Microsoft Senior Researcher Software Engineer
Northeastern University Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Computer Engineering
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
So right now I'm a Senior Researcher, Software Engineer at Microsoft. I did a few graduate school degrees, so I have a master's in computer engineering and a PhD in computer engineering as well. I think the main reason how I get where I am it's basically on networking. A lot was depending on who I was surrounded by, and I think that's very much important. So here's to give an example my PhD adviser was very well known in the industry and academia. So for me, it was very important to go to lab research for my PhD so I can launder to a good position. Once I was done with my PhD, that happened. I did a few internships when I was a PhD student. I did one for a year at Apple and two more at another company in the Boston area. I did my PhD at the Eastern University in Boston, and then once I finished, I got a job at the research scientist at Intel. I joined Intel. I'm located right now in the Silicon Valley area. And that was a really good opportunity for me to learn more about the industry, how you can do apply research in the industry. And then once I was there, I learned more about what you can do it in more sophisticated way for the industry. Before I was very academic-oriented. And then Microsoft came along and I thought that was a nice next opportunity for me, for my career growth, and then that is how I ended up here now with Microsoft.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
Yeah, so that's very flexible in my case. I spent a lot of time a close collaboration with different teams. So I have a good chunk of meetings. I have at least 30% 40% of meetings. You know, remotely. I don't have to be locally in the building and plus my team is actually located in Redmond in Washington. And I'm here in Sunnyvale in California so that can be from home. That is not necessary for me to be in the office. I'd rather be at the office of being there. For me, it's a much nicer environment, and then the rest of the time will be divided. I do 10-20% of research in terms, of checking data to review, seeing what is the state of the art, how we can apply that to our current cases in the current problems. And the rest of the time, I think will be applied to actually do to the thinking, the development, and experiments. So I think there will be three major chunks like one will be meetings, another one will be stay updated with the team if they are, and the last one will be actually development.

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools more than the others? Why?

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
 My preference is entirely computing and high-performance computing and for that, given that you're trying to achieve high-performance execution, it more adores cluster execution. So it's more in the terminal base access into clusters and servers. So my preference for that regard will be a specific tool that will access to terminals. So command line execution is my favorite. It has much flexibility and elasticity for me to navigate through the things that I want to do. In terms of Frameworks, I'm heavily working on the Meteor right now, so we use the Meteor frameworks. We don't have a preference whatsoever. A C++, of course, for high performance. I developed different quality programming algorithms so that will be depending on what kind of architecture we're targeting. So far CUDA is the one which is taking the market, so CUDA might be a good option. But honestly as far as it's a terminal and common line. I think that's my preference. And you know, you can add on top of that Git and all of those classic tools, but I think that will be very close to my expertise. 

What things do you like about your job? Were there any pleasant surprises?

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
In the big corporations which have been my experience, like I worked for Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, the surprising thing in Microsoft was the culture and environment. I think Satya did a great job with a grown mindset and the inclusion of people from different diversities is also great. So the working environment is very good which was a very nice surprise. What things do I like about my job? I think it applies to all the different companies, not only to the one in which I am right now. I think it is research-oriented and I can pursue research because it is something very new, it's a challenge that hasn't been faced or solved yet. So you can try different things which one would work and it is very very fulfilling for me to see that we are developing a new frontier and a new, innovative solution. 

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
I have people that are principal engineers and researchers. That will be my major interaction because we're developing something that was part of Microsoft research before so we're still having a lot of those connections. But we also interact with a lot of engineers and junior engineers. There are some mentorship programs that we do that include interacting with a lot of junior developers. Outside of the company, I think we're still on the same level as, staff engineer or a principal engineer given the work that we're doing right now.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
Challenge that I face in my work. I think it's because it's a cross-collaboration across different teams and not only within the company. It might also include third-party and that will include you and all of them aligned in terms of timeline and execution. And that can be challenging, given that every single team has their own priority and their own time and execution, so it doesn't necessarily sync up with your particular timeline, so that can be challenging in terms of the collaboration. So how you want to spend your cycles and given that we have to put together different groups to execute when we want to do it, that also is challenging to align all of them. So I think that will be one of the challenges and that the other thing, that it's kind of a challenge. And at the same time, the main reason why I am satisfied with this job is research like environment. There is this uncertainty about the things that we're doing. If we're going to be as successful as we think we are, so there is always that level on the research and you know you will be given the alliance might be in the research expectorant. Sometimes you do research, and that might not lead to the best outcome. But that's still research, that's still data point that you can use for the rooster. So that's what it's like in this industry as well. It takes a little more weight, given that it's a lot of cycles of different people in this, you know, it's the industry we work in.

