In their words

Editor’s note:
On the eve of the Microsoft College Tour, PressPass asked for graduates from the schools that chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie is visiting to talk about their experiences in college and at Microsoft.

Helen Drislane says Microsoft is one of the few companies “in which you can own something extremely interesting and cutting-edge from the moment you start.”
  • What did you study at Harvard, and why? I declared computer science my concentration at the end of my freshman year because I had taken a fascinating freshman seminar on the Turing Test, which combined aspects of linguistics, philosophy, math, and computer science. The professor offered to be my academic advisor if I studied computer science, so I immediately signed up. I was initially intrigued with coding because of the new, logical way of approaching problem-solving, but I think it became most interesting when used as a tool to help investigate other – at that time, academic – questions.

  • What are you doing at Microsoft now? I am currently a program manager on the Internet Explorer User Experience team. I worked on a handful of features that shipped with Internet Explorer 8, including tab grouping, and Windows 7, including all Touch features for Internet Explorer 8 in Windows 7. It’s very exciting to have worked on two products that shipped in my first two years as a Microsoft employee. I am looking forward to next steps with each of these products.

  • What is a typical day like for you? Post-caffeination (of course), I started one recent day by working with our design team to discuss the end-to-end experience of a feature, ensuring we weren’t missing any key components. After this, I met with the developer and tester on that feature to determine if the proposed design was feasible, discuss possible implementations, and work through edge cases. Switching gears, I held a brainstorming session with program managers working on related features to highlight possible points of integration between our features. Towards the end of the day, I stopped in to one of the many lectures Microsoft arranges to see a visiting Harvard Business School professor speak about innovation.

  • What global problem do you hope will be solved by technology in the near future? While there have already been many efforts and much progress in this area, I think technology could help a lot with reducing the effects of global warming.

  • Why is Microsoft a worthy employment objective for top grads? It’s one of the few companies in which you can own something extremely interesting and cutting-edge from the moment you start — even as a recent college hire. Also, the features you work on are not only the kinds of things you can point out to your parents when The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal has an article that highlights your feature; they will also be used by millions of users around the globe. You will be working closely with smart, enthusiastic, motivated people, and you can do all this and maintain a good work-life balance, so you can keep up with all of your other hobbies and interests. Really, how many other places can you work on something you find interesting just out of college, get paid well to do something you love, and have a good work-life balance?

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