Microsoft recruiters have developed a visible presence at the University of Virginia in recent years. This year, the computing giant has hired a record number of U.Va. engineering students as interns and as full-time employees.
“They told us that they love U.Va. students,” said Frances Hersey, associate director of the Center for Engineering Career Development. “They find our students better prepared than many of the other universities where they recruit.”
U.Va. students “hit the ground running and fit well into the culture, and Microsoft has shared with us that our students’ knowledge and understanding of analytical and technical tools, coupled with their strong teamwork and project experience, makes them really stand out,” she said.
Microsoft was on Grounds for numerous events in the fall, including a resume review marathon, fall career fair, interviews and a tech talk. Microsoft recruiters also participated in two new events: an “interview prep session” the evening before a day of interviews and a “coding challenge” in October in which teams of three or four students worked on a series of problems.
Microsoft recruiters look for strong technical skills, intellectual curiosity and creative thinking among other attributes, Microsoft recruiter Healy Oleinik said.
In first-round interviews, students meet with a Microsoft engineer on campus; if offered a second-round interview, students fly to a Microsoft locations such as the Redmond, Washington headquarters or regional facilities in Raleigh, North Carolina; Fargo, North Dakota; or Cambridge, Massachusetts.
One recent U.Va. hire is Sachin Tewari. A 2014 graduate in systems engineering, Tewari first applied to Microsoft at a career fair and spent the summer of 2013 in Redmond in the Microsoft Academy for College Hires program, working on a forecast and budgeting tool and on cloud migration. He was impressed by the work climate, pay and benefits, as well as learning and career-growth opportunities.
After graduating in May, he moved to Redmond and began his full-time job at Microsoft in July.
“Microsoft really allows individuals from diverse backgrounds to come together as one big team to drive innovation and value in this world,” Tewari said. “We’re doing work that really matters.”
Microsoft was among more than 100 registrants for this fall’s Engineering Career Fair – almost double the number from a year ago, said Peggy Reed, employer relations manager of the Center for Engineering Career Development.
“I think part of that is the aging Boomer population, the number of people retiring and leaving industry, [which] means they have to fill many positions,” she said. “They look to particular schools, and U.Va. is one of them.”
More than 150 companies and 2,000 students participated in the fall 2014 career fair. Among the new companies who participated were the FBI, HBO, NanoSatisfi, PowerPlan and Continental. Already, 90 companies are registered for the spring career fair, scheduled for Feb. 3 and 4.