Olin and Microsoft - A New Era of Innovation

20% of last year's grads went to Microsoft? What's
going on?

We decided to take a closer look, and spoke to five
people -- one current student and four alumni -- to learn more about what it's
like to work at Microsoft and to better understand the Olin-Microsoft Mutual
Admiration Society. Here's who we spoke

Sam Yang ('13) -- Program Manager Intern -- Sam worked on the next generation of Office
products for the Windows 8 platform last summer.


Sam at a Microsoft event

Jeffrey Atkinson ('12) -- Program Manager in Xbox LIVE Knowledge
Services. As a PM, Jeffrey manages the
vision for a product or feature, works on the design, and collaborates between
developers, business teams, and other stakeholders.

Rose Zeller ('12) -- Developer on the Internet Explorer User
Experience, Rose works on implementing front-end features in IE.

Ellen Chisa ('10) -- Program Manager in Office Mobile Shared Services. Ellen's team coordinates all cross-platform
mobile development for Office.

Erik Kennedy ('10) -- Program Manager on Microsoft Access, Erik helps design the features for
the next product version.

Question: What made you decide to go to Microsoft, and
what do you enjoy about working there?

I work on an awesome team with a great culture and a lot
of autonomy. -- EK

It was obvious that the employees there not only wanted
to see me grow but also play a large part in that growth. There was an energy
and a care for peers that made it feel similar to Olin. Microsoft felt like a
place that I could foster the way I like to think, in the company of people who
cared about my growth. - SY

I chose my job because I wanted to try working in a large
corporation, and Microsoft, as one of the very largest, has an incredible
ability to reach and affect hundreds of millions of people around the world. The
scale of the impact I can have is huge -- small improvements I make are
multiplied millions of times over.  - JA

I like the interesting organizational behavior - Microsoft
is a big, complicated place, where you balance much more complicated needs than
other places, both from the user side and internal partner side.  This is a big deal to me because I plan to go
to business school after a few years at Microsoft.  In addition, a lot of Microsoft is based very
heavily on mentorship and growing in the PM role. Having a structured environment
to help learn the industry basics is important to me. -- EC

I chose to work at Microsoft full-time after two
incredibly fun and fulfilling summer internships on the IE team.  I love coding, and in my internships, I got
to dive right in and work on real features that will improve the browsing
experience for millions of users. The work environment is great - smart people
working on difficult problems that they care about, and it's cool to wear your
nerd t-shirts and jeans every day.  -- RZ


A group of Olin alumni on their first day of work at Microsoft

Question: What do you think the attraction is for
Oliners and for Microsoft?

There's a strong similarity between the problem solving
approach that Oliners  possess and that
Microsoft program managers inherently have. It is a comfort being thrown into
unknown areas, the desire to navigate within that space and identify the
resources and steps needed to develop a solution, and the capability of
integrating those elements to implementation. For this reason, it's no surprise
that there are a large number of Oliners working at Microsoft.  It makes sense that they'd go to a place
where they could employ the way of thinking that is so natural to them. It is a
balanced and mutual relationship between Olin and Microsoft. --SY

Many of the Oliners who work at Microsoft were attracted
for similar reasons to me -- particularly the massive global impact that
Microsoft products have on peoples' lives. Microsoft is in a very exciting
stage of its history right now, with many of our new products aligned around a
common design language and a common vision that the company has lacked in the
past. There's the potential to shape the future of computing in a truly
compelling way. That's what we're excited to do. -JA

Microsoft has great pay and benefits--and even though the
prestige of its products has suffered a dip, things are on an insane upswing
around here.  And plus, Microsoft knows
that Oliners rock their jobs, so that never hurts. -- EK

I think that right now, Microsoft is entering into a new
era of innovation.  It really is an
exciting place to work, and I think that's part of the attraction for
Oliners.  The Seattle area also has a
great alumni network that is nice to be a part of.  The role of Program Manager at Microsoft is
rather well-suited to students who've gone through the Olin curriculum,
especially those who like design work. - RZ

Microsoft is looking for PMs who are good at ambiguous
situations, think creatively about problems, and have experience doing
projects. In turn, Oliners are looking for a secure job early on in the job
cycle, a chance to work on interesting projects that impact millions/billions
of people, and mentorship and development. -- EC

Question: Any advice for Oliners who are considering
applying for a job or internship at Microsoft?

I grew so much this summer as a result of my internship.  As a program manager, you have full ownership
over your feature and have to make difficult decisions and be able to justify
them. I became an advocate and rather than just taking in from my surroundings,
I actively gave back to them. So I'd say to anyone who is unsure of applying to
Microsoft:  Ask yourself if you thrive in
an environment of people who care about your growth and expect great things
from you. Ask yourself if you want ownership of a feature that has the
potential to impact millions of people. Ask yourself if you want to be
challenged to grow and deliver and connect. -- SY

-by Ariana Chae '15

Posted in: Alumni Speak, Awesome Internships, Making a Difference, Olin Employers