Name: Giuliana Avogadro
Hometown: Mendoza, Argentina
What is your major? B.S., Computer Science
Where did you intern? Microsoft in Bellevue, Washington
What did you do there? The internship I applied for was the “Explore Internship,” which is a summer program that provides the opportunity to be part of the main phases of product development. I worked on the Bing team, more specifically the Bing Answers Team. This team specializes in creating new answers for popular searches and monitoring the already established answers like weather, dictionary, sport results, music lyrics etc. I was part of the dictionary subdivision.
How did you get your internship? By attending an FIU CS career fair and speaking to the recruiters at the Microsoft booth, I got a behavioral phone interview. After passing this stage, I traveled to Seattle for three in-person interviews, all a mix of behavioral and technical skills in my case.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Don’t let interview results affect how competent you feel as a programmer. Interviews don’t reflect how good of a programmer you are or will be; there are many outside factors that can affect its outcome. I was actually rejected after the final rounds of interviews at Microsoft. I got a call much later offering me a spot that had been freed up. I had obviously doubted my abilities a lot after facing this rejection and even going into the rotation, I was feeling like I must not be as good as the rest of the interns. At the end of the rotation, I was given a return offer, which I accepted, and was told by my supervisor that they had gotten lucky in getting me at such short notice.
What projects did you work on? I worked on creating a word of the day answer for the Bing search engine, which has since launched. I was tasked with creating the entire feature from scratch. This included defining specifications, mocking designs, data modeling, implementing back-end and front-end.
How did your internship connect back to your coursework? The general essentials were proficiency in either Java, C++ or C# and understanding of data structures. I found that having a basic understanding of databases, APIs, event handling and front end development- HTML/CSS- helpful for the specific work that I was doing. A lot of development will be done using Microsoft-specific tools or code that you are not expected to know how to use right away.
What did you like most about your experience? The interesting people I got to meet and work with, and experiencing what it’s like to love your job. I was eager to come to work every day because I was passionate about the work I was given and excited to see my coworkers who quickly became my friends. There are also free beverages like soda, coconut water, sparkling water, infused water, tea and coffee on every floor, which doesn’t hurt.
What have you learned about yourself? I always thought as myself as not very assertive. I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone in this aspect because I was expected to be the owner of my project and present myself as such to other coworkers. Most Explore interns do a project with two other interns, but I was alone on mine and so I couldn’t rely on them at meetings, when pitching my feature or when presenting. My project required interacting with people from other teams and other fields of work and trying to convince them that the way I had designed my feature was the best way. These interactions taught me how to be assertive when it comes to things that I value and how to compromise on lesser things.
How did you expand your professional network? I got a range of perspectives from people who were established at the company, to newcomers, to interns who may be future coworkers or go on to work at other companies. Microsoft enables this by hosting talks, workshops, hackathons and by having a program that sets up weekly lunches with full-time employees.
How did it help you prove yourself in the real world? I got to create something that can be seen by anyone who wishes to and that is placed alongside the work of developers I have so much respect for. It is incredibly satisfying to see all my hard work pay off.