‘TO ME GROWING UP, MICROSOFT WAS THE SYMBOL FOR TECHNOLOGY’
The final round of interviews took place on a Friday, and the following Tuesday, she heard back. It was just four days, Boadi-Agyemang says, but the wait was nerve-wracking and felt like forever. And when she received the call from the recruiter, she says she was so overjoyed that she began crying.
“When I received the internship offer, I was overwhelmed with joy because my hard work finally paid off – I could look back and say ‘I am glad I never gave up,’” Boadi-Agyemang says. “I was so overwhelmed that I literally cried tears of joy even later as I spoke to my sister in the U.K. on Facetime on my laptop. She had my parents, who live in Botswana, on Facetime as well. They were all so very happy.”
When asked why she chose to intern with Microsoft out of all the companies who reached out to her, she says that it was because she grew up learning to type on Microsoft Word, and player Reader Rabbit, a game which taught her Math, on a Windows computer.
“To me growing up, Microsoft was the symbol for technology. I chose to work there because they empowered me and now I will have the opportunity to empower others just like me,” Boadi-Agyemang says. “I have come full circle and with this blessing it is time for me to pay it forward. I never knew I would have this opportunity.”
THE 12-WEEK INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE
Boadi-Agyemang says that she spent 12 “phenomenal” weeks working as an intern at Microsoft as a Sales Operations Program Manager Intern. While there, her work involved conducting research on how to help the U.S. Business Sales and Operations team move forward and improve. She was also involved in a project where she helped to build a sales chatbot to help improve the seller and customer experience. To do this, she worked alongside business program managers.
“When they first presented the project to me, I was shocked,” she says. “But afterward, I was glad I accepted the project. As human beings, we fear the unknown and it’s easy to not want to do them. But once we have tried, we realize that the best things in life are on the other side of those fears. I have learned so much from that internship.”
In a lucky coincidence, Boadi-Agyemang says one of her best friends from Botswana who grew up with her also interned at Microsoft during the same period, providing a sense of familiarity amid the new environment and projects.
MEETING MICROSOFT’S CEO AND MELINDA GATES
While diversity in tech and business has come increasingly under scrutiny, she says that the internship was great also because she met many inspiring women whom she could look to as role models. From Microsoft Corporate V.P. Gavriella Schuster to her manager and colleagues, Boadi-Agyemang says being surrounded by so many women doing amazing work made her feel like she, too, could become president of a corporation.
“I saw that I could achieve any goal I set for myself and I, too, could be boss girl,” she says. “It was liberating to see so many successful women around me and so many women around me working hard and being rewarded.”
Boadi-Agyemang says that while at Microsoft, many people reached out to meet her, having heard about her from the viral LinkedIn post. According to Boadi-Agyemang, Microsoft’s lead communications manager reached out before her internship even started asking to get coffee, hoping to get to know her and find out more about her life.
When she mentioned that she dreamed of meeting Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, one day, she had no idea that the manager would help make that possible. The manager later told her that she had mentioned her desire to meet him and he wanted to meet her as well. And during one of the company’s busiest weeks where the largest hackathon in the world was being held, the two met.
“We connected over the fact that I grew up in Botswana and learned to type on Microsoft Word, and he grew up in India. Microsoft made a huge impact in both our lives,” she says. “It didn’t feel like I was talking to the head of a multibillion-dollar corporation, but more like a friend who was both humble and authentic. It’s not something I dreamed I could have this early on in my career.”
While most of us have only read about Nadella in the pages of business magazines and newspapers, Boadi-Agyemang got to high-five him and make a Boomerang video with Melinda Gates, who was also interested in meeting her.
CONNECTING WITH OTHER INTERNS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Like any internship at a highly successful and competitive company, there were also many intense moments. While working on the chatbot, Boadi-Agyemang realized halfway through the project that the AI chatbot would take a while to complete. She had not anticipated how much time it would need since she had never done a project like it before, and was disappointed with the possibility that she would not be able to say they could use it when her internship was over.
To solve this, she brainstormed and created a tool that was similar to a matrix without an infusion of AI that when used, would help a person figure out if they were a sales manager, business manager, or seller.
“When I presented my work at the end of my internship, one person came up and told me: ‘Akosua, this is gold, this would help sellers so much in the field,’” she says. “Hearing those words as an intern was so precious.”
Being at Microsoft also allowed Boadi-Agyemang to meet people from all over the world as there were hundreds of interns at the Lincoln Square headquarters alone. From meeting at Lunch-and-Learn events to intern puzzle days and concert days, she says there were plenty of opportunities for her to meet her peers and build a relationship with them.
But above it all, Boadi-Agyemang says the thing she loved most about Microsoft was that she got to be her authentic self.
“When you interview with companies, you think you have to put on a facade to fit in. I like to talk and I like to meet people and I always felt I wasn’t allowed to do that elsewhere,” she says. “It was liberating to be able to be myself at work. Microsoft is more focused on cultural adds than cultural fits.”
A MESSAGE FOR OTHER INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN THE U.S.
Boadi-Agyemang is currently part of the LinkedIn 2018-2019 Campus Editor Cohort and works with LinkedIn News Editors and other Campus Editors to create content. She says that her successes feel like her hard work has paid off.
“I want to tell other international students that if you don’t see instant results, continue persevering. Remove your attachments, be hardworking, and go into industries and areas to find out what you like,” she says. “Don’t fall into the trap of being like other people. Find something that works just for you.”
When she returns to Microsoft after graduating from Miami this summer, she will become a program manager on the business side. But before then, she says she is thinking of visiting home. Her parents will also be traveling to the U.S. from Botswana for her graduation and she looks forward to enjoying time with them before starting the search for a place to settle into in Seattle.
“My parents run an exclusive women’s salon and my dad is a property evaluator and surveyor. They have shown me what it means to never give up and they’re always telling me to be bold,” Boadi-Agyemang says. “They have always told me that the time to do your best is all the time, and they were right.”