorming for strategies, learning the thought processes of his seniors.
“I managed to find a few good mentors in the organisation, and they are always happy to share with me their experiences and provide guidance. People in Microsoft have made my journey more fruitful and smoother,” Tee said.
For Singh, her team partners with other tech companies to showcase industry-focused solutions. Engaging with the C-level executives and decision makers in enterprises, she helps them envision how to leverage on Microsoft’s technologies to transform their businesses.
Reflecting on the learning journey
On her first MACH placement as a Technology Evangelist intern, Singh said, “I had the opportunities of evangelizing and showcasing some of the latest and greatest artificial intelligence capabilities of the Microsoft platform to our customers and communities.”
She counts an open environment and a flat hierarchy as elements of Microsoft’s culture, letting employees “fail fast, learn and grow”.
“Employees are encouraged to ask questions and share perspectives candidly, and to challenge the status quo if required. Our leaders are easily approachable. You have the flexibility to define your role and deliver maximum impact by taking lead on opportunities and driving results,” Singh said.
As for Tee, the technology giant’s mission to empower every person and every organization resounded with him.
“After joining, I truly understood what it means to be a technology provider. Microsoft provides technology to people so that they can use the tools to achieve their goals,” Tee said.
As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “If you want to be cool, you can go somewhere else, but if you want to make others cool, come to Microsoft.”