Achievement Unlocked: Microsoft Internship Completed

Yesterday marked the end of my internship at Microsoft as a Multinational Account Manager for Microsoft Advertising. Over the last year and 3 months I have been fortunate enough to work with high profile clients across EMEA, APAC, US and Latin America. Microsoft has refined me professionally and has positively impacted me personally. I could not have hoped for a better internship.

What Next?
In the next 2 weeks I will be returning to Cheltenham to complete degree in Public Relations at the University of Gloucestershire. It will be refreshing to return once more to the University way of life, meet all the new students, old friends and complete a 10,000 word dissertation. Can’t wait to attend Cheltenham Social Media Café and Cheltenham DigiTalks again!

Microsoft has fundamentally adjusted the way in which I approach work and has further improved my understanding of the digital industry. I will miss all my colleagues at Microsoft. Despite studying and partying once back at University I also be continuously looking for job opportunities for when I graduate June 2012.

 

For now though 2 weeks of relaxation…

Young Britain Works: Positive Outcome!

Back in April I mentioned the Young Britain Works project set up by Microsoft to assist 16 – 24 year olds find a job during the recession. This is a project which has involved current Microsoft UK interns who have assisted with a number of activities. The Britain Works Facebook page has grown considerably since the project began.

 

Young Britain Works Facebook Page

Activities have not just been confined to social media activity, a number of efforts have gone into real world events. One of these was a fortnight of different seminars and activities which were held at the Microsoft UK offices to arm young job seekers with advice, knowledge and skills to tackle the job market.

During these events I gave a talk on how to use Social Media to get a job and branding yourself online, aptly titled “What would I do if I started from nothing in 2011?”. Many interns were involved with this project, many taking far bigger roles than I and today the feedback from the event was shared.

Out of the 92 who attended 16 people managed to secure a full time employment and 19 have gone into work placements/volunteering/apprenticeships/training. In total 35 recorded positive outcomes. In my opinion it is a testament to the advice given by all the speakers during the fortnight and the management by other Microsoft Interns.

My favourite piece of feedback is:

“Just wanted to let you know I started work today – I have a 3 month contract in HR Administration with GSMA with a very strong chance the role may be extended beyond 3 months! I’m absolutely thrilled, I can finally get back in to the swing of things 🙂 Plus finding a permanent job should be easier now as I’ll have HR admin experience on my CV. I just wanted to thank you for all the effort you and the others put in to the week at Microsoft – since then I’ve had much more interest in my CV and far fewer concerns that I might not be well enough to manage work. But most importantly the week gave me my self-confidence back – I’ve been able to leave my previous bad experience at work behind and hold my head high which is great!”

This piece of news has brightened my day. My thanks especially goes to fellow Microsoft Intern, Adam Jackson, for putting the programme of events together. His 7am starts certainly paid off!

 

Microsoft UK Launches Intern & Graduate Blog

As of the beginning of this month Microsoft launched their official UK intern and graduate blog Be Your Future. The project is being managed by a current intern called Lillian Hiscox and will be updated daily-ish with new content.

The main aim of the blog is to show prospective Microsoft interns and graduates what it is like working for Microsoft and the lifestyle which comes with it. Already from the posts featured on the blog it is clear of the variety of roles available and the excitement which comes with working for this technological giant.

I have agreed to contribute a blog post each Monday to Be Your Future (a couple of my posts already appear on the site). Plus I will be providing my blogging recommendations to the team as time goes on.

Getting involved with corporate blogging is new to me and I am eager to see how Be Your Future develops.

Please read, comment, subscribe and recommend. 🙂

 

Microsoft’s “Young Britain Works” Wins EMEA 2011 PR Award

 

Young Britain Works Facebook Page

Yesterday I was delighted to find out that the Microsoft Young Britain Works citizen project has been awarded a bronze medal in the 2011 Microsoft EMEA PR awards! A huge achievement for the project but the real thanks goes to those Microsoft Interns who have managed to dedicate a large part of their daily roles making sure the project runs smoothly.

I mentioned Young Britain Works, the Microsoft Citizen Project I had become involved with, for the first time in November. Young Britain Works is part of the Microsoft Britain Works pledge to assist 500,000 people in the world of work by 2012 but instead focuses on a new audience, a younger audience.

