My First Year at Microsoft
Today, December 10, marks my one year anniversary working for Microsoft as a Technical Evangelist (TE). It has been an amazing year, filled with great excitement and immense fear. Microsoft is, without any question, the most amazing company I have ever worked for, and probably ever will. I can’t think of any other place I would like to be.
My journey actually begins a few years prior to my joining the company. It was 2012 and I was a consultant at Daugherty Business Solutions, in St. Louis. I was speaking at the St. Louis Days of Dot Net conference and had just finished my presentation. I went to the speaker’s room and struck up a conversation with another speaker, from Microsoft.
We talked about technology, our presentations, and speaking in front of people. I then made the comment, “I had an amazing time, I wish there was a job like this.”
The Microsoft employee quickly replied, “There are jobs like this, I’m a Technical Evangelist and this is part of what I do.”
It was the turning point for my career. I knew I wanted to become a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft. The next step was to look at the career web site for any open positions. A trip to careers.microsoft.com, then building a Microsoft-ready resume, was where I needed to go. I also did quite a large amount of web searching, looking for any helpful information about interviewing with Microsoft.
I did find a TE position, located in Minneapolis, so I applied (on-line) and kept my fingers crossed. After about a month, I was contacted by a recruiter and scheduled a phone interview. I can’t tell you how excited and panicked this made me, “OMG, Microsoft contacted me for an Interview.” This started my year-long interviewing process.
The first interview was with the recruiter. We had a very pleasant conversation, but did not really touch the technical depths I was expecting. I think she was looking to see if I had the passion, personality, and experiences to make it as a TE. I must have passed, because she scheduled another phone Interview with a TE in Illinois.
From the time I got home, to the day-of my second interview, I spent all of my free time brushing up on my Microsoft skills. I felt as if I was cramming for final exams in college. Eventually, the day came, and I booked a private room to have my lunch-time phone interview. I was a nervous wreck and had no idea what to expect. Panic would be an understatement.
The interview started very nicely. I was asked about my current job, what kind of programming I’m doing, and some details regarding the technology I’m using. We then started discussing some of the technological aspects of .net and a few computer science related topics. The interview lasted about an hour and it really was a very pleasant experience. To be honest, it was more like two friends having a conversation about technology, over being a technical interview. We finished with the, “Someone will contact you about the next steps.”
It was about one week, and I was contacted by the same recruiter. She informed me the technical screening went very well and wanted to know if I was interested in moving forward with the interview process. How could I say no? She said to expect someone to contact me in the upcoming days.
The next interview I had was with the manager of the open position. This was a telephone interview and we discussed technical topics, business situations, and the life of a Technical Evangelist. It was a great conversation and I learned a lot about the role. I also learned a lot about myself, which was a great aspect of the interview. We concluded with the “We’ll contact you about the next steps.”
The recruiter contacted me a few days later to inform me of being selected for “Finals.” Finals is the last, and most intense, part of the interviewing process. I would be flown to a Microsoft office, where I would face a day-long loop of interviews from a number of different people. Microsoft would take care of the transportation, hotel, and meals; and I would have to take care of making the best impression. So, it was off to Minneapolis!
Did I mention I also needed to prepare a 10-minute presentation on a current Microsoft technology?
I arrived in Minneapolis, got my rental car, and drove to the hotel. I stopped along the way to get some dinner, as the rest of the evening was going to be preparing for the interview. My presentation topic was on using Azure table storage. Everything needed to be polished and I did not sleep very well…too much going over and over in my head.
My alarm went off and I jumped into the shower. I put on my best suit and the new tie my wife helped pick out. This was the interview(s) of my life and I wanted to look my best, despite not sleeping very well. The whole time I was getting ready, I was rehearsing my presentation and trying to answer anticipated questions. Eventually, it was time to drive to the office.
I arrived at the Minneapolis Microsoft office and proceeded to sign in. The receptionist informed the manager I was here and had me wait in the lobby. It turned out there were a other people waiting, also. I struck up a conversation with them, only to learn they, too, were interviewing for the Technical Evangelist role. This was my first time at “Finals” and I had no idea there was going to be a competition for the position.
It’s not as bad as it seems, but Finals is where Microsoft brings in the top few candidates considered for the position. Each candidate will have several, 1-hour interviews, with a different person from Microsoft. My day of interviewing was with five people, including the manager for the position. I also was required to give my 10-minute presentation, where the audience was the entire group of interviewers. I was the most-nervous at presentation time, but was told I did well.
The round of finals concluded with a conversation with the manager and he let me know someone would be contacting me about the results. He let me know I did well and was very pleased with the initial results; however, the team needed to digest everything and make a final decision. There was only one position and about five final candidates.
A few days later, I received a call from the manager. He was very nice, but let me know I would not be offered a job at this time. He also provided great feedback and even shared some tips on how to do better, should I consider another position at Microsoft. Ultimately, the person given the position edged me out, technically, and they have to go with the best person for the position. Little did I know I would end up working with the person who was offered the job.
To make a very long story, not-as-long, I will spare the details of the year. Needless to say, I went through the interviewing process three times before I was selected to become a Microsoft Technical Evangelist. My next two finals were in Mountain View, California; and Dallas, Texas. It was the Dallas round that I landed the job.
So, here we are. One year and an amazing journey to have the best job I could ever imagine. Microsoft is an incredible company to work for and the people are great to work with. It is also a scary place, mainly because there are so many people who are smart, which makes it easy to feel like the little-fish in the pond. Fortunately, every person I’ve met seems to want the common goal of helping Microsoft succeed; which means we all have to help each other.
It is also very exciting working for a company which is reinventing itself. Microsoft has made a number of changes and it almost feels like it's a brand new company. I think there are some very exciting times, ahead, and I am thrilled to be part of the team who to helps talk about the technology and work with developers who are building the next generation of amazing applications.
In a future post, I’ll talk about some of the things I do at Microsoft, as a TE.
If you have any questions, or would like more information about Microsoft, Technical Evangelists, or interviewing, shoot me an email at: AskFink@Microsoft.com