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Spotlight on Microsoft Internships

August 10, 2017

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to intern at Microsoft? In this month’s episode of the Windows Insider podcast, we look at the intern experience from two perspectives. First, we sit down with Lauren Rosenberg, a double-major in computer science and astrophysics, to learn what it’s like being part of the Cloud and Enterprise team. Lauren was a Windows Insider in the fast ring before starting university, and the program helped propel her interest in working for Microsoft. We also talk to the Windows Insider engineering team’s own intern, Marissa Zhang. Marissa shares her behind-the-scenes perspective of the program and what she’s learned from the global community of Insiders.

Windows Insider Podcast Episode 6

(Music)

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Be honest, what's it like to be an intern here at Microsoft?

PARTICIPANT: Hmm, amazing! (Laughter.)

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Each year, Microsoft welcomes hundreds of people from around the world to participate in the internship program. Interns get the chance to work on real projects that could have a lasting impact on Microsoft.

I wanted to learn more about what it's like to be an intern here, so I sat down with one of our Windows Insiders to get the full scoop.

You're listening to the Windows Insider Podcast, the place where we explore all things Windows, the Insider community, and beyond. I'm your host, Tom Trombley, a.k.a. "The Tomcat." Thanks for joining us, let's get rolling.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Hi, I'm Lauren Rosenberg. I'm originally from Norway. I'm studying computer science and astrophysics.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Okay, what year are you?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I just finished my first year, actually.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Oh, wow, nice.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yeah.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Okay. What brought you to that path of study?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: So I was always interested in computers and so I decided to pursue computer science, but I wanted to pursue astrophysics. Initially, I was pursuing a physics degree, but I found out that there was this third-year class where you could just spend a whole year learning about telescopes, and there are some massive telescopes on top of the physics building I wanted to try, so switched over to that.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Are there massive telescopes around the world that you're looking to go visit?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Maybe.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: I saw the movie Contact.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I need to go to the one in Hawaii.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Oh, you need to go there?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yeah.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: I've been up there.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I want to see it.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Okay.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: It would be amazing. (Laughter.)

THOMAS TROMBLEY: That's awesome. Tell us about the project here and the team that you're working with for your internship.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Sure. I'm in C&E, I am working with the NuGet team.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: "C&E," for those in the civilian world?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Cloud and Enterprise, working with the NuGet team, which is the package manager for Visual Studio. I am specifically working on the NuGet gallery, which is the Web interface for NuGet.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Tell us more about NuGet.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I always explain it to laymen saying that -- imagine it's kind of like an app store for developers. If you want to create a project and you need to use some code, but don't want to reinvent the wheel, you can just pull down some things that someone else has created and you can put it all together.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Wow. And your specific responsibility within the framework of that whole effort?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: So, we actually didn't have a place for documentation to go on the NuGet website, surprisingly. And so in order to learn how to use a package, you would have to go to GitHub or some other website to be able to learn how to use the package.

My job was kind of integrating that within the website so that people could learn how to use a package and learn more about the package within the website.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Wow. So are you working directly with customers and getting feedback on how to iterate and develop that documentation system? Or are you going off of requirements that you've been handed?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I'm actually an explorer, which means that I did both the project management and the software developing role. And so I spent the first month of my internship speaking with customers and learning what they were interested in having, and then I spent the last two months of the internship actually taking what I had heard from customers and implementing it directly. .

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Now, how long have you been working on this?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I have been working on this for about three months, and I'm' actually finishing up, it's my last week.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Wow.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yeah.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: That's a very brief time to be here, but you're expected to learn a lot and run with a lot very quickly. So tell me about that.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: So, I always say that my team is full of the nicest people in the world.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Wow. That's a heavy endorsement.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: It is! They are the nicest people in the world, and I can tell you that.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Note to other interns, or would-be interns, we're very nice here.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yes. I can attest.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Now, I want to talk a little bit about the Windows Insider Program with you, and how long you've been a Windows Insider.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I've been a Windows Insider for about two years.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Okay. And what kind of brought you to want to become an Insider?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I was doing a bunch of experimentation with different operating systems. I was learning Linux at the time, setting up Arch Linux on my own. And when going through the Windows interface, coming across the Insider program was really interesting to me because I wanted to be able to access new features and be able to give feedback on them at the same time. And I thought it would be a really interesting way to keep up to date with the operating system.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Yeah, we have a lot of system-initiated user feedback and user-initiated feedback. What sort of areas did you say, "Hey, Microsoft, maybe you should wake up and work on this"? (Laughter.)