Young Britain Works is largely driven by a group of Microsoft UK Interns who have used Social Media methods to provide advice to young people surrounding career choices and skills. The main communication point of this project is to use Facebook to drive engagement. However the project has also been using other social marketing methods.

 

How can you help the project?
It sounds trivial but please ‘Like’ the Young Britain Works Facebook Page. More importantly please recommend the Facebook page to any relevant people you know.

This is still a project in its infancy and so any help possible would be much appreciated.

 

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yushimoto_02/4019490308/
© yushimoto_02

The alarm goes off: 6:30am

(Gaze at the ceiling, find the effort to get out of bed)

I get dressed for work: 7:00am

(Casual or Professional dress?)

I leave the house: 7:30am

(Listen to music whilst walking)

I catch the train: 8:00am

(Read a book/Listen to music)

I arrive in London: 8:55am

(Coffee!)

I start work: 9am

(I do different stuff here)

I finish work: 5:30pm

I catch the train home: 6pm

(Read a book/Listen to music)

I arrive in town: 6:45pm

(Listen to music)

I walk through the door: 7:15pm

(Have a beer)

I eat: 7:30pm

(Have a beer)

I play guitar: 8pm

(Have a beer)

I read a book: 10:30pm

I go to sleep: 11:30pm

The times may change, the routine may change but on the whole the above is the bedrock of a fulltime job. It takes getting used to, many need time to adjust but it can get repetitive. The trick is to not focus on the routine but the stuff in-between. Make the day varied, keep life interesting and if you get bored… find a new job.

 

Hangovers as a Sense of Duty: Alcohol & Networking

I’ve been working for Microsoft as an intern for roughly 9 months. The first 4 months was spent learning about the Multinational Advertising Network and from October 2010 I became a Multinational Account Manager for the Microsoft Media Network. At times the job can be very demanding and I can honestly profess that I learn something new each day in this role – it is full on. As far as internships go though, excellent.

Although the most valuable thing I take away from this internship should not be the monthly pay checks but instead knowledge, skills and experiences. Somehow I have found myself at Microsoft, a company who only employs the best of the best (apologies for the cliché phrase). So as I near my contract’s end I have made it my duty to start expanding outside of my own team and network with other employees within the company.

Networking is key. A successful networker doesn’t necessarily need to worry about degrees as they have built up a reputation amongst others. After all, isn’t an interview simply a way for a boss to meet you? I want to reapply to Microsoft’s Graduate programme. How brilliant it would be if I already knew the boss who did my interview? Filling that little black book full of contacts is how people stay alive in business.

There is no better way to network than at a party. I’m not going to shy around the subject, sometimes working in an office is the last thing I want to do. It is far too focused and quiet when one’s mood is high. Most people when sat at their desks aren’t displaying their true character but instead a strange professionalism which the world has become so accustomed to. To truly network you need a pub (clubbing is simply too noisy for conversation) and the ability to forget the people you are chatting to might be your next boss.

In an interview the last thing you should be is shy or nervous; it will whittle your character down into a fake stuttering nerd. Instead present yourself graciously and comfortably, be who you are. I admit, easy to write but much harder to do in reality. The beauty of networking in a pub is that eventually alcohol will assist with the talking. Yes, I am advocating the use of alcohol as a sensible business networking method. There was a reason Jesus decided to turn water into wine at the party…

Just promise me that if you heed my advice and arrange networking in a pub that you will keep the alcohol quantity to the same level as the person you are drinking with? Imitation is powerful. Say if I was having a drink with the head of PR at Microsoft, I would aim to keep my drinking at the same level as that individual. To be honest most people do this anyway in a one to one situation, it is polite.

Last night I attended an after work leaving party as several colleagues move onto different roles outside of Microsoft (now preparing myself for the welcome party which will inevitably arrive!). In the space of 5 ½ hours I spoke to more people at Microsoft than I had done in the last 9 months of my internship. People in the company want interns to succeed. The older, humble and wise will confess that my generation will inevitably be the generation which keeps Microsoft going. Rarely can one see their own strengths but I know there are a handful of interns I’ve spotted who should stay at Microsoft, not for their sake but for Microsoft’s sake. The company cannot afford to lose such dedicated, talented and skilled individuals.

