Pros: the people, flexible work hours, remote from home work days, free sodas, coffee, and tea
Cons: inconsistent work - as a contractor the waits between jobs can be too long
A typical day started off with reviewing, sorting, and when needed - respond to over-night emails. In addition to team and company correspondence, they also consisted of automation test results and testing done over-seas. Next, I would review my bugs in the database to see what needed follow-up on for that day. In my last position, we would have a daily – more... scrum to sync up with all our teammates on where we all were in our tasks and goals for the project. This is also where we would make agile decisions on our workforce and re-assign folks or create new tasks to help keep the project on track for its determined release date.
Before working at Microsoft, I was a video editor and award winning 3D animator. However, I didn't know very much about software development - just how to manipulate it to get my work done. Working at Microsoft, I learned on the job about how to perform software testing - specifically manual UI. In addition, I picked up a lot of general information on the use of Microsoft products and devices. I also learned a lot about corporate networking. Because I served on many teams, I got to understand on a deep level the following products: My Sync II, Point of Sale OS, Hyper-V, Zune, IE, and CE OS and many portable devices over the years.
Microsoft is a big company, so my experience won't represent the company so much as just a small part of it that I worked with. My managers were all great and very helpful. Because I started after the company had matured, the managers were very good about work/life expectations. That made it a very safe environment to work in. They all were hands-off management style - no micro-management. I flourish when left alone to solve issues on my own and they knew to mange me that way.
I loved working with my co-workers. We were all very curious people and driven to get our jobs done. Now, this varies from person to person, but I found a wide range of people to learn from and later to help each day.
The hardest part of the job was the commute each day - lots of traffic. However, they allowed for flexible work hours which eased this most of the time. One other thing, when I was working there full-time, I found great waste in the tasks needed for the one-on-one meetings with my manager. The tasks were rarely looked at before rankings were set and yet that was the reason for the tasks. I found it a great waste of time. It was forced into the work that was needed to get done - which got in the way. When, in fact if the managers had a better understanding of how to better integrate this process - I wouldn't have wasted so much time. Coming from a background where I was pumping out TV commercials on a very strict deadline - I found the one-on-one process a huge waste of time. However, I do recognize the need to generate some sort of measurable results for employee reviews - this just didn't work well for me. I was used to my end product representing my usefulness, not side tasks. Fortunately, this last year they modified/dropped this practice. I don't know what replaced it - that was being still worked out before my contract ended. In the end, I found doing contract work there a better fit.
Innovation and the people were my most enjoyable parts of my job. It was fun to be a part of the process to develop new solutions for people's needs and the sharing of that experience with my co-workers. It was also a great environment to learn in - it was encouraged. Another side benefit was the global exposure to other people from around the world - I loved that. – less