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I don't think that I had any specific ideas, but I remember being extremely excited for when Bash for Windows came out. I remember I was sitting there and refreshing my update page for about two or three days until I finally got the update running. I was really excited for that. Being able to run Bash directly on Windows instead of having to open up Git Bash or anything like that was really unique and it was really helpful.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Right, now, what's been your experience running preview builds on Windows thus far? I mean, have you found that you're fairly in a stable environment? Well, first off, let me ask what ring you're on.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I used to be on the fast ring, and during university, I moved to the slow ring.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Okay.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: And I did that because, initially, I was really happy with the fast ring, and I'm still happy with the fast ring, I never had any major bugs or anything like that, but I came into a problem in which I would download the update overnight and I would open my computer in class and it would start installing right there and then. And so I'd go to try and take notes, and all of a sudden --

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Yeah.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: -- it wasn't an option.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: So then you've got to go full manual with pen and paper.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yeah. I didn't even have pen and paper because I have a Surface Book and do all of my notes on OneNote.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Now, tell me, how did the Windows Insider Program support your journey towards becoming an intern here at Microsoft?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I think that it was one of the things that first opened my eyes to becoming interested in Microsoft as a company. It was the first time that I stopped viewing Microsoft as this faceless entity and started viewing it as a group of developers. I actually got completely interested in Microsoft due to the Surface line of products.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Right.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I was actually very excited because of that, and I think that's one of the things that drove me to Microsoft in the end.

I realized that this was a place where good ideas happen, and I wanted to be in a place where I could be surrounded by the people that have those ideas, and maybe eventually be one of the people who creates the ideas like that.

And so I ended up taking my Surface Book out during the interview and showing them, "Here are some of the amazing things I like about the product, here are things that drew me to Microsoft in the first place, and here's why I'm so passionate about it."

THOMAS TROMBLEY: You know what I want to hear is, what's your superpower?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I want to teleport.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Well, like, what's your -- you can or is that something you want? (Laughter.)

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Oh, something I can do? I like learning languages. I always said it was procrastination that looks good on a resume. Because when you're talking about pizza in Korean, it doesn't really feel like studying. (Laughter.)

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Wait a minute. Story. There's got to be a story behind that.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Not really. I mean, the way that I learned languages is I'd learn kind of the basics with a textbook, and then I would proceed to throw my textbook out the window, make some friends who only speak that language, and just talk to them. If you don't know grammar, look it up. If you don't know a word, look it up. And that way, you kind of learn naturally. And so I've been able the pick up about six languages and I'm very happy I was able to do that.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: I was a French major. I remember when I went to live in Avignon, they were very tolerant of my grammar changes. They were very, like, "Oh, at least he's trying to speak the language --

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Oh, yeah.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: -- and do so in a southern dialect of French."

Now, before the episode, we spoke and you said you lived in Morocco.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I did.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: And you learned both French and Arabic.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yes, I did.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Tell me about that experience real quick.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: So I actually learned French in middle school, so my French isn't perfect anymore.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Me too!

LAUREN ROSENBERG: But I had initially gone to Morocco to learn Arabic. I went to learn Fusha, which is the modern standard Arabic.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Right.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: And I quickly realized that Morocco does not speak modern standard Arabic. They understand it --

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Okay.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: -- but they do not speak it. Because of French and Spanish colonialization, they speak kind of a mishmash of Arabic, French, and Spanish. And so I quickly found myself not able to communicate.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Oh, no.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: And so, all of a sudden, I was forced to essentially speak French full time, and I was lucky enough to get by with that.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Be honest, what's it like to be an intern here at Microsoft?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Hmm. Amazing. (Laughter.) I think that it's a really great learning opportunity, realistically, to be able to have so many interesting people that you can learn from and take from and improve yourself and have the opportunity to better yourself in so many ways. And there's also some quite amazing things that they have put on for the interns, not just things that are significant, like the Chainsmokers concert that we got, which was kind of amazing. (Laughter.)

