New Jersey Collegiate Career Day
After attending an on-campus recruitment session for Microsoft on Feb. 28, 2012, Ramon Valentin, Computer Science '13, was nominated by the Office of Career Services and selected to Experience Microsoft - a "once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the products, people and culture of Microsoft." Ramon went on an exciting all-expense paid, three-day trip to the Microsoft world headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where he met with Microsoft engineers, visionaries, and grassroots innovators.
When asked how the experience contributed to his career goal of becoming a Software Engineer - one who "contribute[s] to the field of technology and…[creates] the next best thing through software" - he said that not only did it show him what it would be like to work in his "dream job," but that he also "learned a lot about the type of interview questions that Microsoft asks, which I can leverage in the future."
In addition to exploring the Microsoft campus, Ramon had the opportunity to conduct over 20 informational interviews - a process that helps students identify what field they'd like to go in and build their professional network. What he learned surprised him: They all said to "Practice, Practice, Practice" - a cliché with some truth to it. "Like in sports, the only way to reach a level of excellence in any career, not just software engineering, is with experience."
Ramon's advice to students is to let your passion run free: "Create and work on your own personal projects, and research topics of your interest" to really set you apart from competition when applying for an internship or job opening. And pay attention in class, even those outside of your major. "My Intro to Software Engineering and Java Programming really prepared me for the technical aspect of the experience… but my speech class taught me how to persuade and catch the attention of an audience. This was a skill that I used when I presented the windows phone application that I created to Microsoft employees."
One of the coolest parts of his experience was learning that Microsoft is currently working on a computer algorithm to help find a cure for AIDS. "I found that fact astonishing because it is a perfect example that software does not only help us do things faster, but can potentially save lives."