Career tips at Microsoft

I have always been hesitated to write this post but since I’ve been fortunately enough to have great career mentors and I recently got to a new career stage, I’d like to share some of the career tips that benefited me over the years:

  1. Before you get to senior level, there’s only one tip: Get things Done, well, the direct words were slightly different, to quote from a Partner level mentor. Well, there’s more:
  2. Assume you can do your own work very well, start to think about what you can do to help others or the team. For example, if you observed most devs are doing the same manual effort over and over again, maybe you could write a tool to automate it and save everybody’s time.
  3. If you look around, you should always be able to find some inefficiency somewhere. Maybe the unit tests have low coverage, maybe the perf of the product is not so good in certain scenarios. Those are opportunities for you to step up.
  4. Junior devs would like to spend a lot of time. That’s a good thing. But time doesn’t equal to results. You should always focus on your time and effort on the most important things. I know sometimes it’s not very clear what the most important things are. But if you take a look at your manager’s commitment, or the business priorities of the whole product group, you should have a better picture.
  5. Always document things, especially with partner teams. It’s very easy to forget what you discussed in a meeting. Having everything documented would usually guarantee there’s no misunderstanding.
  6. Have a sense of ownership. I’m not talking about claiming or even fighting for the so-called ownership of important features or components. I’m talking about in general the sense of feeling you’re the owner of the product your team is working on. If there’s an issue or a customer question, never simply say “it’s not my feature or my bug”.
  7. Pay attention to communications and soft skills. Sometimes it’s common sense and learning how to better deal with people is a life lesson. I’m not going to talk about this in details but remember, this could be a blocker when you want to grow your career to senior or beyond.

I welcome any comments and feedback.

P.S., due to some personal reason, I didn’t write any blog post for a long time. I’ll try to be more active now.

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