Today marks one year since I started my nerve racking but amazing journey to join a company I have always wanted to work for, Microsoft. The past 365 days as an Azure Technical Trainer have been one of the most interesting and exciting times of my career and I thought it would be a good idea to share my journey in the hope it helps others.
Prior to joining Microsoft, thinking about leaving a company I had worked at for over 15 years was not easy for a number of reasons. I had grown in this company and had been offered many promotions which I will always be grateful for. I was fortunate to have great managers in my career who were always supportive and helpful. However, at times I did want to move on to a new challenge, and the thought of applying for a job role at a different company was filtered from my mind after talking to myself. My thoughts were,
1. “I am not good enough to work for the largest IT company in the world, Microsoft. I should remove this thought from my mind right now”
2. “I am not good enough to work at any other company, I need to learn more”
3. “If I was to apply and be offered a job at a different company, and luckily made the interview stages, it would most likely be by luck and not my capability”
4. “What would other employees within the company think of me if I asked for help, would they think I am stupid”
I continued with these thoughts for a long time, always doubting myself until I started to get involved in the technical community on Twitter. Yes, there is a great and helpful community of people on Twitter who are always sharing knowledge via tweets, blog posts, YouTube videos and live virtual events.
I’ve always had a passion for sharing knowledge and have been tech blogging since 2008. I also enjoy sharing technical knowledge with colleagues in whatever way I could. After becoming more active on Twitter, I decided to launch a new website AzureCrazy.com. Check out the site for further details. I also co-founded a virtual user group with a few friends from the technical community. The aim of the group is to share technical knowledge for free via live monthly virtual events.
Whilst involved in the tech community, I discovered a couple of words I had never heard of, imposter syndrome. A number of people on Twitter would mention these words, and after learning what these words meant, I realised that I was not the only one who self doubted myself. There were others who thought the same about themselves including a number of people I followed on Twitter who were credible and knew their stuff when it came to tech. Knowing that I was not the only one who self doubted I started to research further.
Before I move on, you may want to know what imposter syndrome is. Below is a brief explanation from WikiPedia
Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve all they have achieved.
If you wish to learn more about imposter syndrome and how to try and overcome this, I would recommend watching the below recorded session by Lisa Clark – Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with the 5 Rs.
As per the knowledge I gained about Imposter Syndrome from the video above and a number of posts I had read online, I started to be open about what I thought by sharing with a couple of friends/colleagues. I was looking for assurance and the responses were surprising! They were supportive and assured me that I was good at what I did, however the surprising part was they also went through similar thoughts, self doubting themselves and said they were embarrassed to share their feelings. They were shocked to hear that I felt the same way.
I started to be a lot more open and talk about what I thought instead of holding the thoughts in my mind. I eventually started to think about whether it was possible for me to work for Microsoft and that thought I had archived away in my brain was brought back in to the open. Having a passion for learning and sharing knowledge, there was a job spec advertised on the Microsoft careers website that attracted me, an Azure Technical Trainer, which involved training Microsoft customers from around the world on Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure. If you didn’t check my website earlier, you now know where AzureCrazy.com came from. I enjoy working with Azure. 🙂
I shared the thought of working for Microsoft with my family and I recall my 12 year old son saying “daddy, go for it, you can do it”, followed by my daughter saying, “you are really passionate about IT, you should go for it”. My wife would always convince me that I work really hard, however, there was that moment when I thought, my family will always see me as their hero whether I was good or not. I recall sharing my thoughts with my brothers whilst we went out for a drive who encouraged me to apply for the role at Microsoft.
I reached out to a Microsoft employee (now colleague) who was an Azure Technical Trainer at Microsoft so I could find out some details about the role. We had been following each other on Twitter for some time. He was amazing, he answered my questions and concerns and said “Imran, you would be great for this role”. He also mentioned that he would be more than happy to refer me for the role. Those words coming from an experienced and knowledgeable Azure Technical Trainer boosted my confidence further. “Could I do this” and “why would he refer me for the role if he did not believe in me”.
I went through hours of preparation and research and finally decided to apply for the role at Microsoft a week or so later.
I was excited when I was offered a virtual interview over Microsoft Teams due to Covid restrictions at the time. The interviewers were amazing and made me feel really comfortable. I successfully got through the first interview, was offered a second interview and then a third. My excitement levels were at a high, however, deep down I thought this would be it, there was no chance I would be accepted for a role at my dream company, Microsoft. I assured myself that I had been offered the opportunity of three amazing interviews at Microsoft and had built up the confidence to finally apply for the role which was an achievement. If I was to rejected for the role, I would take away the experience and try again.
A few days later, a phone call with a job offer. A moment I will never forget! I froze for a minute when I was informed I had been offered the job. Now, a nervous three months wait before I would join Microsoft.
The date had arrived when I started my first day at Microsoft. I received a warm welcome and found that employees at Microsoft were passionate, hard working and willing to help a newbie like me feel comfortable and settle into the team. This definitely reduced the nerves, knowing that I could ask for help without any hesitation and anyone questioning me. Microsoft encourage that you ask for help when needed which allows you to learn and grow. In fact, one of the six cultural values at Microsoft is Growth Mindset.
