A-Z Of Employers: Microsoft

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The Independent Online

What does it do?

If you don't know, perhaps a job in IT is not for you, as for the past two decades Microsoft has built itself a reputation as world leader on the computer software scene, and the chairman Bill Gates is probably the best known business figure on the globe. Microsoft's Windows systems provide the brains for more computers than any other firm, although the opposition is closing in on a number of fronts. Founded in the USA in 1975, the company now has seven core business units, serving individual and commercial customers, and, via the internet, occupying a large chunk of the communications and entertainment market. The UK subsidiary was formed in 1982, and now employs 1,500 people. It says its role is to "enable all people in the UK to learn, work and play better."

Vital statistics:

Worldwide, Microsoft employs 61,000 people in 60 countries. Last year it generated income of nearly $37bn, which is around £20bn

The office:

The worldwide headquarters are in Seattle, in the north-west corner of the States. The British operation is based in the Thames Valley Business Park, near Reading, with satellite offices in central London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin.

Is this you?

Nearly 30 graduates are being taken on this year, split between three "academies" in the areas of marketing, sales and technical. Microsoft won't consider applications from anyone with more than 18 months work-experience post-degree.

The recruitment process:

Your application, via www.microsoft.com/uk/graduates, is first screened by Microsoft's recruitment agency, which selects applicants for a telephone chat, and maybe face-to-face interview and aptitude tests. This interview is videoed and sent to Microsoft, which then chooses candidates for a final assessment at their Reading site. Here, there are more interviews, group exercises and presentations. Those taken on are based in Reading, but spend much of the first year on the move, starting with a week's visit to corporate HQ in the USA. On return, training lasts a year, and includes a number of courses, some in Europe, taken together with other graduates following the same career path. After training, technical recruits receive a string of letters after their name: MCSE, standing for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Sales and marketing graduates have to survive without a fancy title.

Top dollar?

Starting salary is £23,500, and all graduates get a signing-on bonus of £1,000.

Beam me up Scotty?

An idea of possible post training roles is available at www.microsoft.com/uk/careers. Among the more eye-catching departments you could enter are the Developer and Platform Evangelists, or the Original Equipment Manufacturers.

Who's the boss?

Alistair Baker, Microsoft's MD, joined IBM after graduating in computing and informatics in 1985, and moved to Microsoft in 1996.

Little-known fact:

Every year, Microsoft workers at the Reading site consume eight tons of company- provided fruit.