My Week at Microsoft – By Callum Beeks

Before my work experience at Microsoft, I had limited ideas about what goes on within the office - my few views on office life were created through stereotyping. However, the reality is far from the stereotype – the Microsoft offices are filled with a variety of rooms, from the masses of offices to the Microsoft Experience Zone (the CCG area), which is occupied by a variety of tech, including Xbox Ones, and gaming laptops! There was even a Minecraft-themed room! 

On Monday, I was both excited and nervous as I came into reception and was blown away by how spacious and modern the buildings were. Once I’d arrived, I was told to wait for Sean Phelps, who was in charge of me during my time at Microsoft. So I sat down on one of the sofas available and waited. Once Sean had arrived he took me on a tour around the offices, finishing off in the office I was going to be based in for the rest of the week. From there, Sean showed me some cool features of Windows 10, ranging from the ‘Macros’ tool in MS Word to the 3D Maps program. After this, I had a 2:1 meeting with Sean and Georgie Bartley about the role that she plays in the company.

After lunch, it was time to have a meeting with my employer for work experience – Katrina Borthwick. During this meeting, we discussed my future plans (regarding apprenticeships or A-levels) and other things. Next, I had a 1:1 meeting with James Cole, who works up on the top floor of Building 2. We spoke to a variety of people, whom I had the opportunity to ask for advice about post-GCSE life. We also made our way up to the CCG area and spoke about what life was like in Microsoft. Directly after that meeting, I had a LOOP meeting, which consisted of an explanation of what LOOP is and the basic rundown on the program’s progress so far.

For me, Tuesday was a lot quieter than Monday – I only had 2 meetings throughout the day! In the morning, I had a meeting for MS Excel Training about the MOS (Microsoft Office Specialists) tests, which helped me learn more uses for Excel and see how an example of preparation for the tests. The meeting also improved on my knowledge of apprenticeships with Microsoft regarding the type of tests they take.

In the afternoon, I participated in a coding session, run by Jacob McQuillan. During this session, I was tasked with creating a working simple calculator using the C# programming language in Visual Studio 2015. I eventually managed to create a calculator that worked… sort of. Although the inputs of the user and the outputs of the calculator worked, the arithmetic wasn’t great! For example, if you typed in 10/2 into a regular calculator, the calculator would output 5 – however, if you typed in 10/2 on my calculator it would output an answer of 1!

Then Wednesday rolled around, with it being halfway through my work experience at Microsoft – so far I was having a great time! During the morning, I had no meetings so I spent my time refining my skills on C# and trying to make the calculator work (without success though… ). In the afternoon, I had a meeting with Harry Collin and it was in the CCG area. We spoke about the application process for apprenticeships at Microsoft and how he got into Microsoft. After this, we played the Xbox Ones available until my next 1-1 arrived.

My next meeting was with Soneil Gonez and was about ‘Employee Insights’. We spoke about code and the languages we knew. Soneil mentioned that when he joined Microsoft, he didn’t know C# - so he used www.codecademy.com to help learn different programming languages. He also recommended a site called www.github.com, where you can upload your code to the internet and access it at any time.

When it was time for my meeting with Harry Light, I made my way back to CCG area. During the meeting, he filled in the gaps for me about applying for an apprenticeship at Microsoft. He told me about a useful site called www.notgoingtouni.com where you can find and apply to apprenticeships all over the country.

I had another relatively quiet day on Thursday, as during the morning I worked on my JavaScript skills until lunch. After a fearsome rematch of table tennis, it was time for my meeting – a 1:1 MicroBit session with Sean. During this 1:1, I used the MicroBit homepage (www.microbit.co.uk) to create my code. There were several languages available to code in, including JavaScript. Python and a specialised language used when the developers are new to programming called the Microsoft Block Editor. I started off using the Block Editor (which has a similar layout to Scratch), eventually progressing to using Python.The MicroBit can be programmed to do many different things. For example, you can program it to pick up certain inputs – such as shaking the MicroBit itself – and respond with certain outputs – such as lighting up specific LEDs.

On Friday (my last day on work experience ), I spent the morning continuing with my Python course and writing up this article. My final 1:1 session was with Joe Hardie and was about the apprenticeship scheme here at Microsoft. Unlike most of the people who I have spoken to at Microsoft, Joe joined at 16. He told me more about joining Microsoft and his role within the company.

So how was my experience working for Microsoft? I truly enjoyed it and I recommend anyone who eventually wants to work in a tech company to try to get at least a week’s worth of work experience at Microsoft – although I will say, however, have a look at the events that you can help out at and try to get your week in then, as it will help you in the long run! 

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