Everything you need to know about Microsoft Codess!

As the new year commences and I look back at the year that has been, I recall the frame of mind I had been in around this time last year. A sea of missed opportunities had completely bogged me down and while all my peers were engrossed in competitive programming, it completely repelled me. That is when my knight in shining armour, Microsoft’s Codess programme, completely swept me off my feet. And I remember browsing the internet (just like you) to get any tiny bit of information about it, but was unable to find many resources. So here is the one-stop guide to the Microsoft Codess programme for India!

Codess is a community for female coders initiated by Microsoft and was established to explore ways to promote gender diversity in the engineering field. Since its inception in 2013 in London, Codess has been inspiring women in engineering and helping them achieve their professional goals. It brings together young girls and women in technology and encourages them to share their experiences. What started out as a networking event has transformed into a strong and supportive community with chapters across the world. In India, induction into this programme is meant only for female students either in their sophomore year of B.Tech. or first year of M.Tech, or a similar degree.

The Microsoft team looks for not just one’s technical skills but a culmination of professional characteristics consisting of but not limited to creativity, teamwork, communication and leadership qualities, to be induced into the programme, which they gauge in multiple phases. The Codess team visits some of the top-tier engineering campuses in India, and talks to the female students of the college about the procedure of the programme.

Phase 1: Online Coding Test

This is a simple online coding test, hosted on any online coding platform like Mettl, in early March. It consists of four coding questions, which in my experience, can be aced with thorough understanding of basic data structures and algorithms. 4–5 students from each college are selected on the basis of their performance on this test and their GPA, for the next round.

Phase 2: Microsoft Codess Event

Perhaps the most exciting part of the process, the Codess Networking event and Hackathon, a fully-sponsored two-day event (at either Hyderabad or Bangalore, on the basis of your availability) where you get an opportunity to network with Microsoft leaders and other stellar students from top colleges across India, experience a hands on technology workshop and participate in a mentored hackathon (Oh, and did I mention, an opportunity to bag an internship at Microsoft after the sophomore year of college!).

Day 1 of the event started with a Fireside chat with women leaders who talked about their journey in technology, and in Microsoft, a hands-on Garage activity followed by a networking session over snacks, and concluded with a discussion on the themes for the ideathon.

Day 2 was the D-day, the day of the ideathon. We were grouped with students of different colleges, urged to step out of our comfort zones. Each team was assigned a mentor, who primarily mediated the group discussions and shaped the wet clay of our crude ideas. Each participant was judged not only on the basis of the technical credibility of thought, but also their communication skills, creativity, ability to accommodate other ideas and teamwork. Each team then gave a project elevator pitch to the judges, who selected the top 4 teams, who presented their projects to the entire audience at the event.

And… The best part: Internship Offers!

Approximately 30 participants were extended offers to intern at Microsoft (either Hyderabad or Bangalore) for the summer of 2019. One thing to keep in mind here, is that it is not a rat-race, your teammates are not your competitors, so asserting yourself over the others could do more damage than good. There is no cap on selections from a particular team, so being your authentic self will take you a long way. The participants who are not offered internships receive 2 month long mentoring for interview preparations, so everyone walks away with something!

I was a Foundry intern at the swanky new Microsoft IDC at Bangalore. Working in a team of four (mostly five: 4 SWE interns + 1 Product design intern), we were assigned a SWE mentor, a Program Manager and a SWE manager. As a Foundry intern, we were expected to build a proposed project from scratch, and boy, did the presentations and document reviews keep us busy! But the entire ecosystem is designed in a way to nurture and help you thrive, not only as a professional but also as an individual. The ‘growth mindset’ work culture is simply amazing, with all employees willing to help you and assist your learning process. In the 8 weeks at Microsoft, I formed a great network of professionals and made friends for a lifetime. All in all, the experience has been nothing short of a fun adventure ride!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Microsoft to give me an experience of a lifetime!

Previously published at https://medium.com/@namrata_jha/everything-you-need-to-know-about-microsoft-codess-abe11659bc61

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