I have listed the six Microsoft cultural values below,
- Growth Mindset. True learners who can acquire new skills rapidly and connect with others to help bring big ideas to life.
- Diverse & Inclusive. Being open to learning about your own biases and changing behaviors accordingly. Value differences, seek them out, and invite them in.
- One Microsoft. Actively seeks collaboration with others and looks for common ground across differences, contributes to and builds on success of others, and prioritizes for customer and team within their role.
- Customer Obsession. The ability to learn about customers’ perspectives, show empathy to their experiences, and incorporate these insights into their decisions and deliverables.
- Values. When we come together, we treat each other with respect, we act with integrity, and we are accountable to one another for our words and actions.
- Manager Expectations. Our Managers help bring our culture to life. As they model, coach, and care, they help reinforce our culture and create the environment where everyone can do their best work.
Like with any job, the first few months was stressful but fun, learning about the company, internal training and preparing to deliver my first course. Microsoft provide a generous 3 months for onboarding and I was able to contact my amazing colleagues including my Manager if I had questions.
The culture at Microsoft is amazing, I get the opportunity to work with people who are passionate about Microsoft technologies and give it their 100% when delivering training to our customers. One of the greatest parts of being an Azure Technical Trainer, we’re always learning and get the opportunity to share that knowledge with Microsoft customers from the world, who use the knowledge to become certified and make a difference in their daily job roles. It means a lot knowing that I can make a difference and continue to be part of Microsoft’s corporate mission “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
Thank you very much for reading this post and I hope that it was of use to you. Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions, or reach out to me directly via Twitter or LinkedIn.
Before you contact me with your questions, I have posted a number of questions (FAQ’s) below that I was asked prior to and after joining Microsoft. If your question is not documented, please feel free to get in touch. I will try my best to answer as long as it is feasible for me to do so.
FAQ – Prior to starting at Microsoft
Are you nervous about moving to Microsoft?
Absolutely, I am very excited about moving to Microsoft and also nervous. You’ll find that most people you speak to will be nervous when moving to a new role. If you’re feeling nervous, speak about it to family, friends and colleagues. It’s ok to be nervous and is common when starting a new journey. You’re not alone.
How did you apply for a role at Microsoft?
Microsoft advertise thousands of job roles via the Microsoft Careers Website.
When applying for a role at Microsoft, my advice is to be yourself and honest when attending the interviews. Make sure you prepare and do your research. Visit the following Microsoft link for interview tips, Interview tips for all roles.
What do Microsoft look for in an individual?
As a start, I would recommend visiting the following page Microsoft Cultural Attributes. Microsoft provide a great amount of information which will assist you with preparing for your interview. If you have a passion for learning, that’s a great start. Be yourself when you go for the interview.
If you know someone who works for Microsoft, reach out.
I would love to apply for a job at Microsoft, but I feel that I am not good enough. Did you feel the same?
Yes, as mentioned in the post above, I did. Having successfully gone through the interview process and offered the role, I still feel the same and I don’t think that feeling will go away. Check out the video I posted above by Lisa Clark if not already done so.
How many interview rounds did you go through?
Three interview rounds on separate days, with the third interview involving a presentation. The interviewers were amazing, friendly and wanted me to succeed, there were no trick questions. If you’re successful in the first interview, Microsoft will invite you for the next interview round and so on.
Were the interviews in person or virtual?
Due to Covid restrictions at the time, the interviews took place virtually over Microsoft Teams.
Were Microsoft ok waiting for you to complete your notice period?
Yes, my notice period with my former employer was 3 months and Microsoft had no issues with this.
How do I become an Azure Technical Trainer?
I would recommend you read this interview by Peter De Tender on the Azure Crazy website.
Peter De Tender Interview | (azurecrazy.com)
Did blogging and the part you play within the technical community help with your interview?
This was an interesting question and got me thinking for a minute, I then responded, yes.
I was able to provide a number of answers to the interviewers related to the content I create outside of work, for example, technical blogging, the AzureCrazy.com website I launched in the year 2020 and virtual user group I co-founded with 3 friends.
I originally started blogging IT fixes in the year 2008, however, the motive behind blogging was never for the purpose of impressing a potential employer. Sharing knowledge via a blog, YouTube, user groups and so on, could say a lot about you to a potential employer so it will definitely help.
FAQ – After joining Microsoft
Do you still doubt yourself?
Yes, I don’t think those thoughts will ever go away. What’s important is how we control imposter syndrome. At Microsoft we can freely talk about such thoughts and will receive a supportive response.
Do you still get nervous now that you have joined Microsoft?
yes, I get nervous prior to commencing a course delivery on a Monday morning. A colleague said to me that it’s ok to be nervous. The day he stops getting nervous is the day he needs to find a new job as the passion won’t be there anymore. I agree 🙂
Any regrets joining Microsoft?
Not at all. It was a great move. I sometimes forget that I am working for Microsoft.
Are there opportunities to move roles in Microsoft?
Yes! Microsoft encourage this. Managers are very supportive if an employee wishes to move roles within Microsoft.
Do Microsoft allow you to continue blogging and sharing knowledge?
Are you provided with time to learn new skills and certifications?
Yes, a great part of the job. Always learning and sharing. Microsoft provide us time to learn and grow.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions.
Believe in yourself