REflecting on my experience as an intern & Person Of Color @ Microsoft

I am a storyteller first and foremost, and I want to make people feel something regardless of their place in a company hierarchy. During my time as a content developer intern at Microsoft, I decided to write a series of articles about my own experience as a person of color at Microsoft and how I overcame emotions of impostor syndrome and made the  choice to believe in myself. It was a way that I could leverage my love of creative storytelling, but turn the camera and talk about my own experiences.

“I’m brown and female and Muslim and because of that, the word ‘engineer’ doesn’t sound quite right when it's used to describe me.”

 - From “Working at a tech company as a person of color” on LinkedIn

These articles were published on LinkedIn and Medium, and they’ve been picked up by the Career and Internship Center at the University of Washington and adapted for other platforms. Sharing my story makes me proud to represent my program, Human Centered Design and Engineering, in the process.

Ultimately, being at Microsoft was an exercise in bringing all of myself to the table, and writing these articles was an opportunity to reflect on my identity as a person of color at Microsoft and share the things I was learning through conversations with engineers, researchers, and designers at the company.

I wanted these articles to serve as an outlet for reflection and a reminder to bring all of myself to the table, while also providing a few helpful tidbits for anyone else doing an internship.

The Details

  • Team: Content Experience in the Windows and Devices Group
    • My position: Content Developer intern
    • Collaborators: Doug Kim and Ashley Walls
  • Duration: June 2017 - Sept. 2017
  • Skills: Inclusive design, UX writing, and user research

Some comments from family members, supervisors, and other friends in response to my articles! I believe that I do everything with and for my community, so reading the comments only confirms my love of writing and vulnerability.

By writing these articles, I hoped to be more intentional about codifying the things I learned during my time at Microsoft, but also have a helpful point of reference to look back on - these are stories and lessons and experiences that I can't tell after the fact, so I want to capture them when they're fresh in my mind. 

The overwhelming support that came out of these articles as phenomenal, and I'm glad that I could contribute to conversations about how we all demonstrate values of diversity and inclusion in our work.

   Creating and fostering a supportive company culture  : This article is all about how everyone contributes to a workplace where people can bring their authentic selves to work every single day.

Creating and fostering a supportive company culture: This article is all about how everyone contributes to a workplace where people can bring their authentic selves to work every single day.

   Working at a tech company as  person of color :   This was the first article that I wrote during my content publishing internship. I explain how my identity as a Pakistani Muslim woman has influenced my experience at Microsoft.

Working at a tech company as  person of colorThis was the first article that I wrote during my content publishing internship. I explain how my identity as a Pakistani Muslim woman has influenced my experience at Microsoft.

   Empowered women empowering women - Reflections on the Women Intern Signature Event :  This article is about my takeaways from the Women Intern Signature Event, and the value of seeing ostensible failures as learning opportunities.

Empowered women empowering women - Reflections on the Women Intern Signature EventThis article is about my takeaways from the Women Intern Signature Event, and the value of seeing ostensible failures as learning opportunities.

   Finding and maintaining productive side hustles :  This story is all about honoring your side hustles, which are any side projects or skills that you develop alongside your day job. Journalism is my side hustle because I've worked double time to develop these skills alongside my time as an HCDE student and job as a writing adviser - and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Finding and maintaining productive side hustles: This story is all about honoring your side hustles, which are any side projects or skills that you develop alongside your day job. Journalism is my side hustle because I've worked double time to develop these skills alongside my time as an HCDE student and job as a writing adviser - and I wouldn't have it any other way!

   Your role models are closer than you think  : This article is about how I've found empowering women of color at Microsoft and made them my mentors, and my advice for setting up meetings with people who inspire you.

Your role models are closer than you think: This article is about how I've found empowering women of color at Microsoft and made them my mentors, and my advice for setting up meetings with people who inspire you.

   Journalism and storytelling at Microsof t :  I will always be a storyteller first and foremost, which you probably know if we've met because I can talk for ~ days ~ I swear. So, I want to share a little bit about how my love of stories, either writing or hearing them, informs my approach to my internship, and how naming this identity has helped me identify the kind of work I want to do in the future.

Journalism and storytelling at Microsoft:  I will always be a storyteller first and foremost, which you probably know if we've met because I can talk for ~ days ~ I swear. So, I want to share a little bit about how my love of stories, either writing or hearing them, informs my approach to my internship, and how naming this identity has helped me identify the kind of work I want to do in the future.

   I'm an interest changer - and I'm proud of it  : This time last year, I was a Public Health and Biochemistry double major on the pre-med track. I was supposed to kill the MCAT / write a beautifully crafted personal statement about resilience and empathy in medicine / have my sights set on an MD/MPH program that would give me career fulfillment - but that's not exactly how it happened. Read on to learn about how I identified my impostor syndrome and made the switch from pre-med to pursuing Human Centered Design and Engineering, and how I'm engineering a path to a career (and life) that I love every single day.

I'm an interest changer - and I'm proud of it: This time last year, I was a Public Health and Biochemistry double major on the pre-med track. I was supposed to kill the MCAT / write a beautifully crafted personal statement about resilience and empathy in medicine / have my sights set on an MD/MPH program that would give me career fulfillment - but that's not exactly how it happened. Read on to learn about how I identified my impostor syndrome and made the switch from pre-med to pursuing Human Centered Design and Engineering, and how I'm engineering a path to a career (and life) that I love every single day.

   Lessons learned from my time as a Microsoft intern  : This article summarizes some of the lessons learned during my time as a Microsoft intern thanks to all of the designers, engineers, and content strategists I met who were willing to spend their time chatting with me. 

Lessons learned from my time as a Microsoft intern: This article summarizes some of the lessons learned during my time as a Microsoft intern thanks to all of the designers, engineers, and content strategists I met who were willing to spend their time chatting with me. 

A FINAL WORD

Interning at Microsoft has taught me more than I could have ever imagined - I was a little bit nervous to jump into a big tech company after being fresh off my acceptance into Human Centered Design and Engineering, so I knew that I wasn't the most tech-savvy person in existence and I don't even have a PC anymore– but maybe my mom and my supervisor and adviser and friends were all onto something for believing in me because I've got the Microsoft badge to prove that I was worth taking a chance on.

I'm here and I'm brown and Muslim and a woman, and I deserve to be at the table with the best of 'em (in reference to all the software developers and UX designers and content strategists). 

Other Projects | User Research @ CLUE | UX Writing & Research @ Microsoft | Newspaper Editing @ The Daily of the University of Washington | Feature Writing at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering | Social Media @ SMAHRT