Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Microsoft internships?

I am thinking of trying to get an internship with Microsoft next summer (which will be the summer after I graduate from high school). It seems that most people intern with them after being in college for a year or two; will they accept people who haven't even entered college yet?

What if I have advanced skills that most interns don't have? By next summer, I won't even be reading textbooks (that includes ones designed for graduate CS courses), I'll just be reading research papers.

How hard is it to become a Microsoft intern? Is it like the MIT of programming internships?

What if I don't know about things like, say, Extreme Programming? What does Microsoft place more emphasis on, algorithmic thinking, or flavor of the week crap? Being able to use high-level technologies to quickly make things is nice, but isn't Microsoft supposed to be the people who make those technologies, and thus someone who just reads those awful 800-page WROX books ("full of practical information -- that will be useless in 18 months!") won't make it?

If Microsoft won't accept me, what companies will? What are good places to go?

-Warren

Warren Henning
Sunday, July 28, 2002

Microsoft full-timers may be pretty good but we once hired an ex-intern from MS who were pretty lousy.

Humbug
Sunday, July 28, 2002


My Advice (Based on the MS Hiring Practices of 199X) ...

1) Learn C Really Well
2) Learn a bit of VC++, Databases, and General SW Eng theory.
3) Be a geek with passion. 

Victor Stone (http://www.fourstones.net) once said that micrsoft is a cult of intellegence.  Be smart.  Know it.  Have a little teeny bit of social skills. :-)

Other places to go?  Oracle, Cisco, Google, Google, Google, Google, ... not Juno. :-)

regards,

Matt H.
Monday, July 29, 2002

We had high school interns.  The youngest I knew of was 16. She interned her junior and senior year.  I believe it was a test position, not much programming required, just creative thinking and organization.

Good Luck,

exmsft
Monday, July 29, 2002

Until this year, if you'd interned at MS atleast twice and scored well rating wise then you were pretty much insured a full time position at MS.  That said, until this year most ex-MS Interns would be the crap of the flock, but no longer the case.

My first internship there was an open position for almost every intern applying for FTE.  My second internship last summer there were 5 interns competing for every open position.  Needless to say there's a lot of us that ended up looking for work elsewhere.

MS has been known in the past to hire technically brilliant high-schoolers without any college education.  A PM on the product I was working on actually interned in high school there as well.

Lucas Goodwin
Monday, July 29, 2002

As Joel has stated on this site, Microsoft tries to hire people that are "smart" and "get stuff done".  This extends to interns, so your specific skill set with soup-of-the-day technology is far less important than your raw aptitude and enthusiasm.

That said, if you want to intern as a Software Design Engineer you should at least be proficient with C++ and familar with other languages.  Also, if you don't get the internship the first time, don't take it personally.  Keep learning and try again in a year.  Last I heard we employ around 700-1000 interns each summer.  My guess of the breakdown is 75% are juniors or seniors, 20% freshmen or sophomores, and maybe 5% are high school interns (if that).

On a personal note, if you're primarily interested in writing software do not accept a position as an STE or SDET unless you really want to get early exposure with other aspects of the development lifecycle (which is fine, just know what to expect).  Although it might help you get your foot in the door you would be better off at another company or working on a peronal project where you can get design and coding experience.

Good luck.  I'm obviously biased, but IMHO Microsoft has one of the top internship programs of any company, anywhere.

Random Microsoft Employee
Tuesday, July 30, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home