Speaking at PCC – Careers in Technology

MSCollegeCareersLast Tuesday I gave a presentation on careers available in technology. This event was set up by Portland Community College Sylvania campus, and the Microsoft Innovation Center.

We had an XBox 360 set up for students to play Halo 3, I talked about careers for 25 minutes, a program manager from Ascentium spoke and there was a raffle. Students seemed to receive the presentation well. The presentation was given in the Campus Commons at PCC Sylvania campus. The Campus Commons is a large indoor mall like area with a book store, administrative offices and the cafeteria. At the beginning of the talk I was handed a microphone. As I was speaking into the microphone, I noticed my voice had become the ‘overhead, booming voice from everywhere.’ I could hear my voice coming back to me from about half a football field away. That part was a little surreal, and took a little getting used to.

I met some motivated students that asked some great questions about securing a career in the technical field. The event was focused on the recent release of the game Halo 3, and the careers available in the game industry. During my presentation, I focused on the following technical oriented career areas. Click a career category to find additional information about those careers.

Career Opportunities

Software and Hardware Development

  • Program Manager
  • Software Design Engineer
  • Software Design Engineer in Test
  • Hardware Design Engineer
  • Test Apprentice Program

User Experience

  • Technical Writer
  • Programmer Writer
  • Usability Engineer
  • User Experience Researcher
  • User Experience Designer

IT Operations



Technical Consulting / Services

Besides speaking about the different careers available, I gave the students resources for additional information and tools to help them in the future.

Microsoft Career Information

Microsoft’s college career site contains information for the college student. This site is a wealth of information and resources about career requirements and understanding the corporate culture at Microsoft. If you are attending college and interested in a career at Microsoft, it is worthwhile to review the College Careers site.


Another excellent resource is Channel 8, a community and video site dedicated to students.

Developer Resources

It is important to not only understand career specifics, but know the tools that are available to help you reach your goals. The following resources are developer specific.

Visual Studio Developer Center


Free Hobbyist Visual Studio Edition


XNA Game Studio Express – Developer Center


The students that I talked to seemed interested, or at least faked it well. Some students even hung around and asked questions after the raffle was finished, so I guess I started some conversations, which was the goal.

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10 Responses to “Speaking at PCC – Careers in Technology”

  1. teeni Says:

    Sounds like it went really well. That is great. I bet the video game definitely got some students interested! LOL. I’m a burned out technical writer or I’d apply. 😉

  2. Thomas Says:

    teeni – The group of students I was talking to seemed pretty involved and interested, so I felt pretty fortunate. Halo 3 was a great way to start the conversation, and then I followed that up with specific careers.

    As I said the ‘overhead, booming voice from everywhere’ took a little getting used to, but it was fun.

  3. Opal Tribble/Vegan Momma Says:

    Man I would have been on that especially with a great plug like Halo 3! Great bait on Microsoft’s part. I bet you attracted a lot to see Halo and I’m sure they stayed around because you are one interesting Tech Evangelist.

    I hope you had a chance to check out Halo 3 for yourself. You could always tell them you need to test it out at home in doing so you would be able to connect with the games more effectively. 😉

  4. Opal Tribble/Vegan Momma Says:

    “games” should have been “gamers”.

  5. Thomas Says:

    Opal – After the beta, I haven’t had a chance to touch Halo 3 or my XBox 360 lately. I am still in the middle of Stranglehold and Tenchu Z, and I know if I buy Halo 3, I might not finish the other games.

    Yeah, I need to test it . . . that’s the ticket 😉

  6. TGH Says:

    That is exactly why I didn’t buy Stranglehold. I knew there was a string of games (Bioshock, Halo 3, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, Orange Box, etc.) and although the demo was fun, I knew I’d never finish it with the other coming out, so I have delayed that purchase. Is it good?

    I interviewed with Microsoft for a Software Developer position in college and it was the worst interview of my life (my fault, not theirs). I think I left on the second question because I was so unprepared. They wanted me to code things on paper in C and I hadn’t touched the language in over a year based on my coursework, so I drew a blank.

  7. Thomas Says:

    TGH – I have been having a great time with Stranglehold, I actually did a review Kick Ass with Chow Yun Fat in Stranglehold. To be honest due to the fact that my time for game play is limited because of work and my life I don’t get that much time to play. If I encounter a level that is too hard or takes me too long, I will stop playing the game. I didn’t get past the 3rd level or so in Ninja Gaiden, I just got stuck.

    I haven’t played Mass Effect of Assassin’s Creed yet, are they good? You and teeni have already mentioned you are enjoying Orange Box.

    Our interviews are pretty difficult, if you are not used to them they will throw you for a loop. In the old day you would get wierd, why is a manhole cover round type questions. Not necessarily to trip you up, but to figure out your thinking style. Now we tend towards ‘situational questions’ such as give me an example of an issue you had to overcome, and how did you do it? These are hard if you aren’t prepared, but are a great way of assessing a candidate.

  8. teeni Says:

    Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed aren’t out yet, they were just two in a long line of Fall games I was looking forward to.

    I like the old weird questions myself. I want to know the person I’m hiring can solve problems and watching how they work through it can be good. From my developer’s point of view, although you want someone that knows a certain language, languages can be easily taught where problem solving abilities are more difficult to teach.

  9. TGH Says:

    Sorry, did it again, posting as teeni.

  10. Thomas Says:

    TGH as teeni and TGH – We still ask some difficult questions. If you are coming aboard as a programmer, you should definitely expect some coding example and algorithm oriented questions.

    Now we tend not to ask the puzzle type questions, we ask more situational questions and ask for examples as follow ups. You will have anywhere from 4 – 6 interviews in a day, and it is pretty grueling. You do get a pretty good idea of a candidate by the end of the day.

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