Feb 24, 2020

One Year at Microsoft


oday, I celebrate 1 year at Microsoft. What better way to look back on my first year with a large tech company than to recap here on my blog? I've been in tech now for 7 years, however, Microsoft is the first company in which I've been employed that's considered a 'big' tech company. Not to mention, this was the first time I ever worked fully remote.

A Rough Start

It's no surprise that I started with Microsoft at such a less than stellar time in my life. A few days after receiving my job offer, my boyfriend fell ill (on Valentines Day to be exact) and I spent the final week and a half of my prior job at the ICU unsure of what to expect next. I've never been a fan of death but it's been on my mind on most days ever since that week in the ICU. Fortunately, my manager understood the situation and provided much support as we waited for things to get better. Unfortunately, the trauma of all that occurred during that time ate away at me heavy during my first 6 months at Microsoft.

I wasn't as focused as I had hoped and spent entirely too much time on pins and needles wondering whether I'd receive another phone call that he was taken to the emergency room again. I'd be lying if I said that I was over it now. Not sure if anyone ever really gets over almost losing someone you love? In any case, my first 6 months at Microsoft weren't emotionally nor mentally great. If I could go back in time, I would've requested a delayed start date. Not sure if that would've made much of a difference. However, I never really gave myself the time to cope with everything. And I actually was given the opportunity to do so - I just didn't take it.

Adjusting to Remote Life

You wanna know what's great about working remote? I went a full year without the anxiety that used to build up each and every Sunday night before starting a new work week. That's probably the number one thing I share with people when asked about how its like working remote. For all of my professional working years, I've had crazy commutes. Prior to Microsoft, I had a 3 hour commute thanks to lovely LA traffic from Santa Monica to Glendale. Although moving to Hollywood reduced the drive time a bit, I still found myself staring aimlessly outside the window and relying on Waze to direct me into oncoming traffic all just to avoid becoming a sitting duck for 5 minutes at a time.

So, my commute went from 3 hours to 30 seconds. I setup my office in our second bedroom. Not sure if that was a gift or a curse. I found myself glued to that room - sometimes late into the night. Although my long commute was gone, I now faced a new problem - not knowing when to stop.

I got a better hold on it after my last Connect with my manager - he was the one who actually called me out on it. Can't say I regret working all those hours because I got a lot done. However, I have noticed a big shift in sanity now that I don't allow myself to work more than 8 hours a day. I take my 1 hour (sometimes 1.5h) lunches and also only check emails and Teams on the computer. I really used to be super digitally connected to work. But now, if I don't see it before the computer shuts down, looks like I'll check it out tomorrow.

People I Call Friends

Despite isolating myself from other humans on most days, I've managed to meet and make a lot of friends within my first year at Microsoft. And that's saying a lot given that I work from home. Fortunately, my initial role at Microsoft afforded me the ability to work with various teams. But I suppose it didn't hurt being active on Twitter, either. It's crazy how I can go to a Microsoft event nowadays and actually know a lot of people. Some people I make an extra effort to spend time with whenever they're around. Some people I can actually shoot a text message. I like this.

What I Did With All That Money

Should also come as no surprise that Microsoft has been the highest paying job I've held in my 7 years of working in tech. In fact, I actually doubled my salary from my prior job. So when I came into new money, I knew I had to get a grip on things now before landing my first couple of paychecks. I continued to donate to my preferred charitable causes. But more important, I cleared the heck out of my debt. I racked up so much crazy debt from my 20s. Some divorce, some carelessness. Fortunately, I now had the means to pay it all off while still enjoying life. Roughly around June, I got myself a financial advisor who helped me make a plan to clear my debt by January 2020. I'm honestly thankful for him. Now that that's out of the way, the next goal is to work on this 401k thing that everyone's talking about.

Found a New Love

The work I did with Docs was work I've done for a very long time with prior companies. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Emotionally, it was tough for me to leave Docs given that I actually liked my team and it was the most diverse team I've ever worked with since being in this industry. I don't think I'll ever be able to top that ever again.

However, in July, I began to fall for Spatial Computing. I began to fall for coming from behind the scenes and engaging with the dev community. I began to fall for just something new. So, I did something new. I really like the work that I'm doing as a Cloud Advocate now - however I can't judge too much given that it's only been a bit over a month since I joined the team. On some days, I feel behind because everyone else was already working in advocacy in some capacity. But I'm sometimes able to talk myself out of my funk. Not all the time though.

I still feel like I've found my forever home at Microsoft. I haven't felt an inkling of "I could do better elsewhere". And that's amazing given my track record of wanting to move on to something new after feeling like I'm not being challenged nor just simply bored. I haven't had a bored day since my first day of work on February 25, 2019. I hope things remain the way they are (or continue to get even better!).