Well y'all my 10 year anniversary with Microsoft was February 25, 2012. I can't believe I've been working here for 10 years. Before coming to Microsoft the longest I'd worked at any company was three years. I remember when my second anniversary passed, my friends started asking me how soon I'd be moving on. Neither they nor I imagined I'd stick around this long. It's like I blinked and 10 years passed.
I remember when Microsoft first contacted me for an interview. I had been unemployed for about three months largely due to the aftermath of September 11. My resume was posted online just about everywhere imaginable and I was getting a ton of spam and a lot of rejection because either folks weren't hiring or my salary history was too high and companies were afraid that I'd leave once the job market improved. I don't know if any of you have ever been unemployed before, but it really does start to wear on your spirit the longer it goes on. Also, my unemployment benefits were not enough to cover my mortgage AND I couldn't afford COBRA so I had to find healthcare coverage through Blue Cross of IL. I was literally living off severance pay, commission, my last paycheck and unemployment and about to dip into my savings when I got an e-mail from a Microsoft recruiter. Thinking it was spam I almost deleted it, but something said give her a call. I called her and we set up my first phone interview. This was January 2002 and Microsoft had recently released Windows XP.
Now I'll say upfront that my background is not Microsoft technologies. I started my career as a Unix system administrator. I also used to administer an Apple server and at one time I had standardized my entire organizaiton on Mac computers - I'm really dating myself here because it's been almost 20 years since Apple made the effort to have the type of corporate presence it used to have back in the early to mid '90s. I was somewhat of an Apple and Unix bigot and never had much exposure to Microsoft products. During the interview the recruiter kept asking me how much I knew about Windows XP and Office. I kept having to tell her nothing beyond what was on the public website. It was really quite embarrassing. Thank God I interview well and had a technical background and sales skills. I made it past the phone screen but I was definitely not a fit for the first role they were recruiting me for and was passed on to another team.
The second team I interviewed with was looking to add to their growing team of presenters that would travel around the country giving four hour seminars to customers, partners, IT Pros and developers. I made it to the final interview in Dallas. Forget what you've heard about the Microsoft interview process. The whole process is standard technical and situational questions as well as a background check. Developers do get questions meant to test their logic and design skills, however, the legend is way sexier than reality. But I digress, I had to give a technical presentation on the topic of my choice. This is still a pretty common practice at Microsoft depending on the role. I wasn't silly enough to present on any Microsoft products because I knew I'd blow it so I chose the technology from my old company. It made perfect sense to me because I knew that no one would know anything about the technology. I was also allowed to stage the audience the way I wanted and I chose the least technical person in the room to be the decision maker. My strategy worked. Before I left Dallas I had an unofficial offer and a written offer within a week. We did some negotiating over salary, but I did accept the offer. I took a $24k paycut, but it was worth it. Between commission and bonuses in the first two years, I never missed a beat in my total earnings.
So what's happened in the last 10 years?
On the Microsoft front we've seen two or more major releases of Windows Client, Windows Server, Office, Exchange Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio. We've seen the complete evolution of SharePoint, the total overhaul of System Center and Dynamics, the introduction of Hyper-V, Forefront, Intune and Azure. Zune has come and gone and Windows Phone (as well as Microsoft's overall mobile strategy) has come back from the brink of death. Lastly we cannot forget that the world has met and embraced Xbox, Kinect, and Halo - the crown jewels of our entertainment division.
On the personal front, I sold my first house in the suburbs at the top of the market and foolishly bought a condo at the top of the market in the city. I now own a very spoiled Bichon Frise named Tango. I enjoy traveling around the country and the world with my friends. I also enjoy eating out and don't be surprised to see me out at a nightclub in the city. I'm also about to buy a big girl car because I deserve it. Of course I'm using money from my stock options and stock grants to pay for it. Thank you Microsoft.
On the professional front, I have multiple MCITP certifications as well as a CISSP certification. I'm also actively evaluating my next career move within Microsoft. I'm no longer on the team I started with, but I definitely need to flex different muscles and sharpen new skills.
Wow 10 years! Microsoft is not a perfect employer. No employer is perfect. There have been days when I wanted to hand in my resignation and days when I couldn't imagine working anywhere else. I do have to say though, that the good days have definitely outweighed the bad. I'm very much looking forward to what the future has to offer, both for Microsoft and myself.
Hope you guys continue to take the ride with me, however long it lasts. I promise I'll get back to blogging more frequently.
Great post, Sjonia! Microsoft is very lucky to have reatined your interest for as long as they have. May you continue to excell in whatever you do, regardless of role, or company!
Thank you my friend!
Congrats Sjonia for 10 Years with MS.
Your story is highly motivating and great work to make it a blog.
Thank you for the kind words!
Ten years is a long time. I almost thought I was writing the post after reading the first few lines about how long you stayed at a job and your friends inquiring about the next move. I think I am catching hives as we speak. For a non-technical person, you weaved your professional and personal lives together so well that I almost forgot that I didn't understand what you were talking about when you started naming the Microsoft releases and your certifications. :) I'm glad I read it. Thanks for sharing. I don't have a clue what the future will hold for Microsoft, but I know yours is super bright, full of the opportunities you deserve!
Wow, thank you for reading and for the compliment! If you had said to me 10 years ago that not only would I gain a lot of knowledge about our products but would also have certifications in some of them I would have laughed at you. It's definitely been a journey.
Hey..I enjoyed reading...