Ever since I penned my journey, the response has been quite positive. It seems like a 3 days extended weekend which I was thinking a waste wasn’t a waste at all.
If you haven’t read the second part, please read it here – Journey of a boy from small town to Microsoft – An untold story Part 2
There were countless moments of mood swing. I already had an offer from Microsoft. I wondered if I should try for other biggies like Facebook or Google. Bottom-line was, I had fallen into procrastination trap. I was shy of 9 months to join Microsoft. I wanted to enjoy life. I wanted to take a break. My then friends at Google and Facebook had mixed suggestions.
“Dude, you should really give FB a try. I can refer you and interview would be scheduled in 2 weeks”.
“It’s time to explore. Once college is over, you are never gonna get it. This is the time to have some fun”.
Out of those precious 9 months, I spent 5 months at home doing almost nothing. Major chunk of my time was invested in only eating and chatting. When boredom seemed to kill me, I just used to compile an article on GeeksforGeeks. It was fun.
Sometimes even a simple mail gives you goosebumps. I had a message from Google recruiter mentioning my profile looked interesting and if my interest was aligned, they could commence the interview process. With the mail was attached a video covering their expectations from a candidate in Google. I thought of giving a try to Google. But my practice was at a slower pace. Writing articles and solving problems were just to kill time and pure altruistic. Google is a big brand. I definitely wanted to try my luck there. It was just not the right time. It would be a pleasure to enjoy Microsoft etiquette for the time being.
July 13, 2013
The next phase begins
A long rest had finally come to an end. Nothing could make me happier than to see a person waiting at the airport holding a placard with my name imprinted on it. He directly drove us to Rejenta One. A month stay in a 5 star hotel, dedicated car, a driver, couple of good friends and new city. Whole world around me was screaming to explore it.
July 15, 2013
First day at office, mixed feelings, exhilarating and scaring at the same time. Everyone I met seemed to be pretty smart. I got Visio team, a part of Microsoft Office div. It was embarrassing that I was going to work on something I never heard of. Visio is an enterprise software not so famous among students. It captures a huge market for clients looking forward to create flow chart and diagram. In a nutshell, it is something that simplifies tens of millions of human life.
When I had a feeling that I have learnt enough to fasten my deliverable, a reorg happened and devalued most of the things that I worked upon. As they say, only skills acquired through the process matters in the long run, skills to understand and solve a problem. New team and new manager, it was a tabula rasa. Satya’s vision to focus on mobile and services landed me in an Android team. A familiar environment and some prior experience, starting was as smooth as butter. Nightmares begun when I was assigned a problem to apply effects on an image. The office codebase is huge, medieval and it’s an ocean if you don’t know where to start. I still remember those hard moments when I was just looking through the code to pick hints, searching keywords like pImage, IImage in the hope that at least the naming convention would lead me somewhere. It was one of the most fast paced project and I was (un)lucky to be a part of it. Learning was great and sleeps were compromised. My team owned low level Graphics rendering stuffs, everything that you see on screen.
Work hard, party harder
Good work should be rewarded and celebrated. Microsoft knows it. It’s not a small thing to book airbuses for 300 people to fly to Goa and stay in one of the costliest luxury Hotel Leela not to mention heavenly parties and unlimited food and drinks. This is how we celebrated our Android release and combined it with an out bound training.
As I am writing this, another reorg has landed me in Apple team. Good thing is I have got chance to take a closer look at apple products and its OS. Some of the nasty rendering bugs still give nightmares. It becomes worse when you get response on the top of your fix mentioning that your change would be impacting X millions of customers. I have learnt that this is part of life and as long as your learning curve is steep, things would just work fine.
Life at Microsoft in a nutshell
It’s been 3 years since I joined Microsoft. 3 projects, 5 managers, lots of learning, challenges, obsession to achieve the best and never ending work. The journey has been no less than a roller coaster.
Every year or so, a reorg happens and either the project or manager changes. Every time It’s a tabula rasa. As they say, change is the only constant in life. Good thing is you always get to work on something new with new people, diversity at its best.
In office team, we spend most of the time reading code, talking design stuffs and less time writing real code that goes in production. The impact is so huge that we can’t afford critical mistakes.
Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference!
The type of work can be summarized by a very short story.
A giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure but how to fix the engine.
Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a young. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.
Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!
A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.
“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”
So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”
The man sent a bill that read:
Tapping with a hammer………………….. $ 2.00
Knowing where to tap…………………….. $ 9,998.00
There were many times I thought of a switch. The thing that always seemed to hold me was the thought that I would be doing the same kind of work that I am doing here. Besides, I am happy here, living life as I always wanted, trying out different things, exploring.
GeeksforGeeks after Microsoft
I usually get messages like, Why my contribution to GFG has slowed down. Is it because of my busy schedule?
Seriously speaking, the passion which was ballooned inside me 3 years ago has faded. Coding is not the only thing that fuels me. In my college days, I used to code for fun. Whenever I found myself struck by the boredom lightning, solving a new problem or brainstorming a better solution was the saving grace. My contribution has been greatly compromised and now if I write, my focus is more on the quality rather than quantity.
Sometimes I ask myself, what do I know except coding? Is my life all about staring at the screen and writing geeky characters? A lot of things are there in the world and you won’t know what you would like the best until you give it a try.
For the past few years, I had been wondering what my life is meant to be, what are the things out there which will render me with greatest pleasure, what is the secret ingredient of being happy.
The other side of my life which eats most of my time when I am not in office writing and debugging code, is as farthest from the geeky profile as it can be. This is a long story. And if you’ve got some free time, read What profession would I have chosen if each profession is equally valued and earns me equal salary? on a boring day while sipping a cup of coffee. I am sure you would like it.
Geek on the top
A usual week day, a mail popped up asking for my interview. It’s really weird if someone asks questions about you and your life which is going to be published on a broad scale.
The interview is published here – Geek on the top – Aashish Barnwal | Make a habit of writing clean, readable, flexible and robust code
I am still learning. I am still exploring. It’s always fun to try out new things and most importantly, find happiness in whatever you do.
Based on requests from many, I have documented the tips and tricks on cracking top MNCs. I hope it to be useful. Please find it here – How to prepare for top MNCs?
Signing off for now. Hope you enjoyed reading this. Everyone has a journey. Well this is my journey.
Copyright © 2016, Aashish Barnwal, All rights reserved.