Well, it was at Boeing, which was even cooler. And they had an astronaut there. They had a module of the ISS there, as well.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Oh, right on.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: That's why I got to go through that. But it was really cool because there had been a talk here at Microsoft a couple weeks prior from another astronaut, and I went up to him and I said, "Hey, there was actually this talk a couple weeks ago with another astronaut, who was a space doctor."

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Wow.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Cool option. He's, like, "Oh, yeah, we went to lunch yesterday." It's like all astronauts are friends.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Yeah, they are.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: It's amazing.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Do you have any advice for our listeners who may be interested in interning at Microsoft? For example, what did you do to get noticed by a recruiter? Or what skills do you think an intern at Microsoft should have coming into it?

LAUREN ROSENBERG: I'm not 100 percent sure what drew them to me. I have a couple ideas, but I actually --

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Let's explore those ideas.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Okay. So I actually applied to Microsoft three times. I applied twice online and once in person at a recruiter fair. I was contacted two weeks later. She never told me she was going to contact me. I was in my pajamas doing calculus homework when I got that call.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Perfect.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: She's, like, "Hey, it's Microsoft, do you have 20 minutes?" For you, I do.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Absolutely.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: But she mentioned in that initial call that Office things that drew her to me is that I had done a specific course in Web development and other kinds of coding outside of school and outside of university to be able to better myself. And so she thought that that was kind of -- it was good that I was able to quantify and act on my interests instead of just going with the flow.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Lauren, it's been a real pleasure to have you here for an interview.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yeah, of course.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: And to share with our listeners about your experience as an intern. Thank you so much.

LAUREN ROSENBERG: Yeah, of course. It's great being able to be here in the first place.

THOMAS TROMBLEY: Thanks, Lauren, for giving us an inside look at the intern experience here at Microsoft.

Let's dig a little deeper into what it means to be an intern.

For the second year in a row, the Windows Insider engineering team has welcomed our own intern. This year, we welcomed Marissa Zhang.

Our program's director, Jeremiah Marble, sat down with Marissa to find out what it's really like to work with Jason, his taco hat, and the rest of the Ninja Cats, while they work on your bug fixes.

MARISSA ZHANG: My name is Marissa, I'm a PM intern on the Windows Insider engineering team. This is my second year at Microsoft. I'm graduating next year in industrial engineering at the University of Toronto.

This summer, I'm working on two projects, I guess. I'm working on changes to the Feedback Hub, and I'm also working on trying to solve our problem of diversity through a social media strategy.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: So the most important question I have for you: Who are you reporting to?

MARISSA ZHANG: Jason Howard.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Jason Howard. The question that all Insiders want to know is: What's it like reporting to Jason Howard?

MARISSA ZHANG: He is a lot of fun. He's kind of crazy, but he's been a really, really good mentor to me, and he's always, like, made me laugh, which is awesome.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Have you been able to wear his taco hat yet?

MARISSA ZHANG: I've seen it.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: You've seen the taco hat?

MARISSA ZHANG: It's been in my presence, yes, but I've not attempted. (Laughter.) I'm not sure how many people have worn the hat.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Tell us about the project that you're working on. So you're working on two?

MARISSA ZHANG: Uh-huh. (Affirmative.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Tell us about the first one.

MARISSA ZHANG: Okay. So the spec work is basically like -- it's more of like a traditional, I guess, PM project. And I'm trying to figure out a way for engineers to contact Insiders. It's really important for us for getting down to the nitty-gritty of bugs, and it's also I think important to Insiders to hear that their feedback is being heard and have that communication.

So we're trying to do that through the Feedback Hub right now. It's a pretty long process, but hopefully it will get there before the end of the summer.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: What has been the most interesting thing you've learned while working on that one?

