Breaking Into the Tech Industry (Microsoft)

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Emily Chan is a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft. In Emily’s role, she pipelines top engineering talent through various online sourcing methods (her favorite one being LinkedIn) and find these candidates a home at Microsoft.

During her free time, you can find Emily drinking coffee, buying (too many) plants, and working on a passion project called Sparkline! Sparkline (formerly CEO Mindsets) is an initiative that focuses on empowering students to secure their dream jobs and internships through practical resume, interview, and networking tips. Recently, they have been hosting different workshops on personal branding, LinkedIn, etc. at different colleges and it’s really great to have the opportunity to interact with their audience.

Sparkline is looking forward to expanding their reach to more colleges in the new year! If you’re interested in collaborating with them, feel free to reach out at hello@sparklineco.com and they’ll work together to bring your idea to life!

Emily Chan (Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft)

Now, we will delve deeper into the Q&A below where I have asked Emily to provide her input for those who are looking to pursue a career in tech or those who are interested in heading into tech. Emily is excited to share a bit about the tech industry and offer some insight for those who are interested in breaking into this dynamic industry!


What are the kinds of careers that Microsoft offers for those who are interested in applying for a tech role there? What are the specific digital skills needed?

Microsoft offers a lot of different kinds of careers in tech – some examples are software engineering, mechanical engineering, hardware engineering, etc. You name it, Microsoft probably has a role. I specifically focus on recruiting for software engineers. In terms of skills needed for it, most of my roles require working knowledge of an object-oriented language like Java, C++, or C# and experience working with highly available and scalable distributed systems. There aren’t too many hard requirements because we recognize everyone has a different story and we want to focus on hiring engineers with a growth mindset and good potential!


Last month, Microsoft announced that they want to help create millions of tech jobs in the UK. How do you think this will help shape the industry?

This is an amazing initiative that will not only boost the tech industry, but help the UK’s economy as well. Technology is the future and businesses will only be able to sustain themselves if they include tech in their business strategies. This initiative will not only help expand and accelerate the path into the tech industry but will also aid in creating a more diverse talent pipeline in tech.


Is training offered for those who are looking to pivot their career direction or those with zero experience in tech?

Although Microsoft offers extensive training for new employees to learn our tech stack, we do expect candidates to know the fundamentals of computer science and to have some experience working in tech.

If you are a recent graduate with no experience in tech, I encourage you to apply to our amazing internship programs! That’ll help you get your foot in the door for full time opportunities.

If you’re in the middle of your career looking to switch into tech, I recommend either 1) going back to school to learn the basic fundamentals of computer science and then applying for our internships/full time roles or 2) taking a coding boot camp and gaining some industry experience at smaller tech companies before applying to Microsoft. 


How do you get your foot in the door?

Network, network, network! LinkedIn is a great place to get in touch with people working at your dream companies. Do some research about them and reach out for a coffee chat to learn more about them, the role, and the company. Build and maintain that relationship and more often than not, they’ll be happy to give you a referral. 

One disclaimer I want to make for this is that you want to make sure you meet all the basic qualifications first! If you don’t, you can network all you want, but it’ll be very hard to land the role. This is because those are the basic skills you need to succeed in that role and companies are not going to bring a candidate into situations where they won’t succeed.


What should a job seeker be aware of when working at a tech company?

Be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to adapt quickly. Things are always changing whether it be a customer requirement or a new technology.


How does the job market look currently for tech?

More now than ever, the tech space is growing at an increasingly fast rate. Especially with the pandemic, everything has shifted to virtual and people are relying more and more on tech. Companies are working on innovative products to adjust to the modern workplace and modern society so there is such a high demand for good engineers in the tech industry. It’s a really exciting time to be in this space!


Technology is one of the top growing industries currently. How much has it grown compared to pre-pandemic? What are the most in-demand careers and skills right now?

As I discussed earlier, tech is in demand now more than ever. Everything is virtual now and even after the world goes back to “normal,” a lot of things will remain virtual.

I can’t speak for different companies since the tech stack varies, but overall, Microsoft looks for working knowledge of an object-oriented programming language and industry experience with highly available and scalable distributed systems.