IST student enjoys internship at Microsoft, awarded scholarship

Leah Kim, a senior at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, says that while growing up, she was ahead of the curve when it came to acquiring new gadgets.

“I was like an early adopter,” she said. “I always got cool new things.”

Kim, who will graduate from the College of IST in December 2012, is now exploring a career in delivering cutting-edge technologies into the hands of consumers. This summer, she has been doing an internship at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Wash., a suburb of Seattle. In recognition of her efforts, she has been awarded a scholarship by the company for the 2012-2013 school year.

Microsoft awarded scholarships to students attending a total of 46 schools in the latest round of education funding. Microsoft scholarships are awarded based on a number of criteria, including merit, diversity, commitment to leadership and a nominee’s interest in a career in technology.

As an intern at Microsoft, Kim acts as solution manager on the cloud computing team, which manages products that support the delivery of computing and storage capacity as a service.

“The big goal of the team is to develop and implement business intelligence tools for future release,” she said.

Kim, who is originally from Seoul, South Korea, attended Pius X High School in the Poconos area. She started at Penn State as an education major, she said, but was “looking for something different.” One of her friends was majoring in IST, and Kim was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the program.

“It’s like a little bit of business and a little bit of computer science, which is what I liked about it,” she said.

She applied for the Microsoft internship through a Penn State career fair, and said initially she was “pretty intimidated” by the prospect of talking to representatives of an internationally renowned company. When she finally approached them, however, she found them to be very friendly.

After the initial interview on campus, Kim said, she was invited to an interview at Microsoft headquarters, where she met “a lot of smart people from all over the world” at a pre-interview dinner for all of the interviewers and applicants. The next day, she underwent a six-hour interview with several Microsoft executives.

“I just tried to stay positive and confident and tell them what I could do for them,” she said.

In her role at Microsoft, Kim acts as a liaison between different groups, including engineers and business executives. She also helps arrange meetings with testers of new products and tracks on reported issues by sending them through the appropriate channels.

“You can learn technical things as long as you try hard,” she said. “It’s more difficult to communicate with people and make the right decisions.”

Kim says that she hasn’t decided what she wants to do after graduating from the College of IST, and that she pursued the internship at Microsoft “to see what options are out there.” Since starting the internship, she said, she has learned a lot about the technology industry, particularly in regards to its competitiveness.

“So many people are trying to provide something new and different every day,” she said.

Despite the intensity of the Microsoft environment, her internship experience hasn’t been all work and no play. She has been busy hitting up tourist spots around Seattle, she said, and has enjoyed meeting people from all over the world, including other interns and regular employees.

While there are fewer female interns at Microsoft, Kim said, a lot of women work on her team and in other divisions of the company. More women may be drawn to technology, she added, if they understood the variety of careers that are available within the field.

“Just because it’s technology, not everything has to do with coding and ‘tech stuff’,” she said.

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Last Updated August 02, 2012