Rey Bango

Web developer, honey badger

Joining Microsoft

The last several months have seen a lot of changes in my life but the biggest has to be that I’m now working at Microsoft. To me, the decision to accept an offer from them was a no-brainer. I’ve used Microsoft products for nearly 20 years and while I have a general dislike for IE 6 & Clippy, I’ve been very happy with everything else I’ve used. In addition, Microsoft is one of the few incredibly stable companies which offers a boatload of benefits to their employees. Lastly, I was given an opportunity to continue promoting and supporting the jQuery & JavaScript community while also learning more about the Microsoft stack. It really was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and I’m so grateful for my family and friends who have been so supportive.

Week 1

I flew into Redmond to kick-off my new job by starting with new employee orientation (NEO) and then meet with the team during the rest of the week. My initial plan was to spend most of the week in Redmond and then fly over to Vegas to for Microsoft MIX. That kind of changed a little. :)

I’ve worked at several companies during my career but I’ve never been through a new employee orientation as comprehensive as what Microsoft provides. Being new to a company is always a challenge since you have to figure out the who’s, what’s and where’s of an organization. It’s tough enough to do this when you’re in a small company but when you’re part of an 100k employee behemoth, not having a formal process can make it virtually impossible to learn your way around. Thankfully, Microsoft’s NEO program is a saving grace as it runs you through important things such as benefits, corporate access, important internal assets and the value of networking. Amazingly, they do all of this within 1 day and it’s very thorough. I kept thinking how my wife, who is incredibly organized, would totally love this whole process.

During NEO, I was in a room with about 50 other new employees, which is always satisfying since it shows that the company is growing. And despite the many (mis)perceptions I hear, these new employees were just like many other professionals and not some borg-like robot. Many of them were back as rehires at Microsoft and had nothing but great things to say about their previous experiences.

Post-NEO, I was in a number of meetings getting to know many of the people I’ll work with and also networking with other teams. Networking is serious business at Microsoft and an important part of being successful there. With so many people working on many different projects, it’s incredibly important to know who is a stakeholder for specific projects. This will help narrow down whom to contact if you need some help. One of the takeaways from this is that there are an insane amount of REALLY smart people working at Microsoft. I was privy to seeing some things that made me say “wow, I didn’t know Microsoft was working on that!”. I constantly tell people not to rule Microsoft out (as so many people tend to do) and what I saw validated my thoughts completely.

In addition, I got to have some 1:1 time with my leadership team. Spending time with them helped me learn a little bit more about where their focus is and how it will help shape my role. It’s a strong team which I can learn from but also a team with high expectations.

Some people that I met that I feel will have a very important impact on my role are Scott Hanselman, Cyra Richardson, Chris Wilson and James Senior. Scott is my manager and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. He’s been attentive since day 1 looking to ensure that I’m able to be effective from the start and always asking if I need anything. He’s very interested in my success as well as ensuring I have a good work/family balance. On top of that, I’ve come to realize that he is the John Resig of the .Net world and so I couldn’t have asked for a better technical resource. Cyra has been with Microsoft for 20 years and I was amazed by her breadth of knowledge. I’m really glad that she kind of took me under her wing to show me the ropes. Her help and guidance is proving to be invaluable. I also spent time with Chris Wilson of Internet Explorer fame. Chris is a household name in the browser world and he graciously took the time to sit with me and give me an overview of what’s happening with the Internet Explorer Developer Tools. His team is doing some very important things to make debugging client-side apps much easier and I’m happy to be able to go to him for the scoop. James is the a web evangelist for Microsoft, a hot-shot developer, jQuery lover and all-around great guy. He was gracious enough to let me crash with him in Vegas and also show me the ropes at MIX.

The last thing I’ll say about the Microsoft campus is that it is HUGE! I’ve been to Google (thx Dion) and thought it was big but it pales in comparison to Microsoft. Microsoft occupies so many buildings that it has its own shuttle service to allow employees to easily travel between buildings. Seriously, you need to see it to believe it.

Week 2: Microsoft Mix

I was originally slated to fly into Las Vegas for the Microsoft MIX conference on Sunday but that changed when I was asked by Microsoft’s marketing team to leave on Friday to help shore up the messaging about of Microsoft contributing code to the jQuery JavaScript Library. Being part of the jQuery project team, they wanted my feedback to ensure that it was consistent with what the jQuery team was expecting. It was great to see how concerned Microsoft was about ensuring that their efforts were construed in the right way by the jQuery community and that the contributions were following the jQuery team’s guidelines (not their own). I think many people look at OSS contributions from Microsoft with a wary eye but in this case, I saw a genuine desire to do something for the good of the jQuery community. Had I seen anything different, I would’ve raised a red flag as the jQuery community is incredibly important to me.

