Midterms are finally over (having stretched over 4 weeks) and despite the extended period of time, the convergence of lab reports, fourth year project requirements, and a software engineering project have sucked up just about all the time I can devote and still get enough sleep. But now that they’re out of the way, I find myself with some more time to think. Think about the short term, this semester, think about the medium term, until I graduate next year, and the long term, the rest of my life.
Earlier today, I formally accepted the Program Manager co-op position at Microsoft. I suppose in consideration of my request during the interview, I will be working in the Office group, and more specifically the InfoPath team, which, admittedly, is a product I know very little about. When asked if I knew about the product, my mind’s eye leapt to the Office 2007 install screen where I uncheck options such as Access and InfoPath.
Thinking that probably wasn’t the best answer to the question, I simply told the truth; I know very little about InfoPath. I say, it’s a form designer or something along those lines, right?
Fortunately, I was able to speak with my manager-to-be. He gave a fantastic, concise overview of the product and the direction they’re taking it. After a couple use cases, I felt I had a grasp of at least the main goals of the product, if not the details.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that I might have preferred to work on a product that I am more familiar with; however, I did mention my interest in user experience and interface design when prompted. My thought is this: I’d rather work on something I enjoy in a product that I can’t relate with as well than work on something I’m not interested in on a product I use every day. We’ll see if that mindset is justified.
While I’m very excited about the prospect of working at Microsoft in the fall, my proximity to graduating from this 5 year engineering program has me considering my life afterward. I’m not looking forward to that with quite so much enthusiasm.
Thus far,Â my life has been structured. Six years in elementary school. Three in both junior and senior high school. Five years at the University of Waterloo. Those last five years could be further divided into semesters of work and study, an even more defined pattern. But when I think about April 2010, the beginning of the rest of my life, the vast unknown spooks me.
Do I try to cocoon myself in further studies by pursuing graduate studies? At the very least, that would give me a few more years toÂ figure things out. What if I receive a full-time offer from Microsoft? Am I ready to commit the rest of my life to this vast thing I know only as a ‘career’?
For a few years, while I trudged through the first half of my degree program, I answered my parents’ questions of my future with, oh, I still have time. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. I do. So much. The problem is that thinking about it is scary. Just like when I had to decide what to do after high school, the unknown that stands before me is very murky. I wanted to ignore the problem for as long as I could.
And the time to face this problem is now. I am gearing up to potentially continue with graduate studies. I’m also preparing to do as well as humanly possible at the upcoming Microsoft opportunity, in the hopes of receiving a full-time offer. I want to keep my options open. This semester, more than ever, I’m trying to bring my marks up even more and get on Dean’s List again. I’m realizing that getting 95% or 100% on an exam is no longer impossible, so when I recognize mistakes after writing one, I’m disappointed. Contrast this with my first semester at Waterloo, fresh out of high school on PEI, not even knowing if I could be average.
It’s a good thing that I’m not realizing this too late; I still have some time to figure things out before graduation. I need to find the goal for my life. That it’s easier said than done would be a gross understatement. Wish me luck.