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Microsoft

4.5
  • > 100,000 employees
Microsoft Graduate - Katie Ward

Katie Ward

The company strongly encourages us to constantly review our plans for the future and what roles we'd like to find ourselves in further down the track. No role is off-limits, so the possibilities are endless.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Brisbane suburbs. When I was in my early years at primary school, I was struggling in my mathematics class and my teacher told my concerned parents: "Don't worry, most girls just don't understand maths". My parents pulled me out of that school and sent me to another where there was a strong emphasis on empowering girls. It has been the never-ending support from the incredible teachers that then shaped my schooling career, my parents, and the countless strong young women in my life that have led me to where I am today - a confident woman in tech. 
 
How did you choose your specialisation?

As I went through university and was exposed to what a career in tech looked like, I saw that having a technology-centric skillset opened doors to a wide range of different opportunities. Tech skills are needed across many industries, and there are so many ways to apply what you know. It is this endless opportunity to learn and discover new ways to apply my skills that made me choose tech. 
 
How did you get to your current role in Microsoft?

I learnt about the Microsoft Graduate opportunities when representatives visited my university during my final year of study. The program and the company aligned with my aspirations, and so I made sure to apply when the applications opened.

The first interview was an online call with an Early in Career employee within Microsoft. It was a one-on-one interview that focused on my experiences up to that point, as well as looking into where I saw myself in the future. After that, I was invited into the office for an in-person interview with the manager I would report to and members of the team that I would be a part of. The focus of this interview was to see how I operated as a professional and whether I would be a good fit for Microsoft - and if Microsoft would be a good fit for me.
 
How is it like being a Graduate/Early in Career in Microsoft?

During my time as a graduate at Microsoft, there are two things that have stood out the most: the strong support network, and the investment in my professional development. From the first day, I knew that I had complete support from my mentor, my manager and the other graduates. As I've adjusted to my role and faced different challenges these last few months, this fact has only been confirmed. 

Being a recent graduate and starting in a tech role, I have a lot to learn and with that can come a lot of anxiety. From the outset, my team has been openly invested in my ongoing learning.  I am constantly encouraged to take the time to educate myself on new topics and take myself beyond my comfort zone when it comes to new opportunities. 

Can you describe a typical workday?

There's a large emphasis on continual learning in my role, so my typical day sees me dedicating a bit of time to expanding my knowledge and making sure that I'm developing skills that can help our customers. For the rest of the day, I'll be shadowing more senior members of my team on their projects. Despite being a Graduate, I'm given responsibility and meaningful work that allows me to have an impact. This sees me being involved in client meetings, conducting research, performing proofs-of-concept, and writing documentation. 

A recent project that I was working on was connecting Australian farms to the Internet of Things - that is, creating an infrastructure that allowed farmers to install sensors and easily monitor their farm's health. This was a great project to work on since I could see the direct impact that our work was having.

What are the career prospects with your job?

Since Microsoft is a large global company, there is an incredible number of roles and all of them are unique. The company strongly encourages us to constantly review our plans for the future and what roles we'd like to find ourselves in further down the track. No role is off-limits, so the possibilities are endless.  

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?

I'd be in the graphic design world, perhaps as an illustrator. 
 
What do you love the most about your job?

I love that each day I get to learn something new and that the company celebrates and encourages me to do so.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job?

For me, the biggest limitation (albeit a small one) is that our role sometimes restricts us from delving deeply into a technical solution. On any project, we'll be amongst a team of specialists and engineers who will most commonly be those who execute a solution, while we will take a step back after planning that solution. 

What advice would you give to a current university student? 

  • Keep working hard and don't doubt yourself.
  • Remember to stop and smell the roses, even if that might be difficult.
  • In terms of graduate jobs, apply to a whole range of opportunities - don't limit yourself, you never know what will come along.