Career advice for 2014 college graduates

Xbox SDE, Melody, shares tips to find the right role

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Are you getting ready to graduate? Congratulations! As you anticipate that special day of cap, gown and hard-earned diploma, you probably also want to learn how to find a job where you will work with cool people and technologies and have the chance to make an impact.

To get you there, we talked with Melody Bolton, who shared her path to Microsoft. She’s a 2013 grad, but Melody has already gotten immersed in some of the hottest technologies around, in her role as a software development engineer (SDE) on the launch of Xbox One. As she tells it:

“My biggest joy of working on the Xbox One was the variety of things I had the opportunity to work on. I was excited to work on code related to Kinect gesture and voice commands, because it was completely different from anything I had ever worked on before. I also had the opportunity to provide voice-recognition data for the Xbox One by recording my voice, repeating tons of browsing commands. That was fairly embarrassing, but it was really cool to do!”

Melody got a running start on life after college. Here are her top tips to find a role that’s a great fit:

Prioritize.

“Before you start looking for jobs, get familiar with the target company’s goals and values. Build a resume tailored to each desired company.”

Apply early.

“If you have a job lined up before graduating, it makes everything way less stressful and you can just focus on finishing up school! Apply way in advance (October or November if possible).”

What to put on your resume:

  • “Include technical languages that you are familiar or experienced with (noting the difference) and any projects related to technical work, internships, or gaming.
  • Highlight your individual contribution to each project in one or two action-oriented sentences.
  • Projects are important to include on your resume because they display your enthusiasm and skill-set for gaming or technical work. It is a huge bonus if your gaming projects were completed outside of the classroom or work environment.”

How to prepare for interviews:

“Beforehand, write down why you would want to work for the company and why you are passionate about that type of work. If you are struggling to think of answers, it is not a good sign that you would want to work there.”

How to turn your passion for gaming into a career:

“Gaming is great, but there is a difference between wanting to develop for games and wanting to play games. Enthusiasm to make games on your own is key to showing that you are serious about a career in gaming. If you are hesitant about where to start, try participating in Global Game Jam (which takes place on January 24-26th, 2014).”

How to consider job offers:

“Think about what is best for you. It is great to seek support and advice from loved ones, but ultimately the decision has to be your own. Learn more about the target company’s values and try to get in touch with people who work for the company to learn more about the type of environment or team structure you would be joining. A lot of work happiness comes from the work environment itself, so a bad fit can cause you a lot of stress.”

Now, for serious fun: What games are you excited to play this year?

“I am looking forward to Watch Dogs, because I loved the original game in the series. One cool aspect of the Xbox One is having time-limited special achievements. I already foresee myself going overboard on achievement hunting, so I am trying to hold off on that as long as possible.”

 

How new-grad Melody arrived at Microsoft

Why Matthew, an Apple fan and Xbox/NUI PM, chose Microsoft

An Xbox intern says why coding can’t be your only asset

But you need to know: How to prepare for a programming interview

 

Secure your job before graduation. Start here at the Microsoft Careers website.

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