EricHarlan

What its like to work at Microsoft

After 1 year, what it’s like to work at Microsoft?
A year ago, after taking a 1 month hiatus to ski the west, clear my head and prepare myself of the journey that was undoubtedly going to be challenging and rewarding all in the same breath I started at Microsoft. At pretty much every conference I speak at or at every single customer engagement I go to I get the same question. “What is it like to work at Microsoft?”
I was really thinking of writing this post six months ago when I thought I had a grip on exactly what working at Microsoft and the Premier Field Engineer role really entailed.  I found that each time I sat down to pen this article, something new came in to throw off my thinking of how awesome it actually was. So here we go, after a year and finally finding my way in the organization…..THIS is what it’s like to work at Microsoft.
The first surprising thing I came to find is that working in PFE is probably one of the best places to be in MSFT.  Specifically for me it’s the transactional side of PFE. Yes, I travel. I travel quite a bit but what many don’t understand is you don’t HAVE to really travel all that much.  You can travel technically up to 75% but in a year I haven’t traveled close to that. The key is building your own business getting to know local organizations and their needs and helping them out often.  When you start at PFE one of the things they put emphasis on is being your own boss and managing your calendar. This couldn’t be more the truth.  We have almost 95% total control of our calendars and engagements, if you build up your business you can choose when and where to go which is just the bee’s knees.
The internal support structure is honestly something to behold.  One of the things I was worried about most when joining is, what if I didn’t know the answer to something or how to fix something. What outlets did I have that wouldn’t make me look like a moron.  You have various Venn diagram style levels of a network. You have your core team, who you work with often which is usually for me, the SharePoint people in my region (east coast). Then you have the network you’ve built from relationships that could span the entire globe. People you help and in turn help you out in your time of need.  Then when that doesn’t lead to the answers you need you have the entire Premier distribution lists internally that cover everything from SharePoint to Ad, from Technical to Non-Technical and almost everything in between. Tons of tools that help us look into past cases that were fixed and closed for possible resolutions and the list goes on.
The bottom line is that Microsoft employees are some of the smartest people on the planet. The first time I was on campus and made my way to commons for lunch, I grabbed my food and headed up to the balcony to soak in my current state and enjoy some nice Pho’.  I sat in awe as the conversations of those around me flowed over my table and through my ears.  I was truly in the presence of people that loved their job and were getting smarter and smarter for doing it.
PFE specifically is HUGE on community and trust me, someone that came from a very community based frame of mind, I was skeptical at first.  In fact when I was contemplating my decision to make the jump to Microsoft it was one of the biggest things I got hung up on. How would MSFT/PFE support me in my speaking and traveling to speak?  It turned out that my manager and the PFE leadership from the East region understood this facet of my life and ultimately my value back to the company and building of my own career.  I won’t talk too much about what I’ve done since being on board in the way of traveling, you can dig up some of my blogs from months past if you want to know more but the truth of the matter is there is a lot of room for community work.  They understand it’s an ever rotating Win/Win for me, the community and the company.
Who knows if it’s the greatest company to work for, I’ve only worked for a few and I’m sure other tech companies have just as much fun. But to that effect I will say this.  There has only been a small stretch of time in the entire year (like 2 weeks) where I felt over worked. And it really came from the fact that I wasn’t managing my calendar enough.  Once I kind of figured out how to stack up my time accordingly I haven’t felt as though I’ve really been working at all more than enjoying what I did.
PFE is very big on making sure you are not over utilized, in fact if you are working too much it’s looked at in the same light as if you were working for a smaller company and weren’t working enough. That took me quite a bit to get used to. The novel idea that a company actually wanted you to work enough to pull your weight but not enough to burn you out was just incomprehensible. That in itself is a huge perk.
What about the perks Eric? Geez, the perks you know this entire post could be on the perks of the job. Some of which can’t really even be explained.  It’s hard to explain the expected utilization vs. actual hours you work combined with billing for the time you travel.  All of which are ENORMOUS perks and without context of a good sit down discussion won’t make much sense.  The training available, discounts on pretty much anything you can purchase in technology, hardware allowances the list goes on and on.
At the end of a year, the truth of the matter is that I don’t really feel like it’s been a year at all. In fact it’s flown by in a blur of new people, new challenges and ever exposed new beginnings. I love this job, the job that doesn’t feel like work one bit. To this day I’m still grateful I’m even recognized as being worth, for lack of a better word, to share this space with so many smart people that I’ve met from literally around the globe.
In all seriousness if you’re looking for a new challenge and you think you want to see if PFE is a good fit for you. We are hiring. Aggressively.
No seriously… https://careers.microsoft.com/Feed/Search.ashx?ss=SharePoint&jc=37&pr=all&dv=all&ct=all&rg=US〈=en

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