Name: Catherine Angelini
Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela
What is your major? Computer Science
Where did you intern? What did you do there? I interned for Microsoft at its corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington. I worked as a program manager and software engineer with the information protection team of Office 365 Security and Compliance. I worked with Advanced eDiscovery, which is a system that allows enterprises to save approximately $4.5 million annually by allowing them to easily find, organize and review content relevant to a legal case across Office 365.
How did you get your internship? I spoke to a Microsoft recruiter during the ShellHacks hackathon, which FIU’s School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) and Microsoft co-sponsored in fall 2018. A week later, I received an invitation for a phone interview. After the phone interview, I was invited for several in-person interviews at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington. A few days later, I was ecstatic to receive the offer to intern this past summer with Microsoft!
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? The most important thing by far is that you are passionate about what you decide to pursue. After you find your passion, go after all the opportunities you can to dive deep into it. Read books, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, attend workshops, conduct research, network with people, take a class and practice! In the computer science field, most of the learning comes from hands-on projects, as they will put your skills to the test and allow you to encounter new resources or people in the computer science community who want to help you accomplish your goal. As for obtaining an interview and doing well, make sure that you are on LinkedIn, have an up-to-date resume and practice technical questions often. Also, don’t forget to be actively involved in the community by attending hackathons and career fairs, which are very helpful to demonstrate who you really are to recruiters.
What projects did you work on? I worked with two teammates in both the design and production of our project. To find out how to enhance the Advance eDiscovery solution in Office 365 Security and Compliance, I had to meet with customers, obtain feedback and conduct design reviews. This showed us that it was necessary to develop an alternative method that would allow companies to review and analyze their results in a more interactive and visual way. We then proceeded to create a user interface with a dashboard that displays the data that legal or human resources teams need in the form of customizable charts that show the data in an aggregated manner. Hence, it will save them a lot of time and money going forward by simplifying the process of reviewing the countless documents they may have.
How did your internship connect back to your coursework? On the technical side of things, my data structures and programming courses taught me the foundational problem-solving skills and concepts I needed to address the challenges I encountered in my project. I was able to adapt to a new work environment and understand programming languages. As for the management part, I worked in an agile development environment, which involved completing tasks in a very organized and collaborative way. Therefore, the team projects and assignments I’ve worked on involved writing code, which had to coexist with and build-upon my teammates’ work, along with designing the project architecture and presenting, which were all useful skills I had to apply.
What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship? The coolest thing was the work-life balance at Microsoft that allowed me to go on nonstop hikes and adventures. One of the best days was when I hiked Rattlesnake Ledge and then spontaneously decided to drive with some friends to Mount Rainier, Washington’s 14,411-feet tall stratovolcano that is around two hours away from Redmond. Despite not having any winter clothes on me, I could not believe the beauty of driving through the snow-covered mountains and hearing the water running down a waterfall we encountered along the way. It was truly a “winter wonderland” even though it was in the middle of summer!
What did you like most about your experience? I absolutely loved the culture and the values the company upholds. No matter where I was, the people I met showed me through their actions what it was to have a “growth mindset” by always thinking outside the box and embracing challenges. They also continuously encouraged me to ask questions and were always happy to help, showing me what the spirit behind “One Microsoft” is.
What did you learn about yourself? I learned that using technology to solve problems is a true passion of mine. Technology is always changing. As software engineers, we have to constantly learn new languages, frameworks or concepts. It constantly pushes me to venture outside my comfort zone.
How did the position increase your professional confidence? The position showed me that it’s critical to believe in myself. In the professional world, everyone is working together and is there to help you achieve your goals. If you believe that you can and you put in the effort, then nothing can stop you.
How did you expand your professional network? I expanded it in several ways, thanks to Microsoft and my team. I would have lunch with full-time employees and other interns inside or outside my team and attend “brownbags” (bring your own lunch) sessions for Security and Compliance, AMA (Ask Me Anything) talks ranging from the director of windows security to the president of Microsoft U.S., intern events, ice-cream socials and team events. Microsoft also has a program specifically designed to introduce an intern to a full-time employee every week or two, where we would schedule to meet for lunch or coffee to get to learn about what it’s like to be in different teams or positions in Microsoft.
How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” It taught me that there’s no such thing as proving yourself in the real-world. What we have to do is embrace who we are. It’s too easy to spend time comparing ourselves to other people and regretting moments where we made mistakes. When I walked into work, I felt empowered by the fact that I was going to grow and learn even if I wasn’t the most productive or efficient programmer that day. At the end of my internship, when we presented to everyone on security and compliance, including top staff and customers, it overjoyed me to receive positive feedback on the product we developed.
Being in a work environment in which everyone is continuously striving to learn and better themselves made me realize that pushing ourselves to improve is better than looking to prove ourselves to anyone.