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3 Things I Learned in March: my Microsoft Interns4Afrika Experience

My internship experience featured *unodiscuss

My placement message

The Epiphany

You could consider it an epiphany of sorts. At exactly 10:43A.M on the 20th of February, 2017 I received the mail above from Fuzu.com. Just like many other job applications I had made in the past, I had already resigned to fate probably seeing this application as one out of many that will go through the very familiar routine of rejection.

Or was the jinx broken? A sprinkling of pessimistic thoughts welled up within me as I remunerated on a phrase in the mail that read, “…the decision to interview rests with the Microsoft partner as the prospective employer”. If this was a suspense-filled movie, the Directors deserved an Oscar.

Long story short, I was invited for an interview.

mail of my interview invite

I was both happy and scared at the same time. When I got the above mail on the 21st of February by 9:54A.M., 535KM away from Lagos, I knew I was in a fix. Was it worth it taking the risk of going for an interview – an interview that was discouraging from the twin perspectives of distance and uncertainty? Let me not bore you with the details.

Reality Beckons

Good news is, the next day I got a congratulatory call that I was successful. Like an AC circuit, my mind pulsated between screaming and bland introspection. I was in a fix of emotional turbulence.

After collecting my offer letter dated the 27th of February, my premonition of the experiences to follow transcended what I had earlier imagined.

After collecting my offer letter, I was told to resume on the 1st of March to commence work/training both as an Intern, Software Developer in Sidmach Technologies and ‘remotely’, as a Technical Support Trainee in the  Microsoft Interns4Afrika Programme.

My colleagues and I, on resumption were given some form of induction-related Powerpoint presentations hinged on general appearance(s), company values and standards and procedures to adhere to. This was all done under a serene atmosphere of warmth and relaxation.

Subsequently, I was introduced to the various departments viz a viz, SSD (The Software Solutions Division), the Legal Division, the Sales Division and the Human Resources Division.

My colleagues – comely they are, and I, found the introduction we were given quite friendly and enthusiastic. The enthusiasm of the staff was infectious, as it was motivating.

I was also introduced to the heads and staff of various departments – more particularly, on 2nd of March, 2017.

And finally, I was assigned a mentor, Mr. Augustine Nwagboso and was briefed by him about the demands and constraints of my job role.


 

It was impossible not to take note of some basic nuggets I would be listing out presently:

1.    Court Rejection

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

The above quote, ascribed to Winston Churchill summarizes this nugget. It sounds counterintuitive. Court rejection? Sounds stupid, but there is a lot of hidden gems you may come to discover therein.

A popular terminology in Project Management and Planning is phrased “the worst-case scenario“. In other words, what, in your opinion, is the worst thing that could happen? For example, if you are going for an exam, the worst thing that could happen is that you fail! You may feel bad, but a bad score isn’t in any way imprinted on your face. You are still you.

READ: 5 Sure Ways to Deal with Rejection

On that same note, if you go for a job interview, what is the worst thing that could happen? You will be rejected! You won’t be slapped, or shot, or hung, except of course you choose that course. 

I remember going for an interview sometime ago when, after all questions asked and answered, I was replied with the ‘best’ cliche of all job interviews: “we will get back to you”. There was no need. That fanciful, diplomatic response was unnecessary, as I already understood the import of its true meaning. If I remember correctly, the sun seemed to burn hotter than usual. My knees wobbled in my thoroughly ironed trouser. Then I smiled and my inner self suggested to me, “why not put this rejection on your CV?”. Laughing as I thought about that implausible suggestion, I got back the warmth of my true value.

The point is, appreciating the worst-case scenario ensures that you don’t lose focus of your goal, your mindset, your target. Why? Allowing a temporal rejection get to you closes your eyes and blocks your mind to opportunities.

I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat. –  Sylvester Stallone

2. Reach for the top

A more common phrasing is “aim for the top”. It sounds straightforward but really, once in a while, don’t folks aim for what is on the ground? Aiming for the top only accentuates what the priority of your efforts should be on.

Within the last couple of months when the Microsoft Interns4Afrika program was advertised, I posted the links on my facebook page as well as on my blog. Suffice it to say that I had 1 like on my Facebook post. Why? My friends did not consider it an effort worth attending to. “MICROSOFT?”. That is too high! I am content with that ‘tiny’ filling station nearby. Apologies to filling stations nearby, the point I am making is, you have what it takes to apply for the top companies. The fact that you applied in the first place shows courage and grit.

It may sound hilarious, but I regularly scout for and apply to top shots like Google, the British High Commission, etc etc. Even when I get an autoresponder email from one of their ever-bugged emails, I schedule some part of my time to read through my “rejection” mails. Haha. I’m not scared to reach for the top.

I’m sure the inquisitive ones want proof.

My google application

Yes, I am a proud recipient of the above rejection mail. Have I lost anything? Actually I have gained.

 

READ: The Pleasures of Defeat

 

3. Be patient

 

It is very easy to theorize and trivialize the above nugget, especially when cliches like “the patient dog eats the fattest bone” are voiced. 

Well, intuitively, patience is the willingness to adequately wait for the proper outcome of an event. So, for instance, if one is scheduled for a meeting at a venue, it is actually joblessness not patience to wait perpetually for 3 hours or more beyond the agreed-upon meeting time.

A fundamental thing to note however, is that waiting within the limits of your productivity is a great price to pay for success. 

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. – Napoleon Hill

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. – Lao Tzu

Many of the much-aged greats discovered the secret of patience. You cannot hatch an egg by smashing it than by just being patient till it hatches. 

My colleagues, and I applied since November of 2016. Some of them confessed to me that in truth, they had forgotten about the application. No, not in a care-free or nonplussed tone, but in a tone that suggested that they were ready to wait it out. We-are-in-this-together tone. And it paid off.

The next time you want to be discouraged by the feeling of passing time, pinch yourself and say “be patient”.


Coming up soon:

I will be posting about “3 Nuggets to take note of for the month of April”. These and many more will form a series of my Microsoft4Afrika experiences.

 

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About the author

Johnmark Obiefuna

A Computer Scientist by profession and a writer by hobby. A liberal, ardent reader and observer of philosophical and religious views. I play the keyboard proficiently, give public talks and I'm also involved in a chess club.

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