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The first car I ever drove was a seventy-something Chevy Nova.  The thing was a death trap, whoever owned it before my mom never took care of it.  I’ll spare you the details of the ripped upholstery, the brakes that caught about a quarter of an inch before hitting the floor and the radio that probably hadn’t worked since 1981.  What’s important here, is that my mom was fond of saying, “If you can drive that thing, you can drive anything”.  How right she was, in more ways than one.

I learned to drive on that car, but more importantly, I learned to drive on the main streets and backroads of Boston and its suburbs.  If ever there was a trial-by-fire situation, it’s being a novice driver in Boston.  Thankfully I’d had 17 years worth of observation behind me, so while operating the machinery was new, the rules of the road were not.  For example, I knew that each lane of the highway has a very specific function and you were to use those lanes for their intended purpose: the middle lane is for traveling, the far left is for passing and the far right is for slower moving cars, as there’s a certain degree of caution involved due to cars exiting and entering the highway.  

Now, at the time I wasn’t aware that the rest of the country doesn’t follow these rules, so to move out here to western Washington and be faced with a population of people completely oblivious to these best practices of highway driving was a shock to the system.  They use all three lanes for travel, regardless of the speed, which is typically much slower than your average Boston driver, who maintains 5-10 miles over the speed limit at all times (unless their radar detector advises otherwise).  It’s not uncommon to get boxed in by three cars who are all traveling at similar speeds across all three lanes — I shit you not.  I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life.  What’s wrong with these people?

I know, you Boston drivers are saying to yourselves “Just get over to the left lane, climb up his ass and flash your lights at him… he’ll move”, but no… he won’t.  I too thought that was the universal signal for “Get your slow ass over to the travel lane”, but apparently that only works in Boston and the surrounding area because they don’t get it out here at all.  That’s not to say you don’t see tailgaters, you do… but it’s usually people who’re sporting Red Sox or Patriots stickers and/or license plate frames (like yours truly).  But we’re not the only aggressive drivers here… not the case at all, there are aggressive drivers, they just choose different situations to be aggressive in.  Stupid situations. 

There is a stretch of road on my daily commute called Novelty Hill Road.  My husband and I have renamed it “Douchebag Hill Road”, partially because he can never remember the actual name, and partially because of the annoying, self-important dinks who make it their mission in life to piss off every other commuter on that road.  The article linked to above seems to have a different take on it, but the brilliant engineers who designed this traffic mess don’t seem to pay too much attention to human nature.  Allow me to explain:

Novelty Hill road was once a two lane road with nothing but trees on either side.  In recent years, developers have moved in and erected these cookie-cutter housing and retail developments, necessitating the evolution of Novelty Hill Road into… a two lane road, with a small stretch that offers a temporary lane on either side for cars entering and exiting, and arguably, allowing for a greater volume of cars to pass through the single set of lights that dissects this controversial section of tarmac.

Those of us who travel this road know full well that if you jump out of line to get into one of these short-lived right lanes that lasts for about 15 seconds, you are either A.) turning off of Novelty Hill road, or B.) you’re one of those dinks who jumps out of line to cut 2-3 cars ahead in the 15 seconds you have to find a spot before the temporary lane ends and you have to merge back into the same lane you just moved out of.  Regardless of whether or not the use of both lanes going through the lights keeps traffic flowing at a faster rate, it nonetheless results in a lot of animosity, anger and road rage that has been responsible for numerous accidents as people who jumped out of line to that right lane speed up and try to cut back in ahead of people who remained in the left lanes.

A few weekends ago we were traveling this stretch to run some errands.  In front of us was a black beamer and in front of him was a red pickup truck.  As soon as those fleeting right lanes appeared, Mr. Beamer decided that Mr. Redtruck was going too slow.  He jumped out of line and sped up, only to find that Mr. Redtruck was going slow because all the cars in front of him were going slow too.  No sooner did Mr. Beamer make this realization when the slanting white arrows appeared in his lane, instructing him to merge as the right lane he was in would end soon.  He made the unwise choice of cutting Mr. Redtruck off, which we saw from our position just one car back. 

