Ever since I heard that many Computer Science alumni from my school, Olin, end up working at Microsoft, I had always wanted to work at Microsoft. Especially with Microsoft’s heavy investment in ChatGPT and its heavy expansion in gaming through its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, I knew that it was the best time to join the company.
And the day I received the email notification that I received an internship offer for a software engineering role, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Landing an internship at a tech giant like Microsoft was a dream come true, and I was determined to make the most of this opportunity.
In this article, I’ll be highlighting my process from submitting my résumé all the way to receiving my offer!
Step 1: Applying
I began my journey, I received an email SWE Intern that the Microsoft SWE Internship Application was open. The site is a great place to stay up to date on internship and new grad postings so you get email notifications whenever a posting goes up. The worst part of the job application season is, in my opinion, not when you fail an interview, but when you miss a job opening that’s only open for a couple of days. If I never applied to Microsoft in the first place, I would have never received the offer, how scary is that! I missed out on many opportunities like this, so I suggest that you avoid this mistake, and be ready to apply.
The Summer2024-Internships GitHub Repository from Pitt CSC & Simplify is also a great resource!
For tips on optimizing a software engineer résumé, since in this step you’ll need to submit one, I recommend checking out this résumé writing resource on the Technical Interview Guide and using this résumé scanner on Résumé Worded to improve your resume. The Résumé Scanner tool has up to five free résumé scans per account, and I recommend trying to hit a score of at least 90% (on the free tier) before submitting your résumé.
With the notification link, I submitted an online application through Microsoft’s official website. At this point, I have applied to Microsoft for the fourth year running including their New Technologists Program, Explore, sxand their regular SWE internship. And now (spoiler alert) I have received an offer to join Microsoft in Summer 2024, it was a path marked by persistence, and it taught me that success often requires unwavering determination; remember, your chance will come when you least expect it, so never give up on your dreams!
Step 2: Preparing for The Final Round Interviews
After a couple of weeks, I got an email notification from Microsoft that I was selected to participate in the final round virtual interviews.
I prepared for the interviews by studying the Microsoft specific LeetCode questions which you can find online through LeetCode or the many resources online that have company tagged questions like in this GitHub repository.
If you’re unsure or new to coding interviews, I highly recommend checking out NeetCode’s Roadmap and understanding the problem concepts all the way to Graphs (since JP Morgan almost never asks DP questions for their OA’s.) There is also a Tech Interview Handbook guide on preparing for the “coding” part of coding interviews if you’re curious.
For general software engineering interview advice, I recommend checking out the Technical Interview Guide, a free interview prep guide made by the Yangshun Tay, author of the famous Blind 75 LeetCode List.
You can also check out Cracking the Coding Interview from Gayle Laakmann McDowell, which includes all the extensive information you need to know to navigate the often intimidating technical interviews conducted by top technology companies. The book covers a wide range of topics, including data structures, algorithms, system design, behavioral questions, and even in-depth interview strategies for specific big tech companies like Microsoft.
Step 3: The Final Round Interviews
The interview day consisted of two 45-minute interviews; the first part dedicated to behavioral questions, where I had to showcase my problem-solving skills through a simple algorithm problem and explain how I have taken initiative in a previous role. According to Microsoft values, the company not only values technical proficiency but also qualities like teamwork, adaptability, and communication, which they aim to gauge through these behavioral questions.
Cracking the Coding Interview also includes information about specific company interview processes and what each company expects about of you, including Microsoft if you would like to know about the specifics about its interview. (Gayle has triple interned at Microsoft, so I’d take her word for it!)
The second part of the final round focused on a design question related to an A/B test class. While you may be asking. “why are they asking system design questions for an intern role?” Because the technical knowledge isn’t the important part! The interview wanted to gauge my ability to approach complex problems methodically, ask insightful questions, brainstorm multiple solutions, make optimized decisions based on the circumstances, and rethink previous solutions based on new features; an extremely valuable skill in a software engineering role.
For general knowledge, I highly recommend the System Design Interview — An Insider’s Guide by Alex Xu with a focus on Chapter 3: A Framework for System Design Interviews which goes in depth of how to approach and what the interviewer is looking for in a system design interview.
Step 4: The Offer & Beyond
And only three business days later, I received an internship offer from Microsoft!
My journey to securing a Software Engineering Internship at Microsoft was filled with excitement, hard work, and determination. The application process were challenging but incredibly rewarding. And while the interview process was only two weeks long, taking inspiration from Picasso himself, I’d say getting the offer took me a lifetime.
I encourage aspiring interns to focus not only on technical skills but also on their problem-solving abilities, adaptability, and effective communication when applying to companies like Microsoft. The experience was a stepping stone in my career, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow at a company that has been at the forefront of technological innovation for decades.
And hopefully, you’ll be able to post your own offer announcement on LinkedIn!
Good luck to anyone who is thinking about or preparing for their software engineer interviews at Microsoft, and happy learning!
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