Year in Review - Charles Davies
Around 14 months ago, I received a call. A call that unbeknown to me, would dictate potentially the next few years, maybe decades of my life. A call, with an outcome I would never have expected. A call, telling me that not only had I achieved a place on the Microsoft Internship Scheme, but that I had been offered the exact role that I desired. All was great.
Fast forward 2 months and my first day in the office arrived. I had no idea what to expect, or what was expected of me and to be honest I come into the office now and still don’t know what to expect. The first few weeks were a blur. A steep learning curve of processes and products that I never thought I would get my head around. I plodded on and kept my head down, picking up bits of advice along the way, while working hard to get up to speed.
As time went by, things started to make more sense. I was learning new things about marketing, sales and the business as a whole every minute and needless to say it was a lot to take in. They say that it takes around 4 months for, ‘the penny to drop’, and I would say that’s almost exactly right. ‘The penny drops’ in a number of aspects. You begin to learn simple things – email etiquette, meeting etiquette, coffee machine etiquette (always take 2 plastic cups, you will burn your hand if you don’t) and you begin to learn the more complicated things – organisational structure, product features, sales processes.
It’s what you do with this information that will determine your success. You can of course choose to ignore everything and do it your own way or alternatively you can choose to do everything by the book and as you’re told. I truly believe the correct answer lies between the two. You want to play by the rules, that goes without saying, however you want to be able to say, to quote Frank, ‘I did it my way’. No one likes the person who does everything in the correct way, and who’s to say it is the correct way. Microsoft hires Interns to challenge ideas, they want fresh ideas which are going to drive the company into the future. At the same time, don’t go telling the GM you think his strategy is a waste of time. A happy-medium is needed.
The GM, amongst a vast majority of others, are fantastic role models and my biggest take away has been seeing how each of the work. Obviously, you don’t get to sit next to the General Manager of Microsoft UK and I would recommend you don’t ask to do so in your first week (or your last for that matter!), however on the other hand you do get some very senior visibility. This company really does value its interns, and you can use the ‘intern’ badge to pick the brains of more senior people in the business. This exposure really does help you develop as an individual, and any skills or tips you can pick up from them can be extremely beneficial during your intern year and beyond.
As I come to the end of my Intern year, I have to answer the big question. The big question that all interns have been asking themselves all year. ‘Are you going to apply for the MACH (Graduate) Scheme?’ This is heard throughout the year and is ever-increasing as you approach the final few months. The truth is, the MACH scheme is not the be-all-and-end-all, although some (including me!) do begin to think this. Interns tend to invest so much into getting back to Microsoft that they lose sight of the bigger picture. Microsoft is a fantastic company, one that any individual would be lucky to gain a place at, however there are a number of other routes back into Microsoft which need to be considered.
Since I first began my journey with Microsoft 14 months ago, I have learnt huge amounts about marketing, sales, Microsoft itself and business as a whole. Its 14 months that I wouldn’t change for anything. At times it has been rewarding, enjoyable and immersive and at others it has been difficult, stressful and draining. However, it’s been a learning experience every step of the way and I couldn’t recommend it to anyone more. As cliché as it may be, it is what you make of it. I’ve made the most of mine and I feel that I’ve reaped the benefits.
As I handover to my replacement, I look forward to offering my advice and views on the Year in Industry at Microsoft, just like the intern before did for me. However, ultimately, there’s only so much I can tell her. What she gets out of this year is completely down to her. I’m confident that she will be brilliant and fit right into Microsoft, the rest is down to her.