Microsoft Co-op Promotes Exploration

A co-op at Microsoft Corporation means qualifying your accomplishments through innovative work and projects – Computer Engineering rising senior Jui Hanamshet went back for her second co-op at Microsoft with fresh enthusiasm and excitement.

Hanamshet spent the first three months of her co-op cycle with Goldman Sachs in a role entirely based in data science and high-level mathematics. She enjoyed this role, but was eager to spend her second three months of her final co-op with Microsoft in a position that combines everything she loves about software engineering. Data science and software development as well as customer interaction and the opportunity to receive consumer feedback round out her experience. There are a plethora of virtual networking opportunities that Microsoft offers, such as personal branding and networking with different employees that provide a sense of the normalcy. As Hanamshet scrolls through her work calendar, accepting invitations to events that will arm her with the knowledge to feel like an industry insider that will help her succeed in this field.

Her main focus right now is building a feature in Visual Studio, Microsoft’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for different coding languages. She’s assigned a mentor and a manager who she attends weekly meetings with, conveying her updates and to do lists for the week.

“I’ve gotten used to working entirely remote. I have a routine set up, and with Microsoft specifically, I see the changes from year when I was an in-person intern versus this year when I’m remote. It lacks the connection with other interns where we could explore the city and attend in-person events, or ask another intern to meet for coffee. The natural ways to network and get to know people are missing, but Microsoft is doing a lot to bring that same experience remotely. They have a dedicated team for the intern program who organizes all our online events, and so my calendar is always full of events to attend, which I think is great. There’s so many options,” says Hanamshet. She also notes the struggle of working on the east coast for a team based in west coast hours, but is grateful for her team working hard to create familiarity between one another. They always have their face cameras on during meetings, and are always open to receiving messages from one another.

“The natural ways to network and get to know people are missing, but Microsoft is doing a lot to bring that same experience remotely.”
Jui Hanamshet

Microsoft has created a rewarding environment for remote work, even going so far as to allow employees, and even interns, to work on exploratory projects. Hanamshet has the opportunity to work on an idea for a feature to add to a specific product. It’s a real possibility that the feature will succeed—but it’s equally or even more possible that the feature will fail. The notion is to explore your feature, build a prototype, release it to a test group of consumers, and receive feedback. Based on their reactions, Microsoft decides whether or not to implement this feature.

“I think it’s really interesting because I have to be okay with the fact that the 12 weeks of work I put into that might not get pushed to production, and not everyone who uses the product will see it. I don’t feel bad about it – my manager said that every feature failure is a learning experience. So if you haven’t found something that people want by going through the whole product development cycle and getting feedback, you’ll know what people don’t want and you can build a better feature in the future,” Hanamshet explains.

Her exploratory project specifically deals with Visual Studio. There’s an existing feature where, once you type code, it will auto-complete your code to mirror what you’ve already written with generic suggestions. Microsoft is constantly training these suggestions to new data and open source software projects on sites like GitHub. Hanamshet is working on personalizing and tailoring these suggestions to people’s own personal projects and past files.

Microsoft also creates a valuable environment through efforts to improve diversity, inclusion and accessibility. It’s not about numbers – it’s about having people from diverse backgrounds and making sure they’re included and comfortable.

“I think they do a really good job. When I first joined in meetings, I didn’t really have anything to say because I had only just started. Despite that, my mentor constantly encouraged me to share my thoughts and opinions. If a person wants to suggest something— they’re free to do so. They want to hear your opinion and hear how you’re doing. The same goes for accessibility. Every product, every feature we use needs to go through numerous accessibility tests so that it’s compatible with screen readers. Microsoft does a spectacular job at the D&I and Accessibility Initiative, and a lot of what I’m learning here I hope to transfer to Women in Computing Society, a student organization at Drexel. I’m the president this year, so I’m trying to bring all of these learnings to us so we can also make these inclusion efforts as our members come from all different backgrounds,” says Hanamshet.

It’s these factors that allow Hanamshet to feel complete in her final co-op at Drexel. She looks forward to the future, and feels prepared to succeed in her desired industry, with knowledge and experience that will make her a stellar candidate in the world of computer engineering.