Last May, we spotted Amy Lin, a Program Manager with Excel Services, a technology that allows you to use, share and manage Excel workbooks online. For today’s Microspotting Rewind, we wanted to share Amy’s story with you again.
The ‘Softie in question: Amy Lin
The job title: Program Manager for Excel Services. I work on Excel in the Cloud. The Program Manager role is much more multi-faceted than it sounds. We’re at the intersection of project managers, designers and customer champions!
You’re in your early 20s and you’re a Program Manager at Microsoft… you must be doing something right. Did you always know that you wanted to work for Microsoft?
I grew up around here and starting building websites when I was 11 and was programming games like Monopoly by high school. We only had one computer science class in my high school, but it led me to the Microsoft high school internship program – which was only for students in the Seattle-area.
I didn’t do big stuff during the internship and wasn’t totally set on returning to Microsoft, but it was good industry exposure. Up until that point, I had no idea what “computer science” really meant or how it could actually be applied. I just knew I was interested in technology.
Then you went to USC for college?
Yeah, it was the perfect choice for me because I knew that I didn’t want a traditional engineering degree. I also wanted to study humanities and get a well-rounded education. At the end of the day, when you’re engineering a product, you’re creating something that will be used by people. It’s really important to understand the social and human impact of your work. One of the best ways to understand that bigger picture is to also study psychology, history, political science and more.
Did you carry that philosophy into your job search?
I knew that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk and program all day. I didn’t want to be a tester or a developer. I knew that I was really into in technology, but I also wanted to communicate, to collaborate and to design. I looked at a number of companies, but the only job out there that fit all of those requirements – at least in this stage of my career – was the PM role at Microsoft.
And how have you found the work environment here?
Microsoft has a tons of passionate people who are really intelligent and aren’t just traditional geeks. They have a lot of interests beyond work and they’re fun people to be around.
Having found co-workers with similar values is, for me, one of the greatest things about working here. I work best when I’m surrounded by the people I enjoy.
How were you welcomed as a Project Manager right out of college? Were you thrown right into the mix?
My manager gave me a lot of rope in terms of ownership over my design. He said, “This is what we’re interested in, so… go for it.” The level of responsibility exceeded my expectations but was the best way to learn to stand behind your work.
Do you think that you’d like to manage people in future stages of your career?
I like leading and empowering the people with whom I work. I get a great sense of satisfaction when my dev comes into my office to show me something he’s proud of that he’s created from my designs.
Microsoft has fantastic management training programs. There’s a lot of opportunity here and I plan to explore as much of it as possible.