Femi Vianana, MBA ’21, writes today about his internship—and four projects—at his “virtual” Microsoft internship. He was invited to return after graduation as a business program manager. His contribution is part of a series by students sharing their summer internship experiences on the Olin Blog.
My internship journey began a few weeks before the internship itself, amidst immense pressure and uncertainty. In the early days of the pandemic that rocked the world, there was speculation about the US government suspending all work authorization for non-citizens in a bid to protect jobs amid massive unemployment.
As an international student, that meant my entire internship with Microsoft could be cancelled as a result of such policy. Luckily for me, that never happened, and I had the full support of Olin through that tough phase.
I had always planned to brush up on some of my technical skills months before the internship to hit the ground running, but I never got around to doing that. Instead, I started my internship much earlier than most of my classmates, still feeling stressed out from a very challenging semester.
A slight bump in the road
Nonetheless, I was energized to hit the ground running once I started working. But as with many things in life, reality does not often match expectation, especially with COVID-19 ensuring a virtual experience.
Out of the gate, my work laptop shipment was delayed, finally arriving in the third week. My password didn’t work for the first three days, meaning I had no access to my emails and couldn’t really get any work done. After the hiccups of the first week, I was able to get my feet wet.
What turned out to be most surprising was the level of importance attached to the projects I was assigned. For a second, I felt I was way out of my league, but thanks to the guidance of my superb manager, I gradually embraced my role and how much value I could potentially add to the organization.
Interestingly, I was assigned to work on four projects in the 12 weeks of the internship, twice the number of projects assigned to most of the MBA interns I had the opportunity to interact with. That meant putting in a lot of hours, especially in the early stages when I was desperate to gain context.
Broad exposure to the organization
On the flip side, it also gave me exposure to a lot of teams and people across the organization, which in turn gave me the opportunity to establish connections that lasted beyond the completion of my internship.
Furthermore, the breadth of tasks involved in executing my projects—from contract reviews to financial due diligence to project management—ensured that I leaned heavily on the values-based and data-driven approach taught by Olin.
This was pivotal to my success. Every strategy employed by Microsoft was greatly rooted on their foundational values, while their approach for problem solving used data to proffer lasting solutions.
In conclusion, I had a very pleasant internship experience, not only because I got a return offer, but because my long-term career goals of building human capacity aligned with my role within Microsoft’s Worldwide Learning Org—and I’m glad that Olin had a great role to play in my story.