Wrapping Up

Tomorrow is my last day at Microsoft, at least for the time being. After exactly 16 weeks, my internship is drawing to a close, and after checking off a couple more tasks tomorrow, it’ll have been successfully completed. How do I measure success in this instance? I’ve learned a lot about the Program Manager role, as it is defined at Microsoft. I’ve gained valuable insight on what it means to be a full-time employee. I’ve had a ton of fun with the team and the intern program. Finally, I will walk out of Building 36 tomorrow, with a full-time offer in hand.

I’m about halfway done packing things up to return to Canada. I’ve collected many things that will need to be shipped back separately. While it feels like the 4 months have flown by, each item I pack into my suitcases brings back a specific memory of the semester. It makes those memories more vivid.

I’ve always been very loyal to my places of internship, but this Microsoft team experience has been especially deep. The team welcomed me with open arms, inviting me to all sorts of after-work events. Perhaps most touching was the invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner at a teammate’s home, along with other friends. The display of friendship meant a lot to me. Despite being an intern, I felt as if I had known some of these people for years. They made me feel like an integral part of the team.

As a result, it is with both sadness and contentment that I’ll be leaving tomorrow. I’ll be sad to leave a great group of people, but it’s been a fantastic experience working with them. Thank you, team InfoPath.

After Eight Weeks

I originally wrote this as an email to close friends of mine, giving them the lowdown on what life’s been like as a Microsoft intern. An edited and slightly expanded version follows:

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Yeah, eight weeks ago, I arrived in Seattle, eager to start my internship at Microsoft. It hasn’t felt nearly that long, and I’m a bit sad that it’s gone by so quickly – there are only 8 weeks left. I’m interning as a Program Manager on the Microsoft Office InfoPath team. Basically, in this role, one works with other PMs, developers, and testers in planning, designing, implementing and supporting features throughout the lifecycle of the product. Due to the timeframe that my internship falls, I’m more in the dogfooding + planning and designing phases. I’ve caught on to some of the business-speak (BS?) – customer-facing, user-aligned, end-to-end scenarios, value-add, etc. InfoPath (very few people I’ve spoken to outside of Microsoft have even heard of it) is a product that allows users to create powerful forms for more accurate data collection. It might sound mundane, but after working with some customers and their scenarios, I can see the utility of the product. Think about how many forms you fill every time you go through any procedure. We make that experience better and more efficient for all parties.

One reason I think the time has flown by is because I’ve tried to integrate myself completely into the PM role. Microsoft has been great in giving me the opportunity to try out every aspect of the PM role in 4 months. Usually these experiences are spread out across a product lifecycle of several years. I’m very grateful for it, and it’s meant for some hectic work and late hours. Fortunately, the team I work with is phenomenal. There are crazy good developers, extremely creative PMs and the management is intelligent.

I had heard good things about working at Microsoft before I got here, but now that I’m in the thick of things, I appreciate the environment even more. There’s a very strong focus on personal and professional development. The structure they’ve put into place seems to reward merit. Furthermore, there are a ridiculous number of benefits to the job (not so much for me, but for full-time), from pretty much free everything-healthcare-related to tuition reimbursements for part-time graduate programs to mentoring from some leadership personnel.

And it’s that graduate program they support that has me seriously considering jumping into full-time work after graduation, given I an offer (I’m told I’m on track – my midterm review is this upcoming week). At this point, I don’t think I will pursue a doctorate degree – I want too much to work in practicality and with people. With that said, I still do want a Masters degree, and while my original plan was to continue on with studies after my Waterloo degree, things have changed. I’m mulling things over, and I will be setting up an appointment to speak with my recruiter at Microsoft to discuss some pros and cons. Of course, everything hinges on getting an offer in the first place, so I’m giving 110% effort on the job right now.

Outside of work, I’ve been out in nature as much as possible. The Northwest United States is home to a plethora of mountain ranges, ocean views, and fantastic vistas. I’ve tried my best to get out to do some photography, which has been generally successful. Now, as the winter approaches, the weather’s turned to crap, showering or raining 80% of the time. But while the weather was nice, I climbed part of Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in the lower 48, drove through the Cascade Mountain Range, and visited Whidbey Island. Of course, I also explored some of Seattle and the surrounding region. There are some very cool, quaint districts, each with a very distinct feel. The diversity of a larger city is refreshing. My flickr account has been occasionally updated with some photos, but there sits a huge backlog, yet to be processed on my hard drive.

Nikon D90 at Kerry Park

The internship and everything surrounding it has been fantastic. The program is extremely well-run, and with the goal of enticing students to return for a full-time position, Microsoft has succeeded marvelously. It probably helps that I was quite partial to the company to begin with. Nonetheless, an eminently enjoyable experience!

Office 2007 with Old Menus – UBitMenu Plugin

Like the fancy looking graphs and other features in Office 2007 but don’t want to learn the new (is it still considered new at this point?) ribbon interface, the UBitMenu plugin may be up your alley. It doesn’t replace the ribbon toolbar, but instead creates another tab that tries to mimic the menu system of Office 2003. You still get all the formatting features found in Office 2007, but in the previous interface. It’s free and covered by a Creative Commons License.

UBitMenu

Browser-Based Office – Just What I’m Looking For

I’ve used Google Documents and I’ve used Adobe Buzzword. I’ve even tried Microsoft’s Office Live Workspace. But in the end, I was looking for something more like Office 2007 but with a more streamlined collaboration/cloud storage option and it sounds like Microsoft’s browser-based Office will be just the thing I’ve been searching for.

Reports are rampant that Microsoft will showcase its online Office suite during this week’s PDC. The applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will all use the new ribbon interface, which I’ve grown to love, and essentially work like the desktop version, albeit significantly dumbed down.

I’ll be looking forward to some more details on how the package is going to work, licensing details, supported browsers, the storage method, etc. For sure, this PDC will be an exciting one with lots of Windows 7 presentations already having taken place.