For many students, securing a job at a well-known company before you have even graduated is a dream come true. Current Microsoft employee, Sharon Lee, shares her experiences as a student at the iSchool and how she was led to her career.
Originally from Boston, Lee was initially accepted into Syracuse University as a dual-major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Lee felt that she didn’t find her place within these schools and had started to feel homesick. After a friend that was enrolled in the iSchool recommended that she take an iSchool course, Lee discovered an interest in technology. The intersection between business and technology available at the iSchool was what drew her to it. This convinced her to transfer into the iSchool as an Information Management and Technology major in her sophomore year.
“When I first started at Syracuse, there was a very strong urge for me to want to transfer out because I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” said Lee. “I feel a big part of that is knowing what you want to do with your career and major. While I was enrolled as a dual major for arts and sciences and engineering, I felt like I didn’t get the same type of tight-knit support that I got from the iSchool. That was really what I was seeking to build and find my footing at Syracuse.”
During her time at the iSchool, Lee was involved in a variety of student organizations and attributes a lot of the skills she learned to these groups at Syracuse as well as experiences offered at the iSchool. As an undergraduate student, Lee was involved with the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Planning Committee, Asian Students In America, Hong Kong Cultural Organization, The Council on Diversity and Inclusion, BeIT, and the National Residence Hall Honorary. As a graduate student, she participated in the Graduate Student Organization, iSchool Graduate Student Organization, and Women In Technology.
“While the coursework was great and it taught me a lot, what really stood out and what made the difference was the experiences that the iSchool offers,” said Lee. “Particularly with Spring Break in Silicon Valley and the Euro Tech Trip. It gives students the option to really understand how their major applies to a career and what type of work they could be doing. That is what made the iSchool so unique and so special and why I enjoyed it so much.”
Lee highly recommends the Spring Break in Silicon Valley trip to students who are interested in what experiences the iSchool has to offer. On the trip, Lee got to network with 20 companies over a seven day period. Companies ranged from start-ups to well-known companies such as Google. Students were also able to connect with alumni from the various companies and start to build their network and professional relationships.
“It helped us build relationships with alumni,” said Lee. “One of the things that as a student we find challenging is creating those relationships through cold emails or out of the blue LinkedIn messages. Having that bridge and creating that relationship on a common ground on a trip like this made it so much easier for us to start those conversations.”
Lee was initially introduced to Microsoft during her time on the Spring Break to Silicon Valley trip. During her fall semester in graduate school, Lee was reached out to by a Microsoft recruiter to see if she would be interested in their program that hires students right after graduation. Lee was accepted into the program and joined Microsoft after graduation as a Support Escalation Engineer. As a Support Escalation Engineer, she worked closely with customers and was able to bring unique perspectives as a fresh graduate.
Lee has now been with Microsoft for seven years. Today, Lee is a Product Manager responsible for authoring experiences in SharePoint pages with a focus on web parts. Her favorite part of her job is the people that she works with and cites the supportive environment as a reason she has stayed at Microsoft for so long.
“Just saying I work at a company that cares about its people and what we do makes me proud. Prior to my current position, I was working on the accessibility space and a lot of that work was focused on being inclusive of our users, and that started with the design experience. Being able to see that aspect of Microsoft, not only trying to be inclusive of our workers but also our design and products, makes me excited and proud to be at a company that is this big and still cares about those things.”
Lee recommends that current students make the most of the opportunities that are offered to them at the iSchool. As a first generation college student, Lee commented that her parents encouraged her to get good grades and focus on academics, but she wasn’t aware of what else was available to her as a student.
“There is something unique about the iSchool that I truly appreciate and I encourage students to take advantage of opportunities while they are there,” said Lee.