- JSerra News
JSerra Business Magnet Program Director Carol Chaffee always knew alumnus Ian Yu ('16) was extraordinary.
"I often find myself pulling students along, begging them to complete their assignments and tend to their responsibilities, but with Ian it was always the exact opposite," said Chaffee. "Every day he was in my room with new ideas and plans for the program."
It was no surprise then when Yu shared exciting news with his former teacher: he had obtained an internship at Microsoft this past summer and subsequently a job offer to join the prestigious company full-time upon graduating in June 2020.
Currently a senior at the University of Washington, Yu is majoring in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
"Human computer interaction design is basically a profession in which you bring technology and humanity together," explained Yu. "You study social awareness and how technology fits into everyday human life, so there's a lot of design, psychology, marketing, and anthropology. It falls under design but modern-day technology is BDT work model [Business, Design and Technology], which is where companies develop product as a group: you have an engineer who's in charge of the tech aspect, and the design people — such as me — who consider how the interaction might look like, how it will appeal to the customer through customer and design research, and figure out how the technology impacts the consumer's life. Design is basically the advocate on the consumer side. Then you have the business people who are the project managers, and they advocate from the business perspective and determine how a set price benefits the company."
Yu heard about the internship from a recruiter who reached out to him through LinkedIn, which Yu first created in high school and regularly updates. Through LinkedIn and networking in real life, Yu has found that "connections go a long way. There's nothing wrong with asking for help and helping others along the way. Connections go a long way, and if we show gratitude and aren't arrogant, career and life will be much smoother. Plus, people love to help college students!"
During his 12-week internship at Microsoft in Redmond, WA, he worked on multiple proprietary big data projects.
"I was placed in Azure, which is a cloud computing platform that empowers businesses with technology for cloud computing and AI [artificial intelligence] learning. In such a big company like Microsoft, I learned that you can't work within your own comfort zone anymore — you have to work with professionals in many different fields. You're no longer just talking to the business people — you're also dealing with engineers, data scientists, and designers. Effective communication, cross platform communication, and cross field communication is the new way the tech world is moving."
In addition to learning and putting the knowledge he has learned thus far in college to use, he also had a great time immersing himself in the Microsoft culture.
"Experience can be baggage, but as established as Microsoft is, they're constantly pumping color into projects and inspiring people to pursue passion. Everyone is very smart, understanding, and willing to help each other. We're human and make errors, and it's an encouraging environment to make mistakes," said Yu.
Yu ties his return offer to the business perspective instilled in him while under Chaffee's tutelage.
"BMP did a great job curating activities like FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America] and treating these ideas early so we could get a taste for what the business world is like and decide early on if it was for us," he said. "I've seen college students go in thinking they want to be businessmen and doctors, but then they take a class and realize they hate it. Being in a Magnet program helps you get a sense for whether the field is right for you."
As hard as Yu has worked during his first three years at Washington to earn an offer from a company as influential as Microsoft, this year he plans to take the advice he shares with other students: "Explore. Don't constrain yourself. Take the class you know nothing about. Don't let your major define who you are. Put 100% in and you'll get 100% back. Don't miss a class — you pay tuition for that class, and every time you miss it, that's something like $300 out the window. But most importantly, always strive to find a balance between fun and work."
During his final year at Washington Yu plans to meet as many people as possible and join either a volleyball or boxing club. He looks forward to taking a little time off after graduation (and before beginning his full-time career) to unplug and travel.
"It's been a pleasure watching Ian excel during his college years," said Chaffee. "He's been able to capitalize on the skills he learned in the Business Magnet Program and I have no doubt this is only the beginning."