Much to our surprise and delight, Mr. Redtruck was having none of Mr. Beamer’s shenanigans.  Apparently the rage from having to slam on his breaks was enough to send him over the edge and into the right lane.  Without hesitation he immediately sped past Mr. Beamer and cut the wheel hard while he laid on his horn to let Mr. Beamer know he was coming, and Mr. Beamer had better move out of his way.  As Mr. Beamer was sporting a temporary license plate, Mr. Redtruck had been correct in his assumptions that his brand new sporty black baby would indeed yield to avoid a rather large dent and scratch of red paint.

A few blocks later, Mr. Redtruck pulled off into a left turn only lane.  As soon as my husband saw that he’d pulled over to turn, he rolled down his window, threw out a thumbs up and yelled “THANK YOU!!!” as we passed by.

It just dawned on me that the title of this blog assumes that you, dear reader, are aware of what it means to be “type B”… and “type A” for that matter.  I apologize, I try not to make assumptions, but this one just slipped by undetected.  Just to cover the bases, here’s a rather plain, to-the-point definition of a type B personality that I got after taking a simple personality test online:

You are a strong type B. In general you are more laid back, more invested in friends and networking and not as hard driving and competitive a Type A. You like a calmer, less extroverted life and you are inclined to self-analysis.

I also found this definition from BusinessDictionary.com:

Temperament characterized by moderate ambitiousness and drive, accommodating attitude, cooperativeness, focus on quality over quantity and, in general, an easy going approach to life.

Now that that you have this definition, you probably have a pretty good idea of what my opposite (type A) is all about.  Microsoft is chock full of type A personalities… competitive, aggressive, ambitious people who live to work, put in insane hours and always have their eye on the proverbial prize.

That’s not me.

Let me qualify that: I absolutely love it at Microsoft — never before have I found myself in a more stimulating, challenging and intense environment.  While that may seem like the antithesis of what it means to be type B, it’s also the reason that I feel like I’ve found the right place for me to build a career.  There is no complacency at Microsoft, you’re constantly being pushed out of your comfort zone; constantly stretching the limits of what you thought you were capable of.  

While we type Bs may be at a disadvantage when pitted against our more aggressive type A colleagues in terms of career advancement, overall, I think being type B in a place like Microsoft is an asset.  Unlike some of my workaholic team members, I have a fairly healthy work-life balance — as a wife and mother, maintaining that balance is crucial.  I have no problem putting in extra hours to get the job done and I’m happy to go the extra mile whenever I see an opportunity to knock something out of the park, but I try to stick to “normal” hours as much as I can so that it’s not a big deal when I do have to burn the midnight oil.

So, there you have it… now you know what it means to be a “Type B Microsoftie”.

Looking for information on preparing for a job interview with Microsoft? You’ve come to the right place! I was in your shoes not long ago and it took several hours of research to uncover anything that was genuinely helpful in preparing for my interview. I can’t go into great detail about my own experience — I know you wish I would — but I can point you in the right direction to the resources that I found when I was “studying”. Feel free to jump ahead to the list at the bottom of this page, but for those of you interested to learn a bit about how I found myself at Microsoft, here’s a brief introduction:

A few weeks before the 2006 holidays began, I came home to my 1832 farmhouse in rural northern Vermont to find a voicemail from a recruiter who wanted to chat with me about my resume (I had recently posted it on both Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com). She didn’t say which company she was calling from, but made a cryptic allusion to representing a rather large company that was hiring in the search engine marketing space, to which she added “think Yahoo! and Google’s competitor”. Having worked in search engine marketing for close to two years at that point, I knew the only company she could possibily be referring to was Microsoft.

