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Three HBCU Grads Taking it Tech at Microsoft (940 hits)

To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Leading up to graduation, I knew how important the next few months of my life would be. It seemed like every upcoming decision had major implications on how my career would begin...this was nothing to be taken lightly. As I evaluated my potential employment opportunities, I started to look at the details of what actually mattered the most to me in terms of career and personal development.

Career: I knew I wanted to work for a company whose mission truly stuck with me, created a culture of diversity and inclusion and would provide me with the support to make an impact outside my statement of work.

Personal Development: I knew I wanted to be in an environment where I could continue to build my skill-set, learn from others and use my network to help mold me into a more valuable asset.

With each of these things in mind, I eventually narrowed down my list to one clear cut winner… Microsoft. Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. There was just something different about their mission that motivated me from the day I received my offer. As a first-generation college graduate, this was a big accomplishment.

Consider more than JUST the job when evaluating companies. Look at the company’s strategy, opportunity for growth and environment.

Shortly after accepting my offer, more good news came that help re-assure my milestone decision. I found out that two of my closest friends would also be joining Microsoft in the same organization, Brian Oulds as a college hire and Brandon Harris as an industry hire from Boeing. Three best-friends, HBCU grads, same fraternity, same company and same city. How ironic is that?!

Prior to moving and starting our lives on the West Coast, Brian and myself wanted to leverage as many learnings as we could from Brandon since he's lived in Seattle for a few years now. I’ve always believed in learning from others to minimize mistakes going forward. As a group, we decided it would be smart to rent a house together in order to save money, pay off student loans, make investments, and ultimately learn and grow together.

Having a good core group of like-minded friends, we used our experiences to help mold and shape the way we do things everyday. Our strength as roommates has been making sure we hold each other accountable. Whether it's reaching a goal in the gym or finishing a project, we make sure we don’t slack off. Everyday we take each others learnings to help each other to succeed in the company and in life.

Every young professional should set financial goals upon beginning their career.

Although myself, Brian and Brandon work in Microsoft’s supply chain, our job roles are all completely different. Brian is a New Product Introduction Program Manager, leading the manufacturing of off-the-wall ideas into a real hardware device our consumers can use. Brandon is a Strategic Sourcing Manager, in charge of end-to-end cost and quality management of our hardware devices. I am a Channel Operations Manager, delivering hardware devices from our distribution centers to top retailers in the US. With Microsoft’s supply chain being so large and fast paced, it helps to have each other in different areas of the business so we can understand how every decision impacts the rest of the organization. Initially, it can seem very overwhelming digesting so much information at once, but it really teaches you how to critically think, problem solve and most importantly get the job done.

Microsoft offers plenty of opportunities for their employees that will allow you to grow and gain great exposure. As a part of Microsoft’s #OutsideIn speaker series, we were able to meet Gabrielle Union after listening to her share her story on becoming your authentic self. Her perspective on how culture, race and s*xuality play apart in today’s society was truly inspiring.

In an effort to continue giving back, Brandon became a member of our organization's recruiting team, which is a huge milestone. We take pride in bringing top candidates from our Alma Mater to show the Tech Industry that North Carolina A&T produces great talent.

Throughout college, we were all actively involved through our Fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.), student organizations, and the community. In order to continue making an impact as we did on campus, it was only right for us to get involved with volunteering opportunities within our organizations. Microsoft is big on doing extracurricular activities to help make an impact in our community. Brian, Brandon and myself made it a point to get involved early and often with volunteer efforts. It's a part of our culture, and one more way we live our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Working for a company whose values align with yours is truly a blessing.

Get involved with different opportunities within your company that align with your personal goals, missions and values.

At Microsoft we are a family of individuals working together, building on each other’s ideas and collaborating to bring the best of Microsoft to our customers and the world. Starting this journey with Brandon and Brian has truly allowed me to grow and better understand the world we live in. We use each other as resources, sounding boards and confidantes as we are all walking similar paths, looking for the next fork in the road.

I hope this post gave you a taste of what it’s like working at one of the top companies in the world. I am forever thankful to be a part of such a great organization and having a platform to share my learnings.

Jeffron Q. Smalls
Posted By: Will Moss
Sunday, December 10th 2017 at 5:51PM
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