Fifth-year computer engineering science student Carmen Tang knows a thing or two about serendipity. In first year, she volunteered at OpFair, a student-led job fair in SFU’s Applied Sciences Building that attracts some of the biggest names in the high-tech industry.
As a new student, Carmen didn’t have big expectations: she just wanted to get involved in university life. “They brought back some alumni, so I went over to talk to one of the reps. He asked me for my resume and actually interviewed me on the spot,” she recalls.
Next thing, Carmen was boarding a Seattle-bound plane for an all-expenses-paid Experience Microsoft trip at the software giant’s campus in Redmond, WA.
“I was there for three days during my exam period in spring, so I had to do my studying in the hotel,” she says with a laugh. The following winter, she made it through the interview process as one of only 100 students accepted to the Explore Microsoft program.
Carmen was the first SFU Microsoft Explore intern and, as it turns out, the encounter at OpFair eventually led to her dream job: a Microsoft software developer position awaits her after graduation.
As the saying goes, good luck is hard work. Carmen's stellar outcome stems from the potent mix of dedication, engagement, passion, and adventurousness that characterized her five years at SFU.
A recipient of the Gordon M. Shrum major entrance scholarship, Carmen completed a VP USRA research internship, in addition to three Microsoft internships. She was an executive for the Women in Computing Science (WICS) and Women in Engineering Science (WEG) student groups and the Try/CATCH conference for high school girls. She also mentored students through the TechConnect program, which helps first-years in computing science and engineering science transition from high school to university.
As the first Microsoft Intern Ambassador at SFU, Carmen increased awareness of Microsoft’s intern programs by organizing campus events, informational sessions and guest talks. Recently, she also initiated and organized hackathons, including the SFU International Women’s Hackathon with WICS and WEG.
Carmen is passionate about seeing other SFU students benefit from the Microsoft Explore program. The 12-week summer internship gives promising undergraduate students the opportunity to explore different roles in software development and gain exposure to various tools and programming languages.
“You work in groups of three, grow together and try out different positions like program manager, developer, tester,” she says.
In each internship, Carmen got a taste for working in various departments, including Microsoft Business Solutions and Windows Phone development.
It’s no surprise that she’s is excited about her upcoming career with Microsoft. The cherry on top? Her future supervisor told her to take time off and travel before her start date. But it’s bittersweet, she says, as her onward journey means saying goodbye to SFU.
“My experience at SFU has been really fun; I’ve met really awesome people and I’m really enjoying working with my capstone group right now,” she says.
“All the staying in the labs late at night, studying for tests, helping students, volunteering, meeting lots of remarkable professors – it’s all been worth it because these experiences have made my life so much more colourful.”