09 Aug 2016 19:22 IST

Working with Microsoft and building confidence

At the end of the day, an internship is what you make of it

I joined IIM Indore after working for about three years as a software engineer at Symantec. My decision to pursue a course in management was not because I didn’t like coding anymore or had lost my passion for computers; instead I realised that over the years, I had also developed a passion for communication, planning and management.

This is why I was elated when Microsoft gave me the opportunity to intern with them as a programme manager at their Hyderabad campus for my summer internship.

I was part of the go-to-market team for mobile-only apps in the Office division. My project was to develop a strategy for two small and medium business mobile apps. The project seemed challenging as my prior work experience was in enterprise software products and not mobile apps.

This is where my experience at IIM Indore helped. The rigor of the courses in the first year instils confidence in you to tackle any business problem with a structured thought process.

One of my biggest takeaways from the internship was the importance of effective communication to a programme manager. As a PM, you constantly have to present your ideas to the rest of the team. You need to not only know what to present, but also how to present it. My mentor’s advice was “Be clear, concise and to the point”.

Also, as a PM you cannot work in a silo. You will have to take a lot of decisions that impact other teams as well. Getting a buy-in from various stakeholders before you go ahead with its implementation is extremely crucial for your project’s success.

At Microsoft, a lot of emphasis is given to generating original ideas that can be put into practice. There are special forums where you can pitch them to a wider audience and get feedback. I too presented a marketing idea I had for the apps in that forum. The work done by interns is taken very seriously at Microsoft: they do not differentiate between a full-time employee and an intern.

I got to be a part of an amazing team that did remarkable work and celebrated it remarkably as well. The two months went by in a flash, and I was right in the epicentre of all the action.

At the end of the day, an internship is what you make of it. There is no guide book that will give you a recipe for success. Will you make mistakes? Definitely. But what you learn from them is what makes you a valuable employee. Be active, be eager to learn and realise that you matter.