The prep work for the conference itself is something to behold. I was able to go backstage to see the “control room” which consisted on racks and racks of monitors and servers, all powering either demos or some other important piece of the conference. It’s a rare view into the inner-workings of a big conference. And big it is as MIX is one of Microsoft’s two biggest developer conferences (PDC being the other). With 3,000 developers showing up, there was a lot of moving parts that needed to get in sync including 4 movie theater-sized screens that were used for the keynotes.

Having done a number of presentations over the years, I always felt the time I set aside to create my material and prepare for my presos was sufficient…that is until I saw Scott Guthrie and team getting ready for his keynote. It was 4 non-stop hours of iterations tweaking slides, changing wording, practicing delivery and getting the message just right. And this did not include the time used to actually build the slide deck! It was a very rewarding experience to hear some top executives going through this process.

The conference itself was one of the best I’ve attended. In spite of the fact that I’m not a developer versed in Microsoft technologies, the people I met were genuinely excited to talk about open web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML, & CSS and how it could help them improve their apps. The interest really had me pumped as reaching out to this specific community is part of my role. Silverlight clearly commanded most of the attention, especially with the announcement of Windows Phone 7, but there were plenty of developers that wanted to know more about jQuery & plain ole JavaScript and how they can leverage them. The announcement of IE 9 certainly helped as developers saw that Microsoft are moving forward with a more standards-compliant browser as well as a JavaScript engine that is way speedier.

To me, the highlight was hearing the announcement that Microsoft is expanding their efforts to contribute to the jQuery library. As an open source effort, one of our challenges is having enough resources to accomplish everything users want. Simply put, we never have enough people so Microsoft contributing source code to the project is so important and helpful. Seeing John Resig on stage at MIX was a great moment because it helps to validate all of the hard work the jQuery team has put into building a great JavaScript library.

Glad to be Home

It was a great trip and I met many awesome people. I’m so glad to be back home, though, spending time with my wife and children. I’m very fortunate that I’ll be able to work remotely for Microsoft and that my manager lets me decide when & where I need to travel. It’s a really great arrangement and I’m thankful for that.

Expect to see a lot more posts here about my work and life as I ramp up at Microsoft.

I want to thank John Resig, Jonathan Snook & Pascal Finette for their guidance and support. It really helped out tremendously and I appreciate it so much.

Here are photos of the trip.

Category: Microsoft

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19 Responses

  1. Awesome post Rey! Congratulations on the new gig! Great insight into the company; having @shanselman as your manager must OWN. Kick some butt up there. :D

  2. Kamran says:

    Eventually I will try my hand at applying at Microsoft. Working in the .NET or Xbox division is a future goal of mine. I already got into Microsoft Student Partners… I hope that and a combination of experience at my new employer will let me get a foot in the door.

    Thanks for this post.

    PS. Scott H is awesome, his and ScottGu’s blog are daily reads.

  3. Don Bellamy says:

    Congratulations Rey! Sounds like a great place to be.

  4. Haacked says:

    Welcome to the team! Soon you’ll learn about the dark side of Hanselman the taskmaster! ;)

    I keed, I keed.

  5. kev says:

    Awesome news, Rey. Super happy for you, and it sounds like you’ll be working with some great people on something you’re passionate about. The Xbox game discounts will make me jealous, tho. :)

  6. Hey Rey,
    Sounds like a fantastic start to your new job! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the first couple weeks. So great to have you representing jQuery there!

  7. Allen says:

    Congrats. Any change this means you’ll be making some trips to Fargo?

  8. Basil Hashem says:

    Rey, congrats on the new role. As your former manager, it’s great to hear that Microsoft has a good orientation structure – something that little ol’ Mozilla couldn’t provide :-) But I tried….

    … more importantly though it seems that you are now connected with caring people that will make it easier for you to succeed. Looking forward to hearing about all the great things coming out of your efforts. Congrats again.

    • Rey Bango says:

      Thanks so much Basil! You’re an excellent manager and while our time was short, I really appreciated how you worked hard to guide me in the right direction. I think you did a great job and it really helped me during my time at Mozilla.

  9. Rey,

    Its great to here that you got a job at Microsoft. It seems that IE 9 will be a good product in the near future. Best of luck.

  10. [...] his ego.Like a child..Like a little child going to kindergarten on the first day, I walked into the Microsoft New Employee Orientation (NEO), humbled and intimidated.  In my mind, everyone at Microsoft in the early 1990’s were technical [...]

  11. Greg Bulmash says:

    Rey,

    Thanks for writing this. My start date is 9 days away and I wanted to get an idea of what I was in for. You’ve got the #1 Google result for “Microsoft New Employee Orientation”.

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