Written by Allie Ivener – iX Coding ’14, University of Virginia
Yes, it was just like I had imagined. I was standing in front of a whiteboard with a Microsoft employee waiting for me to start writing. His question involved something about drawing database tables. I hadn’t learned that in school. I hadn’t practiced that before my interview. But I still did it, and if you don’t mind me bragging, I nailed it.
And then came questions about testing, user experience, and development practices. I was currently enrolled in an advanced software development class at UVa, but this interview was after only a few classes and we definitely hadn’t gotten to all of that yet. I was asked to describe types of testing and even had to pretend my interviewer was a customer and have a conversation with him about a broken product. Again, I hadn’t practiced this before my interview or really learned a lot about it in school. I was asked about a project I worked on. Nothing I had done at school was more than just a homework assignment. But I quickly pulled up Kazoo, a web application I made with a friend while at iXperience. And sure enough, a few days after I left Redmond I got the call offering me an internship position at Microsoft! I guess I had pulled it off.
When I first signed up for iXperience, I expected to just learn how to make web applications. I didn’t really know what exactly that would mean, but I never imagined it would contribute so heavily to me landing an internship at Microsoft.
I mean, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t write code in Ruby during my interviews, especially when there are so many evil questions related to linked lists, hashes, and other data structures that just beg for some C++. But what I hadn’t realized is how much I would learn about coding practices, development, and database structure, while at iXperience, and how important it is to have a project to display my skills.
At iX, I learned more than just how to code. I created an entire web application from scratch and learned to use git in the process. I learned about test-driven development from our instructor, Salman, about user experience from the CEO, Aaron, and I worked in at a startup, 22seven, which used an agile methodology. I also learned a whole new programming framework and language in just a few weeks, which allowed me to prove to my interviewers that I’m a quick learner and can thrive in new environments. Sure, I may eventually learn these things in class, but I certainly will not get the firsthand experience at school that iXperience provided me.