Dhruvi Shah (she/her) is a fourth-year Science and Business student at the University of Waterloo. She recently finished an 8-month internship at Microsoft Canada from January to August 2022.
She describes how she landed the internship, her reflection on her time there and how she launched the Microsoft Sustainability Series. Dhruvi has completed five work terms:
Work term 1: Henkel, Marketing associate
Work term 2: Clio, Growth marketer
Work term 3: Flipp, Growth marketing intern
Work terms 4 & 5: Microsoft, Associate product marketing manager intern
Q&A with Dhruvi
What is Microsoft?
“Microsoft, as you may know, is a technology company founded by Bill Gates and currently led by Satya Nadella. Their global headquarters is in the United States and their Canadian headquarters is in downtown Toronto near Union Station.”
“Over my co-op term, I worked at Microsoft Canada out of their Toronto office. Microsoft Canada is responsible for Canadian operations including the go-to-market strategies, partner relations, sales and customer success. Their product marketing teams are split into Azure, Business Applications and Industry, Modern Workplace and Security, and Surface.”
What was the recruitment and application process like?
“Microsoft Canada hires about 10 students every term for four to eight months. The 8-month interns are typically hired for product marketing, public relations, partner marketing, finance, sales excellence or business sales operations. And 4-month interns are typically hired for account management, customer success or cloud solution architect.”
“In late August 2021, I cold applied for the marketing and communications co-op position through LinkedIn. The postings typically go up every four months, about 4-5 months before the start date both on external job application sites and on WaterlooWorks.”
“In early October 2021, I received an email invitation to participate in two back-to-back 45-minute interviews.”
What was the interview like?
“My interviews were conducted by product marketing managers on the Azure team.”
“During the interview, they shared more information about the role that I was selected for, the company and the team. The interviews were casual and conversational, mainly behavioural questions and some product/technology-related questions.”
“Some questions that I was asked were:
• Tell me about yourself.
• What do you think about when you hear Microsoft?
• Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize tasks.
• How would you approach onboarding and thriving in a remote/hybrid work setting?
• What are you looking to learn? Where are you hoping to be challenged and grow?
• Where do you see yourself five years from now?
• What are you most proud of?
• How do you keep yourself up to date on what's happening in technology?
• What do you know about the Cloud?
• What's the difference between using a data center vs. being on the Cloud?
• Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a peer.”
What were your main projects?
“The Azure team and I were focused on enabling more organizations across Canada to use the Azure Cloud. My projects ranged from managing a Canadian-wide Azure skilling program, developing a new industry customer journey and dashboard, as well as leading the Canadian Intern Program.”
“One of the gaps that I identified at the beginning of my term was that I was missing a creative project and I’ve always had a strong passion for sustainability. One day, I went to my manager, and said, ‘I want something creative, I love sustainability, what can we do?’ And he said to come up with a project proposal and, if it’s feasible, he’ll give me the budget to pursue a sustainability project.”
“From there, I spearheaded the Microsoft Sustainability Series where we developed a three-part video series talking about how customers can build a sustainable future using the Azure Cloud and other Microsoft products.” You can view it here: Building a Sustainable Future on the Cloud.
What did a typical day at work look like?
“The typical day of a product marketing manager intern is split into three buckets:
• Working with marketing teams for social campaigns, webinar execution, etc.
• Building go-to-market resources for sales teams.
• Working with Microsoft partners, who sell on Microsoft’s behalf and are an extension of the internal team, to provide resources and help them scale."
"All day-to-day tasks fell under one of these buckets and could range from reporting to presenting. And all days looked different depending on the project I was doing and what stages it was at.”
What was the company culture like?
"One of my favourite quotes from the CEO, Satya Nadella, is to not have a know-it-all attitude but a learn-it-all attitude. And I’ve seen many individuals in the organization truly living by those words."
"Everyone is focused on improving and bettering themselves versus being egoistic or trying to take charge, regardless of what position they had."
“Over the co-op term, I contributed to the learning culture as a co-lead of the Canadian Intern Program where I organized Lunch 'n' Learns and an Intern Day to connect full-time employees to interns helping them learn more about the company, people, culture and processes.”
What are some fun memories from the internship?
• Waking up to memes in our Azure team chat.
• Trying new drinks at the barista bar.
• Hosting Microsoft Canada Intern Day.
• Impromptu hallway convos and lunches with co-workers.
• Bi-weekly catchups with mentors.
• Company-wide events like MCAPS Start (end-of-fiscal celebration), team days, pride celebration, etc.
• Lots and lots of merch!
What has been the most challenging thing about the co-op program?
"The most challenging aspect is that every four months you’re in this loop of updating your resume and cover letter, applying for positions and preparing for interviews. That cycle can be tedious and time-consuming."
"Another thing that was a challenge, especially when I was in my earlier co-ops, was adapting to new cultures, organizations and teams at a very rapid pace. And after that, being able to deliver an impact within the 4-month period. It’s a bit difficult to mold yourself to the culture and drive impact as well in a short period of time."
What has been the highlight of your co-op terms?
"It’s been the variety of experiences that I’ve had in such a short period of time like going to different companies, exploring different products and industries."
"I got to experience working at four companies over the past two years. And that in and of itself has been so valuable and it's helped me figure out what I like and don’t like."
“I also had the pleasure of working with some of the best managers and colleagues. Again, it’s given me more clarity on things I like. I’ve also tried my best to stay in touch with past colleagues who are now more like mentors to me.”
What advice do you have for co-op students?
"I would say know what you want but also leave room for flexibility. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes the best opportunities come knocking at your door when you least expect them."
"Something that I did when I was going through my first round of co-op applications was applying to everything regardless if I was qualified for it or not. This led me down the marketing and later the product management route, which was something I never considered before my first work term."
“Also do not be discouraged if you do not land an internship at a big company in your first co-op! I’d like to think that I was a better intern at Microsoft because of all the previous co-op experiences I had. If I landed Microsoft in my first co-op, I think I would be very overwhelmed and would definitely feel imposter syndrome. So, be patient with yourself and trust that the right opportunities will come to you at the right time.”
What is next for you?
"Over the winter 2023 term, I will be wrapping up my final 4B term at Waterloo. I will be joining the Campus Housing team as a residence life don at UWP. I will also continue my role as the president of UW Marketing Association."
“After graduating in may 2023, I am hoping to travel for a few months. And late next year, I will be joining IBM’s new graduate consulting program.”