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This past summer Microsoft hired 16 interns from Olin College—approximately five percent of the entire student population at the school. Three of them had a particularly interesting assignment: Varun Mani ‘12, Poorva Singal '12 and Ananya Kejriwal ‘12 were placed on a 100-plus person application development team and set about developing the first applications for Microsoft's next operating system, Windows 8, the company's biggest revision to Windows in 15 years.
The experience emphasized what Olin students do best—solve open-ended problems in a short amount of time. The platform and tools for Windows 8 were being refined as the interns were creating and planning for their applications, so the need to be flexible and creative was ever-present. Mani, who had interned at Microsoft the previous summer as well, was thrilled to be given the opportunity to learn something new and do something with major impact. In just 10 weeks, he engineered a newsreader program and weather application, architecting the back-end services for the apps this summer even as the toolkit was still taking shape.
"It was a pretty high-pressure internship, given the scale of Windows and the importance the company is placing on dynamic new Windows 8 apps," said Mani. "But, I loved every minute! This was a job that really mattered and I was really excited to be a part of it!"
Classmate Poorva Singal had a similar experience, learning new skills in a very short period of time. She wrote the WordHunt game included with Windows 8. The challenge of building this app was that it needed to use networking capabilities to handle two-player games. "I came into Microsoft not knowing anything about networking," Singal said. "But it was actually made pretty simple with all the APIs that Microsoft's created. It was actually not as hard as I thought. We finished the core of the networking within a week."
Meanwhile Ananya Kejriwal was busy writing MoPod, a podcast manager application. "I was amazed that Microsoft trusted its interns with such high impact projects: applications that were the face of Windows 8. I had an incredible experience and enjoyed all of it: brainstorming the application itself, designing the user experience, writing the code, and even triaging bugs."
In mid-September Microsoft invited 20 of the Windows application development interns responsible for coding the catalog of sample apps, to its BUILD conference in Anaheim, Calif., where they unveiled the new operating system; featuring apps as the centerpiece of functionality.