NAME: Alex Hall
DEGREE AND UNIVERSITY: Marketing BA (Hons), University of Portsmouth
Work Experience: Marketing Executive in the Entertainment and Devices Division of Microsoft UK.
Why did you decide to do work experience? I had always felt it necessary to try and sample working life in a position similar to one which I would like upon graduation. I thought this would help me find out if it was truly for me, or if I needed to cast my net wider or in different places. Additionally, and regardless of whether it was for me or not, I thought the entire experience would be a huge learning curve, both personally and professionally.
Why did you choose this particular placement? It was more a case of Microsoft choosing me rather than the other way around! In my opinion, the opportunity to work for Microsoft at an intern level is simply something you can’t refuse, particularly when you’ve been witness to the environment and facilities where you spend the majority of your working week.
One of the obvious benefits is to be able to speak about working for Microsoft with potential employers upon graduation, and given the weight of Microsoft in the professional community, this is something that won’t be taken lightly.
As for my specific placement role, the Entertainment and Devices Division is responsible for some of the most consumer facing business within Microsoft.
As a result I worked with the Xbox 360 console marketing teams for much of my time at Microsoft, and that fact wasn’t lost on me when I applied for the role!
What exactly did you do? There are far too many things to mention, though some highlights would be working on the Halo 3 launch, during which, while it’s probably the busiest I’ve ever been, I contributed to the launch of one the most successful games of all time. Having responsibilities including marketing in-store, working directly with our retail partners to launch titles and products, and taking on several different roles during my time, has been hugely enjoyable. I also worked on other game launches, the launch of the Xbox 360 Elite console, and most recently on the music festival and event sponsorship side of our brand marketing.
To have the opportunity to really affect the consumer’s decision when they are purchasing, and to try and understand the consumer mindset, is fascinating to me, as a result it certainly contributed to my interest and enjoyment of my year here.
How has your work experience affected your career? This is something that cannot be underestimated when working for Microsoft.
I have no doubt that being able to state on your CV that you have worked for Microsoft is something that can only be viewed as a major asset for future career applications. Working in any major organisation means you will come into contact with many people, who in years to come may be making recruitment decisions themselves, so there’s always an incentive to impress!
What were the highlights of your work experience and were there any downsides?
Working on the Halo 3 launch. Also going to Ibiza to help launch Rockband and Xbox sponsorship of the Ibiza Rocks Hotel.
I would say getting used to the working hours on a full time basis would certainly be one of the downsides! However working for such a company, it’s hard to find anything to complain about.
What did you gain? I would say the overall experience would be the largest personal gain, being able to say you have added value to a team for a year, and becoming a part of that team, improves your knowledge of the working environment no end.
What qualities do you need to succeed on work experience? Being able to put the work in that’s required. At university there are many ways to pass a test, and many scores you can get for submitting coursework. In a workplace if something doesn’t get done then there’s no room for manoeuvre, and to prevent that from happening sometimes more hours are required than is otherwise the norm. However, when the task at hand is a success, the hours seem worthwhile.
Have you any advice for people wanting to do work experience? I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s remarkable looking back at my time before working at Microsoft, and realising how little I knew about working life and the dynamics that go with it. I was convinced at one point that I didn’t want to do work experience, however at this point I would say that I wouldn’t change a thing about my last 12 months.