Saturday, November 26, 2005

The "Should I come work for Microsoft?" Post

One commenter asks:

I have an offer from MS to join. What is your suggestion on that. From the posts here, the situation in MS does not seem to be very good, but still it is a good company ?

Another from a while back:

I'm a student at the University of Waterloo and have been reading this blog for a while. This is totally offtopic, but considering the whole reorg and the supposed mass employee dissent, or at least the distrubance, is now a good time to be an MSFT intern?
Also, any resume/interview tips?

In short, my opinion is:

  • Join for an internship: Yes.
  • Join fulltime: No.

Full-disclosure and truth in blogging: I can't say this is the place you're going to find a lot of pro thoughts related to supporting you being yet another Microsoft hire. I mean, my goodness, my whole original reason for starting these few web pages was to argue that Microsoft had to be smaller to succeed. Less on the hire, more on the fire.

I will say this though: Microsoft is a fantastic company with some of the absolute best coworkers in the world. The ability to affect anyone using a computer is almost unparalleled. The amount of pride you can achieve through reflecting what your contributions can do or have done is enormous. There is no other place like it.


It's just that Microsoft has grown way too much (resulting in increased management and bureaucracy) and has promoted untalented, uninspiring people upwards. New hires find themselves unable to have as big an impact as they have in the past, and might overhear managers wandering the hall reflecting on how most employees are cogs and easily replaceable (if you end up sitting in my hallway).

Why do I stay? Because I know how good it can be and I believe getting Microsoft performance tuned isn't all that hard but it does involve a certain amount of sustained visibility into how bad things are and pressure on leadership to start not only talking about agility and accountability but visibly demonstrating and supporting it. Along with flattening the company through identifying and pushing out the burned-out and the deadwood.

If you're the sort of person who can succeed in a vacuum and not grow cynical quickly and poison your career, then you should seriously consider Microsoft as an option.

Now, as far as internships for Microsoft go, I think it's great and anyone who can intern should intern. It's great for the interns typically because Microsoft is so desperate to find and hire excellent technical people that the interns actually get hard, interesting work along with the best mentor the group has to offer. And boy do you get wooed while you're here. Please read the old entries in Mr. Sinofsky's tech-talk down below for more on that.

I appreciate interns coming in because typically they still have that "nothing is impossible!" fire streaming through their veins and, while making clumsy mistakes and not appreciating the depth of world-class-software, bring an enthusiasm and a productivity that helps turn the spotlight on blue-badgers who have plateaued or are ready to move on to the next job in life and just need a little help.

But don't accept the job offer at the end of your internship. I'll repeat myself here for people fresh to the job market:

For folks just out of college, my only insight is: if you're unattached and unencumbered by responsibilities the last thing you need to do is go work for a large, slow moving corporation in the 'burbs. Take risks and live the crazy big city life and blow your youthful energy laying down effort on the big pay-off opportunities. You will learn more and do more than you can possibly imagine, especially compared to being placed as a new shiny cog in the corporate machine (where all you can say during your first review is, "And what does this 3.0 mean?"). Then come knocking on the door of the corporate beast in the idyllic, moist, family friendly Pacific Northwest .

For well-written perspectives on the other side of this issue, be sure to visit Jobs Blog and Steven Sinofsky's tech-talk. Both are very responsive to comments asking probing questions.

(Re-repost: fixed tech-talk URL but then had to repost due to MSO HTML namespaces screwing up the web feed. Sorry about that.)
(Re-re-repost: what the heck. s/replicable/replaceable/ - not sure what my fingers were thinking.)

No comments:

Post a Comment