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Here comes the judge

The Buckster

I like working here. 

I’ve worked a lot of places, and lots of kinds of places, from small startups to huge organizations, the military, at the Kennedy Space Center, medical companies, manufacturing, and service industries. I’ve been in a technical role, but I’ve been a manager a few times as well. I’ve enjoyed most of my jobs, and all of them have taught me things.

Keeping up on the latest tech

Of all the places I’ve worked, I really like working here at Microsoft. I’m surrounded by smart – no, not just smart, incredibly smart – people. I’m constantly humbled by the knowledge I can tap to solve a problem for my clients. I can walk down the hall to the person that wrote the code I’m using and ask a question. And being a global company, I have access to folks around the world. I’ve even called a Microsoft friend and stayed at their house in England – although I don’t think that’s listed in the benefits sheet.

I love London. Really I do. That has nothing to do with the post, just thought I would mention it.

The company is very socially conscious – not only the company, but the people who work here donate millions and millions of dollars to numerous charities. They’ll match my contributions, and even pay my salary to a place I volunteer at. We have other benefits that I’ve only seen in government work. The campus is awesome. The salary isn’t bad either. And I can move around in the company. I’ve had several roles while working here, and they encourage that    so that good ideas spread around the company.

And writing, supporting and creating things that people around the world use every day to get their jobs done is really cool. I feel like I’m helping you get through your day – in businesses, government organizations, hospitals, organizations large and small. It truly feels like we have a mission to help.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Are there tough days? Sure. I’m under no illusions – but on the other hand, I’ve had those kinds of days everywhere I’ve worked – even when I ran my own company for a while.

After you’ve been at Microsoft for a while (I’ve been here six years this month) you’re put through some training to be able to do an “interview loop”. You learn how to conduct an interview, and how to help determine what Microsoft wants in an employee. In fact, there are usually two parts to the interview process – is the person right for Microsoft, and then are they right for the job.  I’ve done quite a few of these interviews, and I take the process very seriously. The next person we hire will work on a team, and it’s important that it’s a “best fit” for everyone. We want to make sure we hire the best and brightest, so the interview process is tough.

So I was thrilled when I was asked to be a judge for the “Be the Next Microsoft Employee” reality show. There’s a lot of competition in technology for good talent, and I thought this show would be a great way to show off Microsoft – a fun, interesting, challenging place to work. You’ll get to see Seattle, the Microsoft campus, and other people that work here. I happily agreed even though I knew it would turn out to be a lot of work, I am sure.

I have been asked to design a series of challenges for the contestants that not only test their technical skills, but show how they work under time pressures, situational difficulties, and ambiguity. We have to deal with this all the time. I’ll have guest judges with me each week who are experts in a particular area that will make sure my challenges are hard but fair, and help me judge the results. Joining me is a friend from Human Resources, Tim DiMarco, who will watch how the candidates react in each challenge. So my challenge is to come up with technical questions that are tough but solvable, challenging but interesting. You can be the judge on how well I did that. We’re not only looking for what a contestant thinks, but how they think.

I’ll be using the AdventureWorks database for the data for most all of the challenges. I’ll use version 2005, since it’s well-documented and has lots of examples the contestants could use to learn from. The challenges will range from database administration to Transact-SQL code to Business Intelligence and even system design. I’ll ensure there is enough information in the question to answer it, but that won’t be obvious – at least at first. Our goal is to see how well a contestant solves the problem, and then communicates the solution. We’ll also be watching for how well they work together – in fact, one of the challenges will specifically require them to work as a team.

At the end of each challenge, we’ll have the contestants present their results. This is very “real-world” Microsoft. You’re constantly asked your thoughts, and you need to be able to defend what you propose as a solution. Whether you’re presenting internally to your team or externally to a client, it’s important you’re technically correct, pay attention to the requirements of the situation, and be able to explain it clearly. That’s what we’re looking for during the challenge.

So join me as we watch the contestants solve the challenges in some interesting ways, and interesting places. It’s going to be a lot of work, and a lot of fun – just like working here!

  • d4a1b723-95e4-4d19-96a5-90578ee8731c

    Awesome!  I look forward to watching.  I'm sure I'll also learn some tips as to how to improve my own job and interview skills to advance my career in BI.  They picked the perfect person to do this.  Good job!

  • Shamas Saeed
    | |

    I am desperate to watch what is happening there. But link is not working for me :(

  • Veronica Sopher - Microsoft
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    Hi Shamas - Please try the link again. Thanks!