2020 has been an interesting year for everyone, without a doubt. For me, 2020 involved a career change that wasn’t something I was expecting at the start of the year. I had been comfortable with my past employer, Magnet Forensics, for just shy of 8 years and had the opportunity to work on many high-impact projects as part of a mission to help save children and assist law enforcement. But at the end of August, I started my first day in my next adventure with Microsoft.
I wanted to write a couple of posts about getting up and running at Microsoft so I figured I’d start with some high-level points. This post will be focused on what it was like to join a tech giant after helping scale a startup to hundreds of people internationally.
Meeting the Team and Colleagues
My hiring manager at Microsoft had a list of people he thought would be great for me to reach out to. Forerunners would be the team I’ll be managing and then connections for different functions I would be interfacing with. As well, the list included complimentary teams we’d be working with. Coming from a place where I had the luxury of being around since the beginning of the engineering department, it was a new experience for me to be the outsider… However, this list of initial connections was a great way for me to get oriented.
And well if you didn’t know… Microsoft is big. Really big. So this was an extremely intimidating experience for me. But as soon as I logged into Microsoft Teams I got a message from one of the engineering managers that interviewed me. And I mean literally, as soon as I logged in because I didn’t even know where the notification sound came from! It was an incredibly welcoming message that stuck out to me because this reinforced that I wasn’t just a number in the hiring process to fill a seat. Shortly after, I received a message from an old university friend on Microsoft Teams that was congratulating me on my new role and welcoming me to Microsoft. I could feel the tension easing up as I felt like I had some great connections already.
So I started sending out emails to introduce myself and of course, it felt awkward saying “Hi I’m the new guy… I know you’re super busy but can you set aside some time so I can get to know a bit more about you and how we’ll interact?” But you know what? Every single person was enthusiastic to welcome me and get something put on our calendar to chat further. Every. Single. One. I haven’t felt so welcomed before. Just another big tech stereotype that I had demystified for myself and I couldn’t be happier about it as I started my first day.
Microsoft: Consistent Values
Having not worked for a “big tech company” before, I think that like many people who have lived startup and small business life, I made a lot of assumptions about what things might be like. After all, Microsoft has been around since… forever! I’ve been using Windows and Microsoft products since I was physically able to use a computer (which if you took a wild guess was at a very early age). We all know big tech companies only have small pockets of really awesome people… and everything is super corporate with a million layers of bureaucracy… And everything feels like a battle against “the system” just so you can get your opinion heard and….
Okay, so none of that was even remotely close to true. It was VERY obvious from day one that through *all* levels there is a homogeneous mission and vision. When the CEO talks about diversity and inclusion and then you see it coming up in the training, and coming up from different levels of leadership, and then directly in your conversations with peers ALL within the first couple of days… You know Microsoft has done something right to nail culture.
This is simply one example that I’m using that I feel would probably hit home with many of us, and I share it because while I could speculate that big corporations might just say they want to focus on this kind of thing in a media or press release, I was shocked (in a positive way) just how much emphasis is put into something that the company believes is a priority. Especially at the scale of the organization. These company-wide goals to focus on certain areas penetrate all levels of the organization in such a way that you don’t feel “forced” into it, but rather you feel empowered and motivated to be part of the solution and have an influence in it.
I think that everything I had hoped was true from my initial talks with the recruiter right through to the interview with the team was proven to be true right from my starting day at Microsoft. My fears of big tech bureaucracy and stagnated perspectives of a behemoth company (and actually more on this to come!) were shut down right away. All of this was such reassuring news as I was getting set up.
While switching companies in tech might not feel like a big deal to some people, for me this has been a completely different life path, and as I mentioned at the start it wasn’t one that I could have easily envisioned for myself. In my previous role, I was challenged. I had responsibilities and expertise. I was part of an incredibly important mission. I have managed teams of people I loved working with and had colleagues I’d consider to be some of my best friends.
But I was also comfortable. On that note, I’ll be discussing why I believe that Microsoft is the perfect opportunity for me to challenge myself and take on a growth mindset.
These are products & services that I trust, use, and love. I get a kickback if you decide to use my links. There’s no pressure, but I only promote things that I like to use!
- RackNerd: Cheap VPS hosting options that I love for low-resource usage!
- Contabo: Alternative VPS hosting options with very affordable prices!
- ConvertKit: This is the platform that I use for my newsletter!
- SparkLoop: This service helps me add different value to my newsletter!
- Opus Clip: This is what I use for help creating my short-form videos!
- Newegg: For all sorts of computer components!
- Bulk Supplements: For an enormous selection of health supplements!
Quora: I try to answer questions on Quora when folks request them of me!