I remember my first day at Microsoft. I had mixed feelings as I set foot on the campus in Hyderabad, India. As the first woman engineer from my community, I was so excited to start my new job, against all odds. But at the same time, I was very nervous. Did I have the skills and talent to succeed?
And now, nearly three years later, I can’t help but gasp in amazement about how my fear was turned on its head. During that first day, I met other new employees from all walks of life and was surprised to discover that we shared the same self-doubt. Right away, we started to feel like a community—and when the day ended, I had formed strong bonds that I knew were going to last lifelong.
As I walked out of campus, I no longer felt like I had to prove myself in every single way. I thanked my stars for giving me an opportunity to be a Microsoftie.
Since joining Microsoft, I’ve gained the confidence I needed from having a workplace and culture where I can thrive. I feel seen, empowered, and included in this environment to contribute as much as anyone else. I honestly have some of the best colleagues I could have ever asked for, and I can count on them for anything.
When COVID-19 happened, Microsoft continued to support me. I was able to work remotely and set up an at-home workplace by using equipment that Microsoft provided. I used these benefits to improve my work-life balance and to help me ensure my physical and mental well-being. More importantly, I was able to continue working and provide food on the table for my entire family. It’s meant a lot to me.
I’m so thankful for the support I had that I plan to leave no stone unturned when it comes to helping others pursue their goals.
I now lead technical workshops and résumé building sessions at local engineering colleges. I share advice with students about how to discover a career path that’s right for them and give them the preparation that they need to apply for jobs.
I also volunteer as a LinkedIn Coach through a program that lets Microsoft and LinkedIn employees help job seekers through mentorship, training, and career development. As a coach, I cover many topics with my mentees, including web development and interpersonal skills.
As someone coming from a background of little means who has braved many odds and challenged the status quo to chase my dreams, I understand the importance of helping others who face adversity and disadvantages. It gives me all the more reason to help youth unlock their true potential.
—PriyaBhandari, Hyderabad, India