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Published: Sunday, August 22, 1999

My Summer at Microsoft
By Scott Mitchell


Well, in case you don't know me, my name is Scott Mitchell, and I am one of webmasters for 4GuysFromRolla.com. I write the majority of the ASP articles, am a senior at the University of Missouri - Rolla, and, last summer, interned at Microsoft. I had mentioned that I would be interning there on 4Guys a couple times, and have since received a few emails from random folks who asked what working for Microsoft was like.

- continued -

One of the many things that makes Microsoft unique is its interviewing techniques. I've interviewed with a number of companies, and most interviews emcompass questions like:

  • Discuss your previous work-related experience
  • What skills can you bring to our team?
  • Have you ever worked with ... insert your favorite technology here...

In a Microsoft interview, the questions are radically different. The interviewer is not out to determine what you know, but rather out to ascertain your problem solving skills and your intellectual potential. Microsoft usually asks brain teasers and problem solving problems in their interviews. They're not interested if you get the right or wrong answers, but rather how you tackled the problem. There is a list of Microsoft interview questions on the website; these are actual questions that we were asked in our interviews with Microsoft.

Working at Microsoft is an unreal experience. I am not talking about the work, or the people, but rather their office buildings. They're freakin' amazing: leather furniture, ping pong tables, arcade games set to free play, pool tables, free soda and juice, beautiful artwork from around the world, and other amazing artifacts. It's something you have to see to believe.

I know that there is a general consensus that Microsoft works its employees like animals, demanding insane hours and strict loyalty. At Microsoft, you are expected to get your job done. If that takes you eight hours a week or eighty, you're expected to put it in. Did I work long hours? Yes. Did I work on the weekends? Most of them. Am I bitter because of it? No, although I am glad to be back to school, where there is an abundance of free time!

So, you're probably wondering what I did there, what group I worked for, what projects I worked on. Well, I was a Software Engineer (i.e.: a developer, someone who writes code) for the Office group. I can't tell you exactly what I worked on (damn NDAs), but the technologies used were: ASP, SQL Server, and Exchange Server.

All in all it was a great experience. I really didn't learn any new stuff concerning ASP, but improved my VB component building skills, and learned a lot about Exchange Server. I don't know if I'll go back to Microsoft to work full time. I am a pretty lazy guy, and while I didn't mind putting in the long hours, I'd rather not! :) In a perfect world, I'll be doing 4Guys as a full time job!

Update! - 9/12/00
Well, I have graduated from school and am not working at Microsoft, despite an offer with the Hotmail group. I decided to spend my time on 4Guys and writing instead! Three months into it... I think I've made the right decision! :-)

Happy Programming!


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