So this afternoon I embrace the brunt of a hangover which on the outside may look like mere gluttony. Instead I know that last night wasn’t just a leaving party, it was a business opportunity to network. Many remarkable people work for Microsoft and I had the pleasure of sharing a few drinks with them – priceless.

(For the record networking doesn’t always involve alcohol. Another effective networking method is to arrange 30min coffees during the day with professionals. Use this time to learn about them, make sure they do 70% of the talking.)

1 Pound 4 Ounces of Microsoft

1 Pound marks the course of one year for some of my Microsoft colleagues. It simply describes the hypothetical amount of weight one has gained by working in the office for 12 months. Working in the metropolis has its temptations of fast-food outlets, fancy restaurants and the usual grub found in the canteen which burdens the stomach with an extra load when the majority of your job requires being deskbound. There is no doubt about it, since starting my internship at Microsoft I certainly feel a little rounder. Not so much around the belly or thighs but rather the face – recently the checks have been looking far rosier, an uncanny resemblance to my other pair of checks after a good botty beating.

Yet the scales better prepare themselves for a few more ounces as I have finally received the news that my Microsoft contract has been extended! Originally I was preparing myself for corporate heartbreak at the beginning of June as that was the original end date of my internship (ie, contract cancellation). I suppose my main fear of my internship ending has been down to my love for Microsoft. No, I’m not writing this encase a colleague stumbles across this blog, I actually mean what I say I love Microsoft. This doesn’t make me an Apple or Google hater, it simply means I think Microsoft is brilliant and has its place in the technological arena and I would love to work within this corporate giant for as long as possible.

My contract has been happily extended until the 2nd September. By which time I shall immediately be travelling back to Cheltenham to complete my final year of Public Relations at the University of Gloucestershire. I can’t even conceive going back to University in some ways. Whilst having my independence back again would be great (not that I have lost much living at home during my internship), the feel of working for Microsoft each day is a feeling I’m going to find hard to forget. It is the number 1 and if, at the end of my extended internship, I find myself never working for Microsoft, then going into any other job might be difficult. Yet, time is a healer. Who knows what waits around the corner?

So here ends my happy news. A requirement from my University during this internship year is to regularly write blog posts or diary entries explaining my progress at the company so far, something which I have admittedly disregarded. I shall make an effort to do this more often, although it is time which presses upon me, not a lack of motivation.

6 Pieces of Advice to find an Internship

This time last year I was frantically putting together my CV and dreaming about the various companies I would actually want to work for. I concluded that my ideal situation would be working for Google, Microsoft or IBM – I managed to get an internship at Microsoft. Here are some of my tips to help you find a placement.

Network with Friends and Family

Start here first. Find out if any of your friends or family have contacts in the industry you would you like to have a placement in. My uncle works for a large advertising agency in London and through him I was able to find some contacts (although I didn’t need them in the end).

Use University Databases

Most Universities keep placement databases to help their students find placements. Well-designed databases will allow you to search specifically for jobs by certain type. Fortunately the University of Gloucestershire’s database held many Public Relations and Marketing jobs. If you can’t find a job you wish to apply for on your University’s database, check out other University websites. I discovered that some Universities do not password protect their placement databases – search around.

Visit Company Websites

Some companies deliberately avoid University databases because they either get a high number of applications or prefer students search find them. Find businesses you love. Even better, find businesses in your local area. You might be surprises with what you find.

Network Online

Keep an eye on Twitter, conduct searches for placements. Some users regularly tweet about placement opportunities. You can use LinkedIn to network with professionals. Get in contact with people. There is no harm in asking – offer yourself by promoting your skillset.

Send Letters / Pick up the Phone

Emails aren’t always the best method of communication. You will find employees and managers are likely to receive hundreds of emails each day. Stand out from the crowd by sending a letter or by phoning up. Both of these communication methods are far more direct – even personal.

CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) Placement Database

The CIPR maintains a work placement database. You can visit it here.

Good luck!

How is your placement search going?

Do you have advice to offer?