My initial reaction was suspicion; positions of Microsoft caliber don’t just fall out of the sky and land in your lap, that much I knew. I’ve read enough articles on the big M to know that they have a steady stream of applicants beating down their door on a regular basis, and that their college recruiters snap up the best and the brightest fresh out of schools like Stanford, Harvard and Yale. I graduated from UMass Boston… not exactly ivy league (although not too shabby either). Why on Earth would Microsoft be calling me?  Not that I was averse to the prospect of pursuing a position with them, quite the opposite.  It just seemed so surreal that they would be contacting me.

Imagine being a kid in the 1940s, growing up listening to NBC programs the radio, then watching them on TV.  Consider witnessing that progression and seeing how revolutionary those developments were in terms of the overall impact on society.  Imagine yourself as the adult that that child of the ’40s had become; NBC had been a part of your life for as long as you could remember.  First it entertained you with radio programs like Little Orphan Annie and Tom Mix, then it inspired you through documenting historical events like the moon landing, then it informed your political decisions and brought you late breaking news from all around the world.  Now imagine being contacted by NBC; imagine their asking you join them as they begin to forge new frontiers in the mass communication industry.  That’s what being contacted by Microsoft felt like for me — they’ve been the pioneers out there on the forefront of groundbreaking technologies for as long as I can remember.  To have a viable shot at being a part of whatever was in store for Microsoft’s future seemed too good to be true, but at the same time, too fascinating a prospect to ignore.

One year, 3,084 miles, one corporate housing apartment, one regular apartment and one home purchase later, here I am… clear across the country from everyone and everything that’s ever been familiar to me and working for one of the largest companies in the world. It’s been an amazing, intellectually challenging and humbling ride thus far.  I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it is to work for a company that you know has, beyond the shadow of a doubt, changed the world and continues to strive toward improving the way we live, work and play. 

So what can I tell you about interviewing at Microsoft? Go through the links below and heed their advice. Was it a difficult transition to move from New England to the Pacific Northwest? At times. Do I feel like a fish out of water? Not as much as I did around this time last year. Do people know how to drive out here? Hell no… it’s flat out infuriating to know you’re in the minority in understanding that each of the highway lanes actually has a specific function. But I digress…

I suppose now would be the time for me to call out that all views expressed on this blog are my own and in no way are endorsed by Microsoft… or whatever the proper legal mumbo jumbo would be to let you know that this is not a Microsoft-sponsored blog. I love to write and I love technology, both have been my hobbies for a number of years, but I’ve gotten away from the former ever since my son was born almost two years ago. They say there’s no time like the present, so here I am. It’s been one hell of a year and I’ve got plenty to write about, so if you’re reading this shortly after 4/14/08, you’re in on the ground floor… be patient, I’ll write more as time and opportunity permits.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for your attention… now, on to the goods. The resources below are links I found while searching for content relating to preparing for a job interview with Microsoft. Some are more beneficial than others, but how it applies to you depends on the position you’re going for. Take notes wherever you find value and incorporate the advice you glean into your preparations — that’s what I did and it served me well. Good luck!

HR Staff Blog:
http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/archive/2004/04/19/116110.aspx

Microsoft employee blog offering interview tips:
http://dirtydogstink.com/blog/2006/06/15/TipsForInterviewingAtMicrosoft.aspx

Podcast interview w/ Head of Staffing:
http://www.totalpicture.com//_qt/spitasky.mp3

Microsoft employee blog w/ interview story & tips:
http://tejas.wordpress.com/2005/11/30/microsoft-interview/

Video – Recruiting staffers at MS headquarters (part 1):
http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=18472

Video – Recruiting staffers at MS headquarters (part 2):
http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=18718

Random bits and pieces on MS interviews/questions/advice:
http://www.sellsbrothers.com/fun/msiview/

Hoovers Company Fact Sheet:
http://hoovers.com/microsoft/–ID__14120–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml

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