Microsoft’s Newest Employee in a Pandemic


Just wanted to give a brief life news update! I have just started a new job as a Software Engineer for Microsoft working on the Consumer Sales & Marketing Engineering (CSME) team. Here I will be working on really cool projects involving Machine Learning and Data Science to build classification and prediction models. While I would love to write about all the things I am doing in the ML space I am bound by my NDA with Microsoft to not discuss details so likely you will not see any specific MSFT implementation details. However, keep an eye out for a loosely related series I am looking to do on ML in games which should be coming soon!

Obligatory cheeseball photo with the Microsoft Sign at HQ in Redmond

Starting at Microsoft in a pandemic has been a challenging ordeal. Moving across the country is one thing, but when it is during an unprecedented viral outbreak it can be even more stressful. Thankfully I am settled in the Redmond area after a crucible of masks and hand-washing and had my first day last week. I interned with CSME last summer through the University program and have noticed a very stark contrast in the atmosphere I experience day-to-day on the job now that the COVID impact has really taken hold. Everything is remote, and it kind of feels remote. Yes, we have world class collaboration technologies and video chat software to keep us “connected” but there is major unrealized value of personal connections formed in your first weeks at any job. Connections like this are hard to form remotely and it takes an extra amount of effort to break social barriers, especially so with busy managers. Don’t be mistaken, the company is still working as a well-oiled machine and I have no doubt Microsoft will not only weather the pandemic but come out on top. The fact of the matter is that I miss my team. I miss the hallway interactions instead of an IM and being able to pop into someone’s office instead of writing a long winded email. We’re all feeling it; as creatures of habit most of us want our old way of life back. But we will persevere and evolve as a species into this new paradigm as we always have.

Realize the value of personal connections formed in your first weeks at any job

Thankfully, Microsoft has what they call a “Growth Mindset” which allows me to continue my other side projects unhindered. So don’t expect this to have any impact on Project Stardust or the VR Sickness research I have been leading. I will still be working for the Laboratory of Quantitative Experience Design at the University of Utah as a volunteer contributor on other projects. Hopefully we can get our research polished enough to submit a paper sometime soon on VR design to minimize motion sickness as well. The future is looking bright and I am excited for these next challenges!

Dylan Stout

Machine Learning Software Engineer at Microsoft & volunteer VR/AI researcher University of Utah

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