Intern Role Profile - Public Relations & Internal Communications

Zain Luke Ali

Role: Internal Communications Manager – Microsoft UK Services

University & Course: Coventry University / Journalism & Media

Zain III

Hi, I’m Zain and as well as being one of the Content Leads for Be Your Future, I am also the Internal Communications Manager for the Microsoft UK Services business. Among other things, the UK Services business delivers strategy, consulting and support to Microsoft’s Enterprise customers – some of the biggest UK organisations in the private and public sector. It is a very customer focused part of the company, but my role is almost completely internal. I work within the Marketing Team and it is my responsibility to manage communications channels within the business and continually develop a communication strategy to enhance cross-team collaboration. I do this by managing the weekly internal newsletter, the intranet and all aspects of internal communications, including business updates. Essentially, it is my job to know everything about the amazing work Microsoft UK Services is doing, whilst making sure that the rest of the business knows about this too.

On top of my main responsibilities, I also manage events, the various employee awards programmes and something I really love – creative media! I have also had the opportunity recently to work with some big enterprise customers to help them with their own internal communications and media strategy as well as a local school to show them how technology can help productivity of the school.

I am now halfway through my placement year. I am loving every minute of it and have become so passionate about the company and the work I do here. The time is flying by, but it really is an incredible experience with some awesome opportunities. I would love to share some of my experiences with you and I hope that you will find it useful!

Why I love my role

One of my main responsibilities is to manage and produce UK Services news content and the weekly UK Services newsletter. This makes me the storyteller of the business and I love it! This is where I get to shout from the rooftops about all the fantastic work we do as an organisation. We’re a huge organisation, and it is easy to miss things. It’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen. I will dig out great stories about the work we are doing with our customers, interview the people at the heart of those stories and write engaging articles that really get the news out there and get people talking about it and learning from it too. I love writing and this allows me to get really creative every week and tell great stories to the rest of the business. It is also a really great way to meet new people from across the business – my role comes with endless networking opportunities!

My background has always been in journalism and media. This is what I study at university. This has really helped when it comes to producing written content but I have also been able to bring many other skills into my job role. When I started my placement, there was some video production going on internally, but not much. By demonstrating some of my skills early on in my placement, and producing video content for various purposes, I soon started to get noticed!This has now led to me also managing internal media for the UK Services business, producing video content for a variety of purposes – with some also going external on the official Microsoft UK YouTube page, which always puts a smile on my face! I also get to present in many of them, meaning my face gets out there across the business! Doing all of this takes up more of my time, but for me this is more of a hobby, so it’s great that I get to do it as part of my job! It has also created many more opportunities for me. The people right at the top have made video requests, which means I now know all of them really well and I have also had the chance to film and interview some important people from Microsoft, including Charbel Fakhoury (Vice President of Microsoft Services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and Chris Caposella (Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Microsoft). Oh and Jamal Edwards, founder of SB.TV. Being invited to be on the official Microsoft media team at the massive event that was Future Decoded was also one of my main highlights to date! And of course – I get to use these skills with Be Your Future too!

My role comes with huge amounts of variety. I’m not just doing one job ever; I’m always involved in several different things every week. That’s what makes this role so awesome! As I mentioned at the beginning, as well as my main job role I also manage events. I have worked on the events team for several internal events, and I am now completely managing and running an external event for some of our biggest customers – this will be held in the New Year. For events I get to manage the theme, content and approach, create visual and audio content, organise the presenters and work with external companies and agencies in various ways too. This is great experience and I really enjoy the responsibility.

Microsoft Services also run a number of award programmes throughout the year to recognise the exceptional work being done by people within the business. I get to manage the worldwide employee awards programme for the UK. This is a great role and means I get to work as part of an international programme, building links with worldwide awards teams and working with award co-ordinators in US. For the UK, I manage judging panel meetings and I get to announce the winners! It’s an enjoyable role which again gives me the opportunity to meet people from across the business and learn more about the great work going on.

As I said, my role is internal, which means I don’t often work with customers. Recently however, one of our big enterprise customers wanted to learn more about how they can improve their internal communications and media strategy. I must be doing something right because I have now been asked to work with some of the top people at this company to show them how some of the things I do in my role can really benefit their company. This is pretty exciting and it’s great that I actually get the opportunity to go in and work with a Microsoft Services customer – something I didn’t think I would be able to do.

What I have learnt

Zain II Where do I begin? I have learnt so much already! Working for Microsoft allows you to learn about the incredible industry that Microsoft is a part of. Microsoft is the company that introduced me to technology and the modern way of communicating. When you work for Microsoft, you learn how the company is involved in so much incredible work to make the future of technology something that empowers us all. I knew a little about this before I worked here, but seeing it first hand is something else! And…when you start at Microsoft, it all seems quite overwhelming and I think we all had doubts about how well we would be able to do our jobs, but if you’re a quick learner, you’ll do just fine here. I’m always learning, but I know a lot more now than I did before!

The whole Microsoft culture has also been a real eye opener. I expected everybody to be really techy, and thought I’d be working alongside an endless sea of computer wizards. This really isn’t the case. Whilst there are many computer wizards (This is the biggest technology company in the world after all) there are also many roles that don’t require those skills. I’m not technical at all really. What makes Microsoft awesome is the people, and people are all different with different skills. Microsoft is full of people with all sorts of skills and background. There is one thing that we all share though. Passion. Passion for the work Microsoft does and passionate about the part we play in that. And Microsoft is really passionate about its people – this is something I love.

Talking about people – the people at Microsoft really are awesome and you will be working alongside some amazing people. I have learnt how important it is to form successful working relationships with these people. This is a really important part of working for Microsoft. My manager and my teamare awesome and by forming a great working relationship it not only helps me with my work, but also my personal and professional development. My manager is always there to give me guidance and if I ever need any help with ANYTHING, I have that support there for me at all times.

Learning about Microsoft and the industryhas great – but an internship at Microsoft is an important personal learning journey too. I have learnt so much about myself – my strengths, my weaknesses, what I love, what I don’t and where I can go from here. I came to Microsoft with a set of skills I already had with the hope of learning and developing many new ones. I can say with confidence that I have managed to build enormously on skills I already had and have definitely picked up new ones along the way. Working for Microsoft is like working nowhere else; things never stand still and everything can change in seconds. You could be working on something all week and then at the last minute it all needs changing. You learn how to work effectively and successfully in this sort of environment. A placement at Microsoft will dramatically improve your work ethic, time management, organisation and many other skills that are going to be important as you pursue even bigger and better opportunities in the future, with Microsoft or not.

Final thoughts

An internship at Microsoft is an incredible experience and extremely rewarding. At Microsoft, interns have lots of responsibility. We aren’t just shadowing, or supporting more senior staff; we have really important roles that have business impact and really matter to the success of the company. It’s challenging and it is a big leap from university, but it’s totally worth it. If you want it enough, go get it! And if you get to Microsoft, know it really is what you make of it – the opportunities are endless, so go grab them!

Working for Microsoft is awesome. Really awesome. It’s the most incredible professional experience I could have asked for and being part of a company that is literally changing the way we work, play and connect is pretty exciting. There is something for everyone and I couldn’t recommend it more.
I told you I love writing!

Thanks, Zain.

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