Microsoft Aspire 101

Applications for Microsoft Aspire are officially out (UPDATE: for the USA… Canada is supposedly coming out mid-August)! Start dates are in 2021 and I am sharing some details about the program to encourage students in their final years or new grads to apply ?

P.S. Stay Tuned for Part 2 With Tips and Advice For Your Application

What is an “Aspire”?

At Microsoft, the Aspire Experience is for new grads who have recently completed their Undergrad, Masters, PhD, or MBA studies. It is a 2 year non-rotational learning and development program. From Day 1, you’re thrown into to chaos and complexity of the role that you’re chosen for, and there are great conferences and initiatives that support you along the way.

Recently, I attended #VirtualStartStrong, which was a conference that took place virtually for the first time because of COVID-19. It was a series of keynotes and professional development sessions that echoed my conference experiences in AIESEC when I was in university. I enjoyed meeting incredible Aspires from around the world using the Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms and hearing from amazing speakers who were filled with passion and energy (stay tuned for a future blog with details).

In addition to conferences, the Aspire community hosts many speaker sessions with well seasoned executives across Microsoft to share their career paths, experiences, and lessons learned. As someone who loves the opportunity to listen and learn (pssst check out my leadership series), I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far!

Applications that open up in July will be for start dates in the following year. The majority of Aspires start in July, but there are some (such as myself) who start earlier on depending on the team’s needs.

What’s the process and timeline like?

Based on my personal experience from 2019:

July? Applied for the positions I was interested in

Note: the application link may show Redmond USA but I would apply for both USA (now) and Canada (in Aug) just in case. Depending on if the process changes, you could be able to choose locations in the Candidate Interest Form later in the process.
Early September? Invited to first round of interviews (via phone)
Late September? Filled out a Candidate Interest Form to indicate which roles and locations I preferred

Note: Since there are a limited number of interview spots for each of the roles available, you are still not guaranteed an invitation to the final round of interviews at this stage.
Early November? Selected to attend final round of interviews (in person)
Mid November? Attended 2 rounds of interviews and campus tour
Late November? Informed of full-time offer

Why Join Microsoft?

? The growth mindset culture is contagious, and we feel empowered to tackle the world’s problems with our curiosity and creative ideas. There is a huge focus on making an impact through our actions, so we are always challenged to think bigger and beyond ourselves. Whereas some companies may be more reluctant to share responsibility and project ownership with students and new grads, Microsoft welcomes our fresh perspectives and embraces our initiative. I have seen so many co-op students and Aspires take part in international projects, gain great exposure, and tackle complex problems as soon as they start.

? Microsoft cares about us. The workload and responsibility is definitely no joke, but we’re constantly reminded to take care of our mental health, make time for personal learning and development, and try new things. We have access to a plethora of world class resources and benefits to enhance our productivity, give back to the community, and explore our personal well-being.

? Our mission is relevant to everyone on this planet. We don’t just talk about the impact we want to make around the world. Everyday, we’re going out there to make it happen. We partner with organizations to take causes and initiatives seriously, and we have dedicated millions of dollars to drive change in the society. Furthermore, our leadership team engages in an open dialogue within the company and acknowledges that we still have our own progress to make.

How Should You Get Started?

  1. Learn more about Microsoft Aspire through personal research
  2. Look at the different full-time opportunities available on our Microsoft Careers portal and determine which ones you’re interested in
  3. Fix up that resume and make sure that you tailor it to your program of interest (Tip: Submit it to Resume Rescue for feedback from someone who has been through the process)

Stay tuned for next week’s blog, Microsoft Aspire 202, for tips and advice from Aspires who have successfully landed the job!