This summer, I got the opportunity to intern at Microsoft. I'm going to attempt to cover my experience working here over the course of the summer in a series of blog posts. These will cover my experience as an intern in general, and not as much things that I'm working on, since those are under an NDA and I can't exactly disclose them.
I am creating a cross-platform mobile app using Xamarin for Microsoft Dynamics, the business software side of Microsoft. They are headquartered at the Advanta campus, which is about 15 minutes south of the main campus in Redmond. There are free Microsoft shuttles going between the Advanta campus and main campus every 20 minutes or so, so it is fairly easy to go up to main campus for events and such. Microsoft has many buildings across the Puget Sound area, but most of their employees are on the main campus in Redmond.
There are a LOT of interns here this summer, which was to be expected. There are 1,100 members of our Facebook group, I know that is not all of them, since I've met a few other interns who have not joined the group.
There were three different options for housing when you intern here. You can either stay in an extended-stay hotel, a 2-4 person apartment, or find your own housing. The housing is partially paid by Microsoft, and the rest of the rent comes out of your paycheck. If you choose to find your own housing, you will get a stipend to cover some of the rent.
Interns are scattered between about 10 different apartment complexes throughout the area. Where you get placed for an apartment is dependent on what building you are working at, as well as the transportation option you picked. It seems to me that those with rental cars usually get a worse housing experience compared to those who opted to bike or take busses to work. I kind of wish they put more interns closer together, since it is sometimes difficult to group up with people who live on the complete other side of town.
I chose to get a Microsoft-sponsored apartment with one of my friends from Iowa State. The apartment is about a 15 minute walk or 5 minute bike ride from the Advanta campus. There are about 10-15 other interns scattered throughout our complex.
There were also a few options for transportation. Your first option is that you can bring your own car here, and have Microsoft pay for your gas and travel time to and from Seattle. The other option is that they fly you out to Seattle and back. If you choose to fly, then you can either pay $300/month to get a rental car from Microsoft or they will give you a $1,200 one-time payment for the "bike plan" and you can find your own way around the city for the summer.
I chose to take the bike plan. Driving my car out from Iowa was not something I wanted to do at all, and for 3 months, I thought I could get by with just a bike. It is working fairly well. There is no shortage of other people with cars who can give rides to events and such. The only times so far I've run into issues is if I want to get across the city for something that none of my friends have an interest in going to.
You also get an Orca pass at orientation that gets you free rides on all the city busses in the entire area. There are also free on-demand Microsoft shuttles to get places, as well as Uber or Lyft if it's late at night.
Yes, I get to do actual work on an actual team of full-time employees.
The work life really depends on your manager and mentor. You get assigned a project from your manager that is usually pretty well-defined. A few of my friends, however, didn't really figure out what they were supposed to be doing until a week or two into the internship.
The best thing about it is the hours. Since interns are salaried employees, you don't have to work a specific number of hours per day. They mainly care about if you get your work done in time, and if you make it to the meetings that you are supposed to be at. It seems to me that most full-time employees on my team don't show up till 9am or 10am, but there are some who work 7am-3pm and other who work 1pm-8pm. You are able to work from home if you want, but it's a pretty big hassle to set up VPN access to the corporate network, so most interns don't do that.
My manager doesn't interfere with what I'm doing very often. Every week or so, he'll want an update on how things are coming. Most of my interaction is with my mentor. She has also worked on a project with Xamarin/Visual Studio and is the person I'm supposed to go to if I have any problems or need help. She also has helped me a lot with knowing all the acronyms, as well as who to contact if I need something done.
There are events going on ALL the time. Between events with friends, events put on by the MS Intern Program, as well as events put on by the Intern Social club and by university recruiters, there seems to be always stuff to do.
There are hiking trips each weekend to different spots around the area, ultimate frisbee games, whirlyball, hackathons, league of legends nights, lunch meet-ups, and many other things. There is a massive event thrown in late July called the signature event. The signature event is basically a huge party where they give away tons of free stuff, and also have concerts and other fun things. Also, there are things such as intern puzzle day, intern day of caring, and many others that I can't remember at the time of writing this.
Microsoft doesn't shy away from basically throwing money at us. Here are a few of the perks that come along with the job:
- The pay (you are paid the same as an entry level full-time programmer)
- Prime card (huge discounts at restaurants, attractions, and store across the city, as well as online)
- Company store (huge discounts on Microsoft software and games)
- Orca pass (free bus pass for the summer)
- Signature event (free stuff for everyone. Last summer it was an Xbox one, and before that it was a Surface)
- Seattle area (beautiful area, hiking, night life, etc.)
- Company discounts (25% off Dell, Lenovo, HP, Apple, etc., $20/month unlimited data on Verizon)