Intern Role Profile - Business Operations

Name: Maria Alexandra Ilie

Role: Business Analyst

Department: Services Centre

Location: TVP, Reading

Hey readers of the Be Your Future blog! I study Global Economics and Management at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany. Students at my university don’t usually take gap years, so I was initially looking for an 8-week internship. However, I really wanted to apply to Microsoft and they were offering one-year internships, so I decided to go for it: the more work experience before graduating, the better! I chose Microsoft for two reasons. One, it sounded perfect on paper, from its innovative products to its corporate social responsibility programmes. Secondly, everyone I knew who worked for Microsoft couldn’t stop talking about it. I had never seen employees from elsewhere talk as passionately about their work as Microsoft employees did, so I thought there has to be something special about the place.

Application Process for my role

My application started in a pretty standard way: an online application. You get to choose a stream and answer questions about yourself and why you want to join the company. A nice addition to the classic questions was a personality test, which checks if you’d fit the company culture. After that I had a video interview, which was probably the most awkward step, as I felt like I was talking to myself (it was a set of pre-recorded questions that I had to record myself answering). The next step was a Skype interview with someone in the recruiting team, and after that I went to the assessment centre in Reading. On the day of the assessment centre, you get a combination of group and individual activities, depending on your chosen role.
The most challenging thing about the process was the fact that your personality is assessed alongside your aptitude. You have to stay focused and be prepared for all the technical questions, but you also have to keep your calm and show them who you are. Everyone at Microsoft is friendly, talented and likes a challenge, and the assessors also want to see if you would fit it.
I think there are 2 things that everyone needs to do before and during the application: research the company thoroughly (in the news, about its products, what challenges are its customers facing, what is the company strategy etc.) and showcase your true personality.

My Role

I work in the UK Services Centre team. We look at what internal processes and services that Microsoft performs can be improved and transformed in order to make the business more time and cost efficient. Be it transforming a process into a one-to-many type service, outsourcing it to another subsidiary where it can be done more efficiently or simply optimizing a process, everything we do has to be justified by an improved delivery margin.
It’s a very challenging role as it’s constantly changing and you need to stay focused in identifying new opportunities to grow the scope of the department. It’s a perfect job for someone who likes a lot of change and is very organized.
Our department is constantly evolving, so no two days are ever the same, but that also means you get a lot of freedom over grabbing opportunities to make an impact on the business. I think that’s true about all the intern roles: it is what you make it. You can just do what is absolutely necessary, or you can go out and see where you can make the most impact.
Before I started, I wanted to know as much as possible about how the year is going to be, but nobody can give you an exact answer on that. You have so much to say in what this year will be like, from the 101 team you choose to the mentors you find, that it’s pointless to compare your year to anyone else’s. My only advice would be to be very proactive about it: it passes very quickly and you will discover that there are a lot of things that you’ll want to get involved in.

My experience so far

Before I started my internship, I’d heard of the term “company culture” but I didn’t put much importance on it: I thought it was more of a branding thing. However, now I think it’s one of the most important things that influence a workplace. At Microsoft everyone is extremely friendly and helpful. It doesn’t matter if it’s asking for someone from another department to help us with a project or asking for advice or mentoring, if someone here can’t help you, they will find someone who can. That kind of mentality really helps the business as well as its employees. Other unique things about the Microsoft culture are the growth mentality that enables us to always think about progress and not be afraid to fail fast and recover from it, and the fact that we’re not afraid of challenges, which lets us take on projects other companies could only dream about.
As an intern, you’re also in a great position to think about your career. You get insight into what it’s like to work within your department, but you can also branch out and shadow in others.
Finally, the most valuable thing about my year so far is that, as a Microsoft employee, you are actively encouraged to be proactive about your career and personal development in general. This growth mind-set that you acquire, combined with the great environment that empowers you to achieve your goals, is worth more than any name on your CV or recommendation letter you might get elsewhere.

My #1 Tip for making the most out of your internship

Think about your impact: is what you’re doing now the most useful thing you could be doing right now?

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