What was the hiring process like for your job? What were the roles of people who interviewed you? What kind of questions were asked?

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
My hiring process was a little unique. Anything that's very tight to my experience in the industry. When I moved to the area for my full time with Intel, I was approached by the Microsoft Research Group. There was a group on the genomic group. They were looking for somebody with my expertise, and they thought that I will be a good candidate. But given that I was joining until I felt was no, not the best time for me to actually explore that opportunity. So, yes leave the connection on, stay in touch with the person. And once I was ready to explore different opportunities I reached out to this person and that put me in the core group that I am. So that was my connection to see what was going on on what opportunities offer me. So that's how I got through the interview looper on all of that during my hiring process for people actually interviewing. I think most of them were senior in years of principle in juniors, even than my role right now is senior, and the question that I asked for three different spectrums one will be from the whiteboard, according to questions. The other one was on the research like questions. What we can do on the research from the research perspective applied to the problem that we're trying to do. And the third one will be more on the leadership. What is the mission that I have for the role? What are the thing that we are expecting from the team and the position that I was applying for.

What qualities does your team look for while hiring? How does your team interview candidates?

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
My team has some openings right now. My team is growing really quickly. So we have roles that are senior roles, also some roles which are tailored to junior. And depending upon the role, I think the qualities would change. I think we will be looking for a good mixture of research and engineering. We have a lot of engineer roles opening, but given we're coming from a research group, it's kind of a mixture of the two things. How does my team interview candidates? I think it's very typical on the industry. The process is, there will be two screenings. One will be with the hiring manager here, and the second one will be once it goes to the next phase will be on-site, depending on what is the level of the role it can include even a presentation or talk pretty typical on the research environment. And then there will be maybe three to five one on one with different interviewers at the company exploring different skill sets

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Senior Researcher Software Engineer, Microsoft
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
So it depends, actually on the degree, And I think that applies to all the companies. So as a PhD, you come you land to a higher level in every company. And then from that, you grow from that. You come from a Master's then you will land in a little lower than appears the end of something with a bachelor. So you will have to go through the steps of growing your career to get to land to the position that I am right now. The entry-level jobs can be either research engineer. My previous role was a research scientist. My career rose as a senior researcher, but it's more towards engineering than just research. All of the big companies have the particularly standard way of thinking about the degree and how you learned to towards that. So I will say that it depends on which company they're going to? What kind of entry-level you're looking for in the engineering or the research?

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? Discuss weekly hours you spent in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Research Scientist, Intel Corporation
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020
At Intel, I was a research scientist and I was part of the pathfinding and innovation team. We were part of this new development of Intel to move from a hardware-centric to a data-centric company. I was heavily young computer vision and image processing, So we were developing these three d reconstructions to capture to develop a new technology for the customers for the users like you can see your games in three-D, you can see a movie and really how you interact and you can add on top of that, a new layer of interactions. Such as VR or a headset, mixed reality. So that was a spectrum that I was working on. My responsibilities were more towards the innovation that I can bring to the table that is new to the market and you can call that intellectual property point of view. So patterns were heavily my workload as writing different patterns, submitting different patterns. The publication was part of that one as well. But is much more value in the industry than the submission of papers. Well, submission of paper is more valuable in the academic environment and then the decision that I will make to work was that we were developing these concepts, not necessarily a product. So the decisions will be towards how we invest our cycles or what is the best way to achieve this particularly POC, the proof of concept really quickly so we can showcase our particular idea. So, the VP's and the heads of the business unit can see that this is actually something very useful. And given that I was on the computer vision and image processing, so it's more visual. So it was a lot of POC that was part of mixed reality or VR, similar to the screening that you have. These three are constructions. My weekly hours in the office, inclusive of traveling as well, the major hours in the offices for Intel were in Oregon. So I travel a lot there. A lot of quotations like I will say maybe once a month, I go to conferences depending on the topic and again, hours were flexible in terms of your working. Because I have collaborated with people all across the world like Houston, Oregon. And I have people in Massachusetts, in LA, even in China and the main are indeed the actual, in years developing was in Israel. So it was worldwide communication. So they didn't mind if I was at the office or not. But again, you'd rather be at the office. In that aspect, a good 50% of my time were more meetings than actual developing. I didn't have that much time to actually do development in that particular role.

How did the program prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Computer Engineering, Northeastern University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jan 02 2020