How I Got into Microsoft through the Microsoft LEAP Apprenticeship Program — Nairobi Cohort 1
It has been about 5 months since I joined Microsoft, a company I had always dreamed of working for, and during this time I have learned a lot and met really amazing people. Apart from that, I have also met people who wanted to know how I got the opportunity so that they could also give it a shot or refer it to someone who is interested. I, therefore, decided to write about my experience, hoping that it will help answer most of the questions that interested people might have, in case it doesn’t, please feel free to ask me anything in the comment section.
Like any other job, the first this you are supposed to do is apply for it. That’s exactly what I did. I applied through a link that I found on social media, which brought me to Microsoft’s official website (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/leap/). After verifying that I had all the requirements, I started the application process, which included filling an application form, providing all the required documents as well as access to my LinkedIn profile and other resources. The apprenticeship program available was for the Software Engineering pathway, and that is what I applied for. Apart from that, applicants also had to create and share their resume, formatted in Markdown, using GitHub Gist. Here’s mine: https://gist.github.com/mercytum/ab200145d58fa1432d6fd359115f540d. This was definitely a learning experience for me as I had never done that before — I was already learning even before I got into the program, great!
After the application, I waited a few days and got an email notifying me that I made it to the next step, which was a technical test. A link was sent and I had 4 chances to take the technical assessment, which had a pass mark of 60% / 70% (I can’t remember the exact number). The assessment was mainly on the C# language (it would therefore be wise to familiarize yourself with it if you plan to apply) and took about half an hour to complete.
Once done, after passing the assessment, the next step involved an actual interview, with 2 interviewers. This part was meant to mainly test one’s technical and problem-solving skills. We had the opportunity to do the technical interview using the language of our choice, and I chose Python. The interviewers were very friendly and really wanted me to succeed. They provided me with a question and watched as I solved it. At this point, I made sure to communicate what I was doing or planning to do to solve the problem. This way, the interviewers were able to understand my thought process and could easily ask me follow-up questions. Personally, I did not manage to finish coding my solution, because time was running out, but my thought process was correct.
A few days later, which seemed like weeks, I got a confirmation email saying that I got in. I was ecstatic! I actually made it!
After some days of celebration, the program started on May 5th, a day before my birthday — this was the perfect birthday gift I could ever ask for! The Leap program included actual classes, mentorship from Software Engineers working at Microsoft, assessment tests, and working on an actual project (a bot project). It was a handful! During this time, I learned and got better at Data Structures and Algorithms, C#, the .NET framework, and Microsoft Bot Framework. Some of the tools and resources that came in handy include:
- Visual Studio (https://visualstudio.microsoft.com/)
- LinkedIn Learning (https://www.linkedin.com/learning/)
- Microsoft Docs (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/)
- Pluralsight (https://www.pluralsight.com/)
- Leetcode (https://leetcode.com/)
- Coderbyte (https://coderbyte.com/)
- Codility (https://www.codility.com/)
The program was 3 months long and required a lot of dedication and hard work. The results were also satisfying as you could see growth with every passing week. The mentors and everyone involved were very supportive and extremely helpful and nice. Previously, I had tried learning how to code without great success, and I can certainly say that the reason why this worked is because of the immense support and guidance that we got — what every newbie needs.
After the program was over, 4 of my colleagues and I got a chance to interview for another apprenticeship program and got in (You can read it here: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/microsoftleap_microsoftleap-africarising-activity-6706639762146562048-VkeO). This is my current position while writing this article in the hopes of getting a permanent position in the near future.
The experience has been very interesting, insightful, and fun! I have certainly grown as a Software Engineer and believe that this is just the beginning. There is so much more to learn and I am happy that I am in the best place and position to do so. The support has been more than I could have ever imagined and the environment is perfect for growth and development. I am really happy and deeply honored to have been part of this experience and I am eager to see what the future holds. I hope more people get such opportunities as they truly are life-changing!