Role Insight: Business Operations Intern - by George Grant
It is almost a year to the day that the seeds of applying for the Microsoft Internship programme were planted. I was attending a Windows Student Ambassador training day at the London offices, where I met couple of people – one an intern at the time and another, an ex-intern, that spoke so highly of the scheme that I just had to look into it.
Whilst my story has already begun, I must admit that my journey to Microsoft is not the most ordinary of routes. I wasn’t looking for a compulsory placement as part of my degree, nor was my degree directly relevant to Microsoft (in a business or technical sense). I was in my 3rd year of a 4 year MSci Marine Biology degree at the University of Southampton and I was a Windows 8 Student Ambassador. This gave me a real taste of Microsoft and I was intrigued by almost everything –the offices, the culture and whether I could even fit into the business with my degree! I was extremely indecisive and got my application in at the deadline in January (something I don’t recommend anyone reading this does!) and the anxious period of sitting and waiting began. Microsoft was one of my only internship applications I made, and the wait felt like a lifetime. I must have waited about 6 weeks for my first response;the email inviting you to do the Psychometric tests. Don’t worry, they are nowhere near as scary as they sound. From here, everything moved so quickly; I had my telephone interview within the week and then within a fortnight I was driving to my assessment centre! The rest, as they say, is history.
My role within Microsoft is as a Business Operations Intern in the Public Sector Sales Excellence team, quite a mouthful isn’t it? As with most of your job titles, you won’t fully understand what it means until 2-3 weeks into the role. One part of it I did understand was Public Sector. I never appreciated how much Microsoft did for Public Sector and how much IT has an impact on every area of our lives. The Microsoft Public Sector business is split into 5 main areas; Education, Health, Central Government, Local and Regional Government and Public Safety and National Security. The Sales Excellence team is the team that helps coordinate all of these areas and ensure a smooth operation of the public sector business. Common tasks of mine include daily revenue reporting, data analysis, assisting account managers and assessing the satisfaction of customers through surveys. The Public Sector business is so broad that I haven’t stopped learning or meeting new people, despite beingfour months in! That might sound daunting but I have enjoyed every moment of it. One of the best things about my role is being in contact with so many different people, you can always learn something new from someone and there is always someone to ask if you are having trouble.
There are internship opportunities all over the UK; in London, Guildford and Edinburgh to name a few. I am based in Reading but I can assure you wherever you are placed you will have an amazing year. Life in Reading is great. There are plenty of things to do outside work; cinema, bowling and if all else fails, you are less than half an hour’s train away from London! Microsoft has a great intern community and it really helps you settle in quickly. You’ll always be in contact with interns, whether it’s the guys you are living with or working with them on projects. Work isn’t just about interns however, all of your colleagues will help you settle in and during your first few months everyone will be open to helping you out should you have any questions. No question is too silly when you first start, even during the interviews or assessment centres, don’t be afraid to ask any questions. It will not only show you are interested in what is happening at the company but also that you are wanting to learn, which is important here.
Working at Microsoft is so flexible and as an intern, you will have a huge amount of opportunities outside of your job role. I have been out to the Campus Party at the O2 and the Surface 2 launch, with more exciting events in the pipeline. Other interns have been involved in the Gadget Show Live, Eurogamer and the upcoming Xbox One launch. If you are interested in any event that Microsoft is part of, you probably have a chance to get involved and help out!
I hope I have given a good taste of life as an intern here and if you have made it this far; a last bit of advice for the application process? The application, is not just about your grades and experiences, it’s about you! Don’t be afraid to apply if your degree isn’t directly relevant. If you have the aptitude, Microsoft will want you! Make sure you show your personality through your application. If you get through to interviews or the assessment centre, just think of them as informal conversations –the more relaxed you can make the interviews, the more you will show off your personality. That’s the final element managers are assessing. Best of luck during the application process and I look forward to meeting some of you at the assessment centres :)