Meet Sharon Koshy, Project Manager at Microsoft
I’m Sharon Koshy, I’m a project manager in technology and civic engagement for Microsoft. So in general, a project manager is responsible for assembling a project team, scoping what the work is that needs to be accomplished on a particular project, managing resources and deadlines and making sure that the project is moving forward at every stage of the process. And then also communicating with every stakeholder or colleague that needs to be involved in the project. As an example of a project that I have worked on, I was responsible for interviewing a range of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup. It’s a student technology competition that Microsoft has held for over a decade. And this video is showcased at the competition that was held in Australia. So I was responsible for working with my boss to determine who those spokespersons were, to make sure that they were effectively prepared to be in those interviews and then working with the production team to create the final deliverable that was shown at the competition. So it was a very exciting process. And it’s great to see a project like that from start to finish.
Another example of a project that I worked on was organizing a very large summit that involved hundreds of people as well as our company’s CEO. I was involved from everything from speaker management to all of the event production to working with my extended team to make sure that everyone knew what their responsibilities were and that the summit went off without a hitch. So that was one of the biggest projects that I worked on early in my career and it was a terrific experience.
I earned my bachelors degree and I was a premed student at the time. I took a contract position at Microsoft in the year after I graduated from college and I found that I really enjoyed working in technology. As an organized and structured thinker I found that I got a lot of satisfaction over starting something and seeing it through to completion. And so it’s been a really terrific work experience for me.
When it comes to project management there’s nothing like actually getting on-the-job experience. And so once you start on a particular project and when you have completed it and have a chance to actually debrief and understand what you learn from that particular project and what you can apply to the next one, those experiences build on one another. And soon you become even more confident and experienced to take on bigger and bigger projects.
So for high school students who are interested in exploring project management, it’s really important to be well-rounded. So it’s important to have basic business skills, to work on your communications skills and understand how to assemble and lead a team. These are all really critical skills to being an effective project manager. It’s also incredibly helpful to start getting experience in project management. So for high school students I would really recommend taking the opportunity to manage projects. Whether it’s in a volunteer capacity that you’re working on or in other extracurricular activities, really take the time to manage a project. And ask yourself if you enjoy managing the details and scoping a particular piece of work. And seeing if you are at a completion. Because if you find yourself energized by managing those kinds of processes, then project management would be worth considering as your career.
So one of the biggest lessons that I have learned is it’s really helpful to be open in your career. I myself was a career changer. Sometimes you have a very concrete plan of what you want to do but sometimes life can help you see things differently. And so it’s really important to be open to some of those opportunities and embrace them when they come across.