MARISSA ZHANG: Definitely convincing people and being clear about my ideas. It's not really as straightforward as I thought it would be. There's a lot of stakeholders involved, and there is a lot of buy-in that needs to be had. So it involves just getting everybody in a room, getting everyone to agree, talking to people individually and getting them to agree, and kind of coming to those solutions together. So it's a lot of wrangling of people.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: And I know that you've been interacting with a couple of insiders as you've been thinking it through. Can you tell us about that? What's it like interacting with the vast community of Insiders all around the world?

MARISSA ZHANG: They're really fun. I've been sitting in on the webcasts and seeing all their comments go by and seeing what questions they ask. It seems all they're really kind of like a fun community, there's a lot of inside jokes. They really love Jason. (Laughter.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah. And his hat.

MARISSA ZHANG: Yeah.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Remind us exactly what you're studying.

MARISSA ZHANG: My focus is in human factors engineering, specifically. So that has to do with everything that has to do with how people interact with technology. So that's like ergonomics, team design, UX design, human-computer interaction -- everything on that level.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: So it's way more than just, you know, algorithms and data structures and things like that, I guess.

MARISSA ZHANG: It's a part of my degree, a small part of it, but it's, again, like my degree is more about big-picture systems and like large-scale things.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah. So you're learning about these big-picture things and systems. Have you found some of the stuff that you're studying to be useful here?

MARISSA ZHANG: Absolutely. I think it's the most ideal degree for a PM to have.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Cool.

MARISSA ZHANG: In my opinion. Because being a PM is all about finding clarity in lots and lots of confusion and dealing with a bunch of developers and designers and other PMs. So, you know, trying to get like a big idea to happen. It's very much related I think.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: And so there are Insiders all around the world. A question that we get from many of them is: Hey, you guys are doing cool stuff, how can I come work for Microsoft? If you were, you know, out in New Delhi or Sao Paolo or somewhere not UT, and you were looking to get a job here at Microsoft, what, for you, would be some of the skills that you'd want to work on?

So assume that you can't study systems design or industrial engineering, what sort of things would be useful for folks looking to work in tech?

MARISSA ZHANG: Well, yeah, if you're going for an engineering role, there's a lot of software that you can learn on your own, I think. And especially like a lot of what I've learned, I've learned a lot doing projects and -- from work, right?

So you could always do your own side projects -- work on an app, work on a website. If you're more design focused, like work on like a redesign of something that you care about. It's important to build out your portfolio. I should probably get on that. (Laughter.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: LinkedIn also.

MARISSA ZHANG: And also like for the interviews, right? Like, brushing up no algorithms, questions, cracking the coding interview, cracking the PM interview, and all that standard stuff.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah. That's awesome. So you mentioned the first of your two projects. What about the second one, the one that you've recently pivoted from the first to the second?

MARISSA ZHANG: The second one is really interesting. That one actually involves our whole team, and it's kind of like I'm trying to figure out a way to use social media to strengthen our Insider community and also diversify it a little bit. So it's been kind of like an open-ended question, because we're trying to figure out, "Who should we diversify to? What are the user groups that we're missing?" That question is not that easy to answer without the help of data science.

And then, also, we're trying to figure out, "What channels should we go after?" And, ultimately, at the end of the day, is to give Insiders a good community to be a part of and have them feel like rewarded for being a part of the program and uniting them all together and connecting them. So it's pretty exciting.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: And so how can the Insider listening to this podcast, how can they help you executing this?

MARISSA ZHANG: Just speak up, right? Like, Insiders are active on Twitter right now and I want to hear your thoughts and any ideas on how we can improve our social and if you really think that we should have a strong LinkedIn group, or if you think that we should even have a Snapchat, like, please tweet at us. (Laughter.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That's right. I'm not on Snapchat, that's a little bit before my time. (Laughter.) Can you tell us a little bit about your long-distance running?

MARISSA ZHANG: Okay, cool. So I'm trying to train for a half marathon right now.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Wow.

MARISSA ZHANG: It's really, really fun. I run every other day, and it's something that means a lot to me because if I'm really stressed out, I can go and destress.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That would never happen here. (Laughter.)

MARISSA ZHANG: Yeah, like have a bad day, you go for a run, your head's cleared.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah.

