Microsoft, what a place. During my internship here, I’ve met incredibly kindhearted and talented people from the moment I got in the door. It’s enough to give anyone a bit of a case of impostor syndrome. Fortunately, you’ve got lots to do here to help you stretch and grow.
The aim of my stretch project, Campus 101, is to reach out to as many universities as we can and try to give people the confidence to apply to Microsoft. Sometimes people think they’re not from the right school or the right background to have a chance at being an employee here, but that’s just not the case. Microsoft thrives on diversity. Whether it’s neurodiversity, ethnic diversity, different backgrounds, experience, or gender. I wanted to help encourage everyone to challenge themselves to do more than they believe they can.
Giving students confidence
Campus 101 has several stages to encourage talented people and provide opportunities to empower them. Talented doesn’t always mean confident, so this is where the inspiring and empowering comes in. When I applied to Microsoft, I never thought I would get in. Now that I’m here, no one wants to see me leave!
We started off the year organising four events: Digital Transformation, Careers in Tech, Women in Tech, and Placement Insights. Each event was designed not only to showcase Microsoft culture and encourage people to apply, but also to let people from diverse backgrounds know that technology companies have a place for them. It was a great opportunity for me to able to teach people about technology and its culture. For example, we encouraged those who have studied business degrees that they could learn to program.
After that, we transition into visiting universities, going to campuses and talking with them on their home turf. This is a great opportunity for many of the interns to return to their universities and give back to the people and institution that got them here. I went to University of Reading where I made some great contacts and gained some incredible new friends.
Mentoring to help people succeed
Around three quarters of the way through our internships, we move into the next phase of Campus 101—helping with assessment centres. This is where we meet the new candidates, try to make them feel at ease so they can give their best, and help them start to feel like they are a part of the Microsoft family.
Regardless of whether you succeed at getting an internship, by the time you get to our doorstep you’re already a winner in my eyes. I not only tell the candidates that, but I often stay in touch with them and help guide them and their careers on LinkedIn—even if they go on to other great things besides Microsoft. I naturally have an energy and desire to help other people to succeed, and I’m boring enough to lecture them until they do.
“A simple act of kindness can create endless ripples.”
– Pushkar Saraf
The last part of Campus 101 is the Buddy Team, where we team up the successful applicants with a current intern in the same role. That way we can prepare the newbies for the jobs that they’ll be doing for the coming year. Plus, this helps them to start building their own community, which will be invaluable support for them during their year here.
What I’ve learnt about leadership
As we progressed through this year, I learnt that a leader isn’t someone who does all the work. If you do that, you’ll burn yourself out trying and not enough will get done. Instead, your job is to focus peoples’ efforts and get each task done as needed. When extra effort is required, it’s time to pitch in and make it happen. Being a part of the senior leadership in Campus 101 was a real pleasure. Helping all the teams and watching an army of talented interns running around organising everything was an incredible group effort. I now understand more about the managers that I’ve worked with over the years that I respect, more than I ever could have without Campus 101.
This is why I joined Campus 101—to give back to the institutions that got me where I am, to empower people to strive for the dreams they don’t know they can achieve yet, and to make sure the next lot of interns get to have the same Microsoft family that I’ve enjoyed while being here.
About the author
Adam is a Premier Field Engineer Intern. He studies Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity at Coventry University. At Microsoft, he sits within the secure infrastructure department. As part of his engineering role he helps advise some of Microsoft’s largest customers about their infrastructure and help keep them secure. He also enjoys teaching digital skills that we all need for a brighter future, through both coaching sessions and big event days.