1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
As a Customer Program Manager, my role ensures our small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are happy with us and the support they receive. Some of my daily tasks include engaging in focus groups with the SMBs to understand more about them and what can we do differently. For example, asking if our communication is too technical or not relevant to them and how we can improve the way we communicate with them. I am responsible for all internal communications in the team and to make sure they are all aware of news, events and insights like sales numbers.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
One of the biggest skills I have learnt since starting my second apprenticeship has been the importance of project management. Prior to my new role and within the first couple of months into my apprenticeship, I began falling behind on deadlines and forgetting items that needed to be completed because I did not plan ahead nor record items down. After completing an Insights Discovery Day I learnt more about myself including best ways I could have a growth mindset and create a brand within my team.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I love working with my team. Although my team consist of only 5 people (myself included), it means we have to work and rely on each other on a regular basis which strengthens our connection and brings us more together. The culture at Microsoft is phenomenal, as an apprentice you are treated exactly the same as anyone else which includes the ability to work from home and have flexible working hours. My expectations from the first apprenticeship have been enhanced as although I have worked here for 3 years, I thought the treatment would change starting my second apprenticeship. Only at Microsoft can you be proud and feel empowered to achieve more!
4. How valued do you feel by Microsoft?
I feel incredibly valued by Microsoft both internally and externally. My team can assign me tasks with confidence knowing I will complete it to the best of my ability as well as thinking outside the box. Appreciation from my manager is rare at this moment in time, however, I believe this is due to not having enough time to review the work I am performing.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My program is fairly structured in the sense of being allowed to have one day a week purely focused on the degree apprenticeship coursework and not worrying about work. As part of my personal development plan, I have asked for a couple of employees to mentor me throughout my apprenticeship to ensure that I have done all that I can to create a brand for myself and put me in a good position if I wanted to apply for a role within the team.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
There is very little structure with the training provider which impacts on the quality of work produced. I have contacted the university several times since I have started a problem that needed to be resolved which will impact on coursework submission. This problem was rectified less than 12 hours before the coursework deadline - 4 months after I raised the issue. Although the Tutors are helpful on webinars and offline, the content discussed on campus doesn't relate to the work we have to complete which creates confusions for us and stops us from complete our work.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I receive so much support from everyone at Microsoft from my manager to HR even my mentors. Every 6 months we are asked to complete a reflection assessment called a 'connect' to help us learn from our experiences and how we can improve other the next period of the year. As soon as I started the new role I wanted to complete a Connect in order to find out what my previous manager's feedback was and what can I do differently in my new role to have a growth mindset.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The apprentice wages across the board a very low but I believe Microsoft offer a very competitive salary. Unfortunately, I live 62 miles away at Gatwick Airport because my partner is Cabin Crew which mean I spend an average £100 on commuting each week (excluding travelling via London) I wih
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
As Microsoft has a huge brand all over the world there are so many opportunities to complete activities outside of work. We fundraise money for local charities including Guide Dogs UK as well as encourage to spend at least one day a year making a difference to the community. When I am not working, I participant in the charity teams fundraising for homeless shelters in Reading.
9. Would you recommend Microsoft to a friend?
Choosing an apprenticeship with Microsoft has been the best decision of my life. Since September 2015, I have had incredible experiences including demonstrating the future technology to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom with the presence of our Cheif Legal Officer, Brad Smith and arranging an event that will be hosted by our Cheif Executive Officer, Satya Nadella. We live in a world where you need the experience to get a job but to gain experience you need a job - with Microsoft, you gain both at the same time.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Microsoft?
When applying for Microsoft be honest and be yourself, we match our apprenticeship to you not the other way round. If you say you don't like a subject or not keen or a particular area we wont put you in a job role where you will be doing that item. At the assessment centre, it could be your only chance of getting into Microsoft so make it a rememberable experience (for the best) ask loads of questions and gain insight into employees job titles, roles and responsibilities. Showing that initiative goes a long way