I interned as a Program Manager at Microsoft's Experimental Projects Division, the Garage.
It’s the feeling of finding those who share mutual passions, those who make you laugh so hard you lose your voice for a week, those who go to the beach at 2am just to lay down and count the stars with you, people who just get it— your people. That feeling came rushing back to me every morning as I stepped foot into our office building. A series of inside jokes and silent chanting of our intern anthem (speaking of which, please listen to it while you read the rest of this post 🙏) laid the foundation of inseparable friendships. And I hope you too, will find your own Microsoft Garage.
I just came back from the Microsoft Build Developer Conference 2018, with a ticket so generously gifted to me from the incredible Cloud Developer Advocates team during my internship 🎉 . I went last year too, but this year was really something else. I sat in the audience as they announced the release of 2 AI projects we worked on during our internship— Snip Insights & Mobile Chest X-Ray Analysis. It was heartwarming to see how different teams across Microsoft have also spent the past year revolutionizing the way AI is used in our day to day workflows. But also, tears flew out of my eyes when I saw our faces on the screen credited as the team behind those 2 projects. The early mornings and late nights (not to mention, getting a flood of messages from our manager to go home) we worked have evolved from prime team bonding time, to now, products on the big screen for everyone to try at Build. Our project even made it to TechCrunch! It was at that very moment when I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be able to create such impactful projects. I never want to stop doing this.
These past 4 months have probably been one of the greatest experiences in my life. Every day of the internship held a new surprise and we never quite knew what we’d be working on or what challenges might come up, besides the fact that our team would always come out of it stronger. As the only Program Manager intern, I had the pleasure of working across all 4 project teams (Snip Insights, Cloud Chest X-Ray Analysis, HoloLens & Minecraft: Education Edition).
This internship wasn’t an easy one. We built out our own prototypes, we sketched our own ever-changing architecture diagrams, threat models and scoped our own features, only to be (constructively) torn apart at our weekly “Dragon’s Den” style pitches to different internal teams. We did over 50 user research and usability testing sessions to continuously iterate on our features and design. We actually went through a 180-degree UI/UX change for Snip Insights 3 days before presenting our project to the CVP of Cloud AI. Needless to say, agile did us well. We passed compliance (accessibility review and testing, privacy reviews, security reviews, global readiness, code analyses, open source release review) by a hair, as we worked until exactly 5:00pm on our last day. And believe me when I say, I will never view products, and accessibility in particular, the same way ever again. I have a LOT more respect for products that go the extra mile to protect users' information, handle localization, and be accessible for all users. This internship was a life-changingly rewarding one.
The once foreign Garage desks, chairs, and kitchen had become so familiar. As I walked past the area one last time, the rush of nostalgia flushed away that familiarity and suddenly, I realized what was once the entrance had become the exit. With that being said, I know those doors will always be opened. In fact, I’ll be heading back very soon for an exciting Tweet Chat panel and to present our project at the Imagine Cup Finals! As for all the friends I made during my time here, stay in touch. The world is only so small. 😉
Here are some bonus videos and tweets from our internship that you might enjoy!
I'm still smiling so hard from seeing our @MSFTGarage intern project-- Snip Insights (https://t.co/k9FygjiBm8) released at @weehyong's Get Started Infusing AI into Applications session at #MSBuild. 🎉 It's ACTUALLY our default snipping tool! 😉 pic.twitter.com/hEYbe3gRip— Charmaine Lee (@charmaine_klee) May 7, 2018
HUGE thank you to the 🌟incredible🌟 @azureadvocates for bringing me to #MSBuild (and letting me see our projects come to life on stage, it was honestly a life changing experience) + @HockeyGeekGirl's team for the invite to all the amazing student events. Until next time! 🎉💖 pic.twitter.com/VShUotfeOA— Charmaine Lee (@charmaine_klee) May 12, 2018
If you too, love turning ideas into real projects, you NEED to check out the Garage.