MARISSA ZHANG: I also run the MS Intern Running Club --

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Oh, wow.

MARISSA ZHANG: -- every Wednesday.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: The MS Intern Running Club?

MARISSA ZHANG: Yep. We've got 45 people signed up, but an average attendance of five. (Laughter.) Which is cool. Like, it's fine.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: One out of nine.

MARISSA ZHANG: It's a good group to run with, I really like them. They push me to go faster. So, yeah, it's a huge part of my life, and I never want to let that go.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Do you think that that's an important part -- as you look around at some of the other engineers, other folks that you've met here at Microsoft, do you think that having sort of an active, important thing to you outside of tech is also important? Or do you think it's sort of more of a distraction?

MARISSA ZHANG: No, it's super important.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Why?

MARISSA ZHANG: It's what Dona's spoken to the interns before about having like a side hustle.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Here we got. (Laughter.)

MARISSA ZHANG: And it's important to have something else that, like, motivates you that you can work on. I build skills out of running that I don't build at work, necessarily, like, you know, determination and just being able to push through hard situations.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That's a big hill.

MARISSA ZHANG: Exactly. And not, like, you know, not walking up the hill -- especially in Seattle, there's a lot of hills, it's not easy.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: One or two. (Laughter.)

MARISSA ZHANG: So, yeah, it's really important to me. Like, other people have other stuff going on, people might be into playing the cello or they might like building apps in their spare time. It can only benefit your career by having diverse interests.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: So bring your full self to work.

MARISSA ZHANG: Uh-huh. (Affirmative.) I think that's what our company is about.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Jason, back to him. So what are some of his unique quirks? What are some of the things that he does for fun?

MARISSA ZHANG: Jason?

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah.

MARISSA ZHANG: I know he really likes camping. He's camping right now. He's been camping a lot.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Don't tell -- oh, wait, is this live? (Laughter.)

MARISSA ZHANG: And he likes shooting guns in his spare time. (Laughter.) Which is weird for me as a Canadian. I'm, like, "Uh, you can buy them and you can build them?" Okay.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That's awesome.

MARISSA ZHANG: Like, you do you. (Laughter.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Okay. So we're going to move on to the next question. (Laughter.) So you went to E3?

MARISSA ZHANG: Uh-huh. (Affirmative.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That was a while back.

MARISSA ZHANG: That was last year.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah. What was your experience at E3? First of all, what is E3?

MARISSA ZHANG: Okay.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: And then what was your experience there?

MARISSA ZHANG: So E3 is -- I'm sure many of you guys know -- it's just a big conference for gaming. Microsoft has a huge presence there with Xbox and all of our first-party games. You guys, like, our team just kind of put me there.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Surprise!

MARISSA ZHANG: Surprise! I'm not going to pretend I'm a serious gamer. I play like Stardew Valley on my computer.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Okay.

MARISSA ZHANG: But, yeah, it was really crazy because I came in with this kind of like outsider view to E3 and I learned a lot. I got to, like, demo a bunch of games. I got to go to the Xbox briefing session, which was super cool, like it was all around like a super crazy experience, two-hour lineups to demo games. I got some swag for my friends back at home in Toronto.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Nice.

MARISSA ZHANG: They were super excited. But we got to meet some Insiders there, too, which is awesome.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah. I was going to ask you about that. That, for me, was one of my favorite parts of being at E3. What was it like meeting some real, live Insiders?

MARISSA ZHANG: Yeah, no, they're super cool. I met a lot of people my age, actually, that was studying like CS and stuff, and I was able to, like, talk them through if they wanted to work at Microsoft, what would that be like? They're really cool people. I actually, like, keep in touch with some of them today.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Nice.

MARISSA ZHANG: Yeah.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That's very cool. And so you've got a couple weeks left?

MARISSA ZHANG: Uh-huh. (Affirmative.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: As you think about closing out strong, what are some of the things that you want to achieve before you head back?

MARISSA ZHANG: So I really want that feature done.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Okay.

MARISSA ZHANG: I want that spec to be signed off.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Yeah.

