From a Business/Startup Kid to a Software Engineer Intern with Microsoft Taiwan

Don’t get me wrong. I still love everything about startups.

I love how everyone is so energetic and eager to share his or her products and stories in startups. I had a fantastic summer last year interning at 25Sprout, whose product SurveyCake has had rapid and steady growth over the year, and a series of great stories on Medium. Since then, I have also started a few projects with friends which are extremely exciting and the learning curve is simply amazing (Hey, just let me blow my own horn this time, I was still an Accounting student no more than two years ago).

And yes, I can still picture the 30-year-old self to be having a startup myself, working with great and lovely colleagues to make the world a more joyful place for young students to shine in their own ways.

But for now, there are just a number of reasons (besides the brand name) that made me convinced to say that joining Microsoft as a Software Engineer Intern, instead of spending my summer working on my own projects, is a way better choice for me to grow — for now!

#Pre-Internship: A little bit about myself.

Let me put it this way, I do not think I am well-trained as a Computer Science student. I had a miserable time studying Accounting for the first two years of University, knowing that this is nothing close to what I would like to do for a living. I can’t. I had an auditing internship in the gorgeous New York City but struggled to enjoy any bit of it other than being able to wander in the city with my girlfriend.

It may be a bit off the topic, but the point is I had really worked hard after that to double major in Computer Science, self-learnt with MOOCs and gladly joined CityU Apps Lab where I was finally capable and comfortable to start developing my own projects. With that and the startup experiences, I did grow rapidly as a developer. But that is only two years, I knew I still lack several pieces of knowledge.

I thought a lot of the knowledge I despised and the lectures I didn’t pay attentions to (so I could spend time self-learning) were pointless. Until recently, I realized that although I did develop a handful of projects, a lot of them do face similar bottlenecks — I don’t know how to grow and maintain projects (properly). I don’t know how to design and architect software that scales (of course, I mean properly). I pitched my MVP in two VC events and bagged nothing.

I had a series of failures in last semester. But one thing I did for good — Organizing a free Hackathon for students to network and meet co-workers among ourselves on campuses brought me connections with Microsoft as they sponsored our event. I later got Internal Referred and secured this precious internship opportunity in my hometown after two interviews.

#Internship: I have 2 projects, Microsoft has thousands (and cooler).

To today, I have interned at Microsoft for exactly a month. I have been working with the Bing Geocoding Team and particularly on an internal tool for testing, benchmarking and user-analyzing.

The team is amazing. I have two great mentors with experiences of 10+ years in multinational tech giants, working with them give me the opportunity to easily learn one thing or two from them every day. I was also fortunate enough that the fiscal year ended after my onboard date, so I had the chance to meet supervisors and managers from higher levels who flew from Seattle to discuss the FY18 year plan with the team in Taiwan.

The manager is also very supportive, caring enough to invite me to a dinner and more importantly, the year-end stand-up meeting when it was only my fourth day at work knowing that I will only be in the office for another 2 months. These first days at work really changed my preconceptions of the bureaucratic Microsoft.

And of course, there are more than that.

A lot of the technologies Microsoft has been working on are extremely attractive (I am not trying to say everything is, but we do have really cool projects!). And there are really no magics, behind every piece of “magics”, there are a group of talented and hard-working folks at their wits’ ends. The very fact that the managers, who have been coding for over twenty years, are still learning new things and technologies every day is particularly encouraging.

That is something I want to become. A non-stop learner that inspires and also get inspired. Surrounding myself with a group of people who have achieved what I want to achieve is really just a choice I cannot regret.

#Dare To Do

One of the reasons I started to think about blogging was because I have had a couple of friends coming lately. They all share the same source of worries — not knowing what they want to do, or more importantly what they can do, in the future.

Well, I still have troubles answering the first part of the question. There is absolutely no way for me to know what these friends want to do. But what I do know from my personal experience is this — You can do anything as long as you are willing to start doing it. And this is always my answer to the second part of the question.

I have another friend, Wei, who studied Forestry and ended up working with startups on the business parts. I myself studied Business and now work as a Software Engineer Intern for a company I am personally a fan of. I know how difficult it is to start learning something fresh new again late in universities or even when your professional career just got started.

But is it really late?

Let’s see, these friends are pretty much like me, 20-ish, I honestly don’t see how this is too old to play with some new toys. I was super dependent due to how close my family members are; I would never trust my own decisions if I hadn’t come to study abroad. I would never dare to see and enjoy this whole world if I hadn’t just caught a plane and volunteered in Europe for the summer of my freshman year without any plans. I would never be proud of being a coding nerd if I hadn’t just get started with Java on my way to work at the auditing firm two years ago…

I think I have made some decisions and trials that seemed daunting at the beginning. All of them turned out to be rewardingly life-changing. I still think I could have been so different a person if any of the decisions weren’t made, so I appreciate every opportunity pushing myself to become a better self.

So yeah, the point is… I am entering my fifth year of college to complete my second major degree, so technically I have had my 4-year University life. I would really like to share some of the experiences I have to people and students that are looking for hope in the sense of “See! This guy did it, so can I!”… Anyways, I took a lot of great inspirations from my family, friends and teachers. I would really love to be part of this to start inspiring and keep getting inspired.

If this sounds cool, connect me on Linkedin or simply leave comments below to let me know what else I can share (I think I might share the materials and websites I used for self-learning next), or share with me who you are, I would really love to meet more students and great people from all over the world.