|Q: How did life take you to Microsoft? (When, how, why, by accident, on purpose?? Etc.)
A: First in April 2008 by applying for a contracting position in order to start a new career path, and then again June 2013 when my friend in XBOX mentioned my interest in being part of the new XBOX One to the test lead who subsequently reached out to me and is now my manager.
Before computers were “cool,” there was one company that represented the most advanced and respected name in the software industry: Microsoft. Back then, people didn’t know how to turn on a computer, much less save a Word document. 14.4kbps internet was “AWESOME” even though nobody knew what an email is. Scorched Earth, Sim City, and Duke Nukem were “INCREDIBLE” PC gaming. It was cool to make mixed tapes to listen to on a Walkman. Oh, and Microsoft employees turned millionaires were a common occurrence. There was no doubt in my mind that if I ever became a programmer, Microsoft is the place to be. This is why when God told me to find a new job in the software industry, I replied with “Ok, then help me get a job at Microsoft.”
Initially I applied for a few dozen jobs at the Microsoft careers site that I felt I might be able to do. I did not hear back from any of them. Sometime later, one of my best friends from HS told me about his job at Microsoft as an SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test) and encouraged me to try being a contractor. I went on a couple of contractor interviews, failed them, read more books on what it means to be a software tester, and went on more interviews until I was eventually hired as an SDET contractor and began my career in the software industry.
Although I did well at my job, learned and executed virtually everything thrown at me with excellence, and far exceeded the expectations set out for me, I lacked knowledge on how to grow and succeed in the software industry. I knew I wanted to be a full-time employee (FTE) but I kept failing FTE interview loops at Microsoft. After a couple of years contracting at Microsoft, I realized that I need to gain more skills and broader experience in the software industry to be successful at Microsoft. Subsequently, I sought full-time employment at various other software companies.
Around mid-2012, I suddenly realized that the next version of XBOX was likely already well in progress and that I would like to be part of the next XBOX launch. At the time, XBOX One was not yet publically announced so I was not in a rush to join XBOX, especially because I was finishing law school and looking forward to my younger son’s birth. However, in preparation for a possible eventuality, my family started praying together with me for an FTE job in XBOX and I started asking my friends in XBOX to keep me in mind for new opportunities in their team.
When the XBOX One was announced in May 2013, I thought the opportunity has passed me by. Although we continued to pray for an FTE job in XBOX anyway, I began exploring internal opportunities within Amazon. I was actually in CA for an interview with an awesome super-secret project at Amazon when I received an email inviting me to interview with the XBOX SmartGlass team. I was pleasantly surprised and immediately accepted.
Through a series of events, both the super-secret team at Amazon and XBOX SmartGlass ended up giving me their formal offer on the same day. I had three excellent, but difficult, options to choose from at that time: 1) stay in Kindle where I received an excellent annual review and was poised to grow even more in my career, 2) accept the offer from the super-secret team to build and lead a team from scratch to test and develop an entirely new product line, or 3) follow my passion for video games and join the XBOX SmartGlass team and be part of the XBOX One launch.
Over the years, I have become accustomed to God providing me alternatives to things that I ask for in prayer, as if asking “are you really sure you want what you’re asking for?” This was one of those times where I wasn’t sure what choice would be best for my career in the long term. When I asked God which path He recommends for my long-term career, He basically told me that although my life will be affected differently depending on the choice I make in the short term, He will bless me in whichever path such that I will be successful in my career in the long term anyway. In other words, God told me it’s my choice, and I chose to go with the one I’m most passionate about: being in XBOX.
Soapbox message: When it comes to forks in life, look not only to the immediate but also to the future. The problem, though, I have observed that what I think I want now is not necessarily what will be best path for me in the future. Over the years I have learned to listen and follow God’s recommended path for me and have enjoyed incredible blessings. How would you go about determining what path to take?