Remember, remember, the 4th of December…
Three months ago, on December 4th, I joined Microsoft as a full-time employee. Based in Vancouver, BC, I work as a program manager on the Engineering System team. Before I started my job, I had a million ideas rolling around in my mind about what life would be like when school finishes and work starts. The reality, however, turned out to be “none of the above”.
Believe it or not, one of the biggest challenges was actually getting to the job. The story of my wait for offer details spanned 6 months. I had been told to expect offer details in July and start the new job in October for the longest time, so after graduating McGill in June, I decided to take advantage of my upcoming “4”-month break, travel around, spend time with family, learn French… It was such a breezy time, doing things you love, at a pace of your own choice, knowing a good job (and a good life) is coming your way. Then it stopped being breezy when, it was a month before your expected start date and you realized you don’t know squat about that “job” supposedly coming your way. Mind began wondering non-stop, mostly around the possibility called you are gonna get diiiitched! I am not ashamed to admit that was when I started panicking, and began bugging everyone I knew at MSVancouver for information. The wait was nerve-wrenching, especially since I was in China, and any update to come my way could only arrive between midnight and 7AM! Waking up to an empty email inbox, disappointed, was how I started most of my days during that period. The unsettling wait for offer details went on until mid-September, and my start date was consequently pushed back to December.
Fortunately, once onboarded, I was off to a good start. Why wouldn’t I be? It’s new, it’s comfortable, it’s exciting, and it’s filled with possibilities. The temporary housing they put me in was a lovely home for the first month. At work, I gradually realized how great my team is, which is such a blessing because I deal with them full-time. I have very available and friendly managers and colleagues, and conversations with them are never boring. This makes me actually want to go to work in the morning. When in doubt, everyone at work is very supportive and willing to help. My team works on internal products, so I was much looking forward to the new experience as a PM for internal customers, as I had only worked with external ones before. Besides, there are so many great benefits that comes with the job, making Microsoft a real “Central Perk”. Vacations, gym, Azure credits, travel discounts… Everything pile together and scream to you: “We will take care of everything in your life, so you can be as productive as possible!”
After the beginner’s excitement wore off, the hard part (a.k.a. Real life) emerged. For starters, working is nothing like studying. There’s much more responsibility and much less to fall back onto. Student Ellery only had to take care of his GPA, but PM Ellery has many projects he takes on. Wrapping up a project is like finishing up with a course in uni in many ways, except the 4-month vacation to follow immediately is replaced by most likely another project. And you know those lazy Wednesdays you take to recharge yourself when you simply don’t feel like going to lectures? That doesn’t exist anymore. Another factor not so great about working is the social life, or the lack thereof, that comes with the package. Meeting new people was so easy on a campus with 40,000 your own age, new to the city and doing the same things as you. In an office? Not so much anymore.
But even now I realized I have left the easy part behind me for good, I am still happy to embrace the work life balance that Microsoft promotes. Everybody practices it. With no peer-pressure to work overtime (which isn’t the case for many tech companies out there in the world, believe me), I have much time to spend on reading and exercising, and even taking on a new hobby: acting. Acting as a hobby takes a lot of time: acting classes, coaching, headshot sessions, auditions, etc., but the flexible hours Microsoft has have made it really easy. If I somehow make it as an actor one day, Microsoft will be one of the first I must thank! This is probably the most attractive thing about Microsoft: yes you are expected to work hard, but also to enjoy life.
First three months of my career are now officially gone – bullets have left gun barrels slower! At this point, the newbie’s thrill has worn off, but I still much look forward to the long way ahead. I hope I make myself ever better at what I do. I hope I meet more amazing people who color up my life. I hope life doesn’t bring me further and further away from my dreams, or always leave hope to me if it does.