Microsoft – Week 1

I’m tying into my blog to provide weekly updates of my experience here at Microsoft. This post will serve as an introduction to both me and the internship program; some of this may seem a little redundant if you’ve already read my About page.

Hey there! I’m Aidan Brady, and this here is my first blog post as a Microsoft intern. I’ll be working under the “Developer Experiences” (or DX) team which encompasses development partners, education, and platform evangelism in general. I’m writing this post just so soon not because I don’t have anything to do, but rather because so much has already happened and I don’t want to lose track of it all!

A little bit about me: I’m 17 years old, a rising senior in high school, and an almost-11-year resident of Atlanta, GA (where it is currently near 100 degrees, thank goodness I’m here in Redmond). I’ve had an interest in computers for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been doing serious programming for close to seven years now. I’ve dabbled in Python, Swift and C++, but Java is definitely my specialty; alongside my most popular project, Mekanism, I’ve developed countless Java-based applications that I still maintain.

Outside of the tech world, I play piano, tennis (even though I’m one of the worst tennis players I know), love to run with either my music or my friends, and am known to spend quite a few hours at a time watching various shows on Netflix. Speaking of which, if you don’t watch Mad Men, you really should.

I arrived here in Seattle this past Saturday and am staying just across the street from the Microsoft campus at an “Extended Day America,” where I am accompanied by my parents due to what I assume are child labor restrictions. On the start of day one, I still didn’t quite believe I was actually going to be working for Microsoft, and I honestly still don’t. Every employee I talked to was welcoming and more than happy to answer my silly questions (“Where’s the restroom?” “Is the coffee free?” “How exactly do I get out of this building?”) – that includes the college interns who I work alongside in my shared office space. And yes, by the way, the coffee just so happens to be free!

Unlike some internships, there was really no “lazy warm-up period” – right after lunch orientation I was assigned my office and computer and briefed on how my next seven weeks would look. I spent the rest of the day filling up my computer with some shiny new Windows betas, including fancy copies of Visual Studio Enterprise 2015 and Office 2016 which managed to download in minutes thanks to the company network’s gigabit internet. And just like that, I finished my first eight-hour workday at Microsoft. I was in heaven.

Day 2 consisted of me finishing my computer’s setup, grabbing lunch with my intern co-workers, talking with my mentor and attending my first real meeting (woo!). I also found myself already habitually checking Outlook for new emails, and discovered that my calendar was rapidly filling up with company events. As I downed my sixth cup of coffee in my shiny new Microsoft mug, I was feeling like a true employee.

The third day was quite a bit more busy. After doing a bit of work on one of my programming projects in the morning, I took a 30 minute 8:45 shuttle to Redmond Town Center (RTC) where I met with Briana Roberts from the Learning Experiences team, a group within the larger DX organization, that is likely to take a good bit of my time throughout the rest of my internship. After a short meeting, I learned that aside from writing up these blog posts, I’m going to appear in weekly video blogs, work with the Harvard-hosted CS50 event, as well as serve as a judge during for Imagine Cup – and these are just the projects I remember off-hand. I hope I have a chance to work with the Minecraft team, too!

And here I am at the end of my fourth day! I had to get started a bit earlier to be able to hop on a shuttle to the CS50 Bootcamp, but that wasn’t too hard now that I’m getting adjusted to the three-hour time change. I didn’t exactly know my role when I first got there so I got myself some of the free catered breakfast (really good) and took a seat – the actual event started about 20 minutes later. After David Malan, the star of CS50, finished his speech, the attending teachers all filed into another room where tables were set up for different groups – the goal was to come up with a curriculum to teach students the basics of computer programming. Without clear instruction of what I was supposed to do, I decided to just take a seat at one of the tables and help a group with their lesson plan. I realized that I actually could contribute a lot to the conversation, being a student myself! After an insightful discussion on the issues with a typical course-based computer science education, we came up with a plan that involved a more individualized approach to programming, with students following their own projects that interest them and learning various concepts along the way – kind of like the way I learned. Little did I know that the outcome of this planning, however, was to actually teach it – David had a big group of students come into the room, and we all were paired up to have real one-on-one computer science instruction sessions. And that is how, on day four of my Microsoft internship, I became a computer science teacher.

My time here is definitely going to be busy, but it’s by all means going to be fun, and the experiences and connections I will make I’m sure I will take with me far past college. I have a new-found appreciation and respect for Microsoft, too.

Oh!  The Microsoft Learning Experiences is starting a weekly video series of some of us LeX interns, and I happen to be one of them. I’ll attach each video to its corresponding blog post, including this one!

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