MARISSA ZHANG: Yesterday, I had my fourth spec review and finally things are on the right track.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That's important, yeah.

MARISSA ZHANG: So it's pretty exciting. I want the social stuff to be closed off, too. I want you guys to be on board with what I'm planning for us to do and get the ball rolling on actually starting these channels and making the changes that we need to make so I can actually, like, kick that off before I leave.

And, yeah, if that all happens, I'll be pretty happy. Plus, I can keep you guys in check throughout the school year if I see that you're not doing the things that I want you to do on social. I can be, like, "Hey."

JEREMIAH MARBLE: That would never happen. We're going to do exactly --

MARISSA ZHANG: "Hey, what's going on?"

JEREMIAH MARBLE: So you've also been through a couple different phases of our development, right?

MARISSA ZHANG: Uh-huh. (Affirmative.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: So for the Insider who has, you know, no idea of how you actually roll out new features in Windows or implement a strategy like you're doing right now, what does the process look like? Is it just, you know, Dona or I have this crazy idea, and then suddenly it's in code? Or is there more to it than that?

MARISSA ZHANG: Yeah. So it's quite a process. So somebody has an idea, either the PM or the customer, there's some idea floating around. And it lands on someone -- it's usually something really high level, like how can we contact Insiders?

What the PM does is try to find clarity to that situation. They talk to a bunch of other people, a bunch of other PMs and developers and, hopefully, the end users of the situation try to find -- piece together a solution through a spec. So, like, a spec document is basically a series of, like, "Why are we building this? What are the metrics to measure, like, why this is good?" A set of requirements for devs to understand what to build, and probably a bunch of wire frames designing the feature if it's, like, very UI heavy.

The point of a spec document is to basically convey the design idea and developers should be able to use this document and reference it to build what they need to build.

So there's a series of spec reviews that you do with all the other stakeholders involved with this feature, and you just have to review and review and iterate and iterate until it's signed off. Once it's signed off, it goes into VSO. It's assigned, like, a cost and it's implemented in whatever sprint that they want to do it in. And, eventually, it's shipped.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: You forgot the pizza. (Laughter.) And the doughnuts.

MARISSA ZHANG: That's true.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: It's amusing how much better people will work if you bring doughnuts.

MARISSA ZHANG: Oh, for sure. (Laughter.)

JEREMIAH MARBLE: She brought doughnuts. (Laughter.) Cool. Thank you so much for your time.

MARISSA ZHANG: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

JEREMIAH MARBLE: Appreciate it. Have a great day.

MARISSA ZHANG: You too, bye.

NARRATION: Coming up next time on the Windows Insider Podcast, we explore how businesses use the Insider program to power innovation from large corporations to startup entrepreneurs. And be sure to check out previous episodes, where we've explored all kinds of topics, like an inside look at the largest hackathon in the world -- hosted here at Microsoft.

If you want to connect with us in person, the Windows Insider team will be at the Microsoft Ignite conference on September 25th through the 29th. Swing by the booth, say hello, and pick up some Ninja Cat swag.

If you can't make it to Ignite, don't worry. There are more ways to get swag. You could review this podcast in iTunes, Stitcher, or on the RSS feed. As a thank you, we'll pick one reviewer at random and send them a Ninja Cat T-shirt and a sticker. Which reminds me, we have a winner to announce. The next person to receive a Ninja Cat T-shirt and sticker is Zamin (ph.), who reviewed us on Stitcher. So, Zamin, reach out to us at winsider@microsoft.com -- that's W-I-N-S-I-D-E-R@microsoft.com -- with your name and address so we can send you your prizes.

Thanks, Insiders. See you next time on the Windows Insider Podcast.

NARRATION: Our program today was produced by Microsoft Production Studios. The Insider team includes Tyler Ahn, Michelle Paison, and Amelia Greim.

Our website is insider.windows.com.

Support for the Windows Insider Podcast comes from Microsoft, empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Moral support and inspiration comes from Ninja Cat, reminding us to have fun and pursue our passions.

Thanks, as always, to our program's co-founders, Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble.

Join us next month with more stories from Windows Insiders.

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