“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”

Napoleon Hill

Ting Ting Huang has proved that this attitude could even land you an internship at Microsoft. A rising senior in Business Information Management and Japanese Studies at the University of California, Irvine, Ting Ting has faced many obstacles in her path and was riddled with self-doubt initially, but she took the courage to take a step back, reflect on herself, and strike back harder.

This is what led Ting Ting to bag the prestigious Program Manager Internship at Microsoft Corporation. She is a person who enjoys challenging her business acumen in fast-paced environments and is also enthusiastic about giving back to the community.

From believing that it is possible to succeed in the tech industry only as a developer to finding her true passion as a program manager, let’s have a look at the incredible journey of Ting Ting. 

Key takeaways of the interview:

INTERVIEW

1. How did you prepare for the program?

I didn’t exactly have a plan in mind to prepare for the program. The opportunity I have now is thanks to establishing a good rapport with my network early on. I was young but my upperclassmen friends at the time invited me to attend campus recruitment events, where I had the chance to meet the campus recruiter for Microsoft. From there it was building a consistent and harmonious relationship with the recruiter and being open to learning about the various values and programs opened at the time, since I wasn’t sure of what I wanted for my future yet.

2. How long did the preparation last?

You’ll see in my application and recruitment process that I can’t say much about preparing for my current role prior to my interview; but if it means from the point I first made contact with the recruiter/company up until I actually landed the role, it took a little over a year (Fall of my sophomore to Winter of my junior year).

3. Could you walk us through the application and recruiting process?

I did not explicitly apply for the PM role. About a year ago, I actually formally applied via the online application to the Explore Program, an SWE/PM rotational program for freshmen/sophomores. While I managed to make it to the final rounds for that program, I didn’t get the final offer and quite honestly, gave up and wondered if the technology industry was even for me. However, about half a year later, the same campus recruiter reached out to me and asked if I was still interested in pursuing either a full-time SWE or PM internship with Microsoft. After some soul searching, I decided to give the PM position a shot, knowing it is more limited than SWE and the recruiter expedited me to the final round interview. I’ve never prepared for PM interviews before and immediately bought “Cracking the PM Interview” and reached out to previous interns via LinkedIn to set up short networking calls to ask about their experiences. The company flew me out to their Redmond campus for a 1 day 2 nights interview trip and after interviewing, I was notified that I landed the internship about 2 weeks later. 

4. Why do you think you were selected?

I believe I was selected because I have shown growth. Ever since I failed to receive the final offer for the Explore Program, I decided to take a break from recruitment to give myself space to reflect and explore. In the past, I solely believed that I’ll only be able to succeed in the tech industry as a developer, not letting myself reflect if that was truly my passion or exploring the many other roles that makeup tech. The tech industry is huge — it’s made up of developers, designers, PMs, marketers, and so much more and after some time, I decided that PM best aligned with my skills and interests. I invested my time in reading self-improvement books, studying the industry, volunteering and competing in hackathons which all reflected on my resume and during my interview, demonstrating my growth and expansion in ideas.

5. Have you faced any failures or rejections in this journey?

Too many to count! If it gives you a better idea, I applied to over 60 different internships within one year and got either completely ignored, rejected or failed the first-round interviews. It was disheartening but opportunities are truly a numbers game, so long as you continue improving yourself and keep applying, you can achieve your dream internship too.

6. What was your experience in this program?

My experience in this program has been nothing short of amazing, and probably not for the reasons you think! When people think of Microsoft, they probably think of the prestige or the abundance of resources and how might they spoil their interns — which is true of course, but the best thing about this program and company is its people. I’ve met so many FTEs and interns from all walks of life, each with their passions and goals. Being able to engage in conversations and work with such amazing people has simultaneously humbled and empowered me. Materialistic resources are temporary but the professional and personal learnings I’ve gained in my time here will last forever. 

7. Would you like to give some tips for the readers?

There is no straight path to success, but if you stay determined, you’ll get to where you are meant to be. 

8. A word of advice for future applicants in the same program?

Start preparing early (studying, extracurriculars, volunteering, other jobs/internships/projects) and reach out to your network! 

This is the highly inspirational story of Ting Ting Huang who made it to great heights while discovering her passion for the tech industry. As Ting Ting found her space in serving as a program manager, we wish the readers all the best to be able to explore their true interests and conquer success as well.

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