I just finished my internship with Microsoft and I wanted to share some pro tips while they’re still fresh on my mind. Some background information: I was a SDE Intern with OneDrive and I did receive a full time offer for after graduation.
Start dates: your lucky number is three
Chose the third start date if you can. I started on the first possible day and it was too early. There weren’t many interns on campus yet and it took me until around week four to make some solid friendships. All of my friends were still around for a few weeks when I left and there were still official programs being put on by the MS intern program.
You gotta deliver!
Hit the ground running with your project. Stay late if you have to; don’t leave after eight hours for the simple fact that you’ve been working for eight hours. The intern program is full of fun and games but the bottom line is that you have to deliver on your project. I’ve heard rumors that your midterm review will make or break you. I can pretty much confirm these rumors after my experience this summer.
With the super flexible work hours Microsoft has, it’s easy to get distracted. All managers are different but my officemate and I were afforded the freedom to arrive and leave when we pleased as long as we were in attendance for any required meetings (typically that was only our daily scrum at 11am).
My officemate would come late and leave early for the first couple weeks and this really set him back in the long run. While he had the freedom to do this, he wasn’t getting done what he needed to. At his midterm review our manager told him he was a few weeks behind. He really kicked into gear after this and devoted a lot more time to his project; often staying nine or ten hours a day. This wasn’t enough. Lost development time is rarely ever reclaimed. In the short twelve weeks you have for your internship, you can’t afford to lose any time. Although his work ethic was commendable it wasn’t enough to convince our manager and he didn’t get a return offer.
Hit the ground running with your project, it’s better to finish early than be behind.
Do you like free stuff?
Do the MS intern program events! Microsoft spends millions of dollars on us and you need to attend these events! The speaker series is awesome, and so are the events that your group puts on. I made it a point to attend as many of these events as possible and I gained a ton from them. I would often make up lost work time by staying later on these particular days (9pm or so).
Click for a picture of your estimates
Your estimates are garbage. I estimated my entire project would take me 20 days but I barely finished it before I left. Just know that things will probably take three to four times as long as you would expect. The reason for this is mostly because you have no idea what you’re doing. You’ll have super smart people reviewing your code changes, they’ll nab you for a ton of things you never would’ve noticed yourself and it’ll take you a while to get this feedback incorporated so things are production quality. Speed comes with experience, and I even noticed my development speed increasing towards the end of my internship.
Lastly, I cannot emphasize enough how incredible the MS intern program is. It’s truly the best in the industry. None of the other top tech companies pack their interns’ summers with as much fun as Microsoft does. I have friends that have done all the intern programs (Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google) and I’ve had a better time than all of them.
If you have any specific questions get in touch on twitter and I’ll do my best to answer them!