Secrets and skills: Behind the scenes with Microsoft UK graduates

It’s no secret that the UK has a skills shortage – with IT companies particularly hard-hit; 68% of IT teams report that they face a shortage of necessary skills. As we look to create the next era of digital leaders across the country, companies are focused on how to bridge the gap between the skills we have today and the skills we need in the digital workplace of tomorrow.

Hiring the right talent is critical to success and businesses mustn’t forget about those who are early in their career. Apprentices, interns and graduates can bring a wealth of value to a business, offering fresh perspectives and creativity.

Our Microsoft Aspire Experience gives graduates a pathway into the working world to shape them into the digital leaders of tomorrow. And you can be part of that experience too.

Discover what it means to be a Microsoft UK graduate as we go behind the scenes with our Microsoft Aspire Experience grads to find out their highlights, the skills they’ve learnt along their journey, and advice on how you can excel as a graduate at Microsoft.



Chester Broad, Marketing and Communications Manager

Chester Broad, MAEHi! My name’s Chester – I’m 22 and from Brighton. After graduating from the University of Bath, studying Management with Marketing, I joined Microsoft’s Experiential Marketing team, delivering events and brand experiences. Even in the small amount of time I’ve been here, finding my feet, I’ve already got one highlight: at Future Decoded, I got the opportunity to host two live-streamed interviews, discussing creativity in AI with WPP and chatting to OceanMind about how they use AI to combat unsustainable fishing around the world.

Chester’s tips to success as a Microsoft graduate:

  • Make sure you really understand Microsoft’s culture and values and weave them into the work you do on a daily basis.
  • Look for opportunities to learn new things in the business – and be vocal about your eagerness to learn.
  • Always say yes to a good opportunity – even if it makes you nervous. Going outside of your comfort zone is key to development.



Freddie Saunders, Technical Specialist

Freddie Saunders, Technical SpecialistSince joining Microsoft last year, I’ve been continuously challenged to get out of my comfort zone. I began working as Surface Technical Specialist, joining a team of Surface sellers to increase our hardware and device footprint. I was even responsible for proving the technology, and guiding our customers with their technical decision-making.

This experience has led to learning new skills, as well as being valued for the opinions and ideas I have when tackling the role and serving my customers best. However, my biggest highlight has been visiting Seattle and Las Vegas for training. This included my first solo presentation and workshop with a customer, and talking at a partner event about how the industry could best make use of Surface.

Since then, I’ve been given the exciting opportunity to move into our new Power Platform team as a Technical Specialist.

Freddie’s top tip:

  • Be yourself. At Microsoft we value people based on who they are, their passions and their potential. You don’t need to have all the answers, you just need to have the hunger to always learn and never stop.



Holly Boothroyd, Software Engineer on Cortana for Windows

Holly Boothroyd, Software Engineer on Cortana for WindowsMy journey started back in Seattle, the home of Microsoft’s HQ, before I moved to England five years ago to study Computer and Information Technology. I previously worked on Microsoft Paint 3D and Xbox – in fact, my code is currently on over 900 million devices world-wide! In my role as a software engineer on Cortana for Windows, I develop features on the client side that enhance the user’s productivity and interactions with Windows.

Collaboration is a key skill here: I work closely with designers to make sure designs are feasible from an engineering perspective. For me, it’s all about creating the best user experience.

My top highlight at Microsoft has been attending the Grace Hopper Celebration conference in Orlando. For years, I’d dreamt of going, so it was a real wish come true to join other STEM-ettes at the event.

Holly’s 3-step guide to make the most of your experience: 

  1. Seek out new communities – don’t get locked into communities strictly focused on your ‘day job’; go beyond that to broaden your skills and network.
  2. Find a mentor – when you’re early in your career, it’s important to find someone with experience who can not only teach you new skills, but provide inspiration and drive.
  3. Lock into your USP – Find a gap in your team’s skillset and fill it. Identify a cross-section between the technologies you love and the skills your team needs. Make it your unique selling point, as it’ll push you to learn new things, make you an invaluable asset, and give you expertise, which leads to personal development and career growth.




Lucy Bloodworth, Enterprise Channel Manager – Health

Lucy Bloodworth, Enterprise Channel Manager - HealthI joined Microsoft last September. Now, I’m an Enterprise Channel Manager in the One Commercial Partner program. Prior to this, I studied Business and Management at the University of Reading, where I also completed a one-year internship at General Electric.

My first year at Microsoft has been an invaluable experience. You’re given real responsibility from day one, and encouraged to take on a ‘fail fast’ mentality. However, you’re fully supported at the same time and people are always happy to help. For me, just being at Microsoft is a highlight. I love working here because every day is different and you get a real sense of accomplishment.

Learnings from Lucy’s journey:

  • Always ask questions – there’s always support and resources available
  • Never stop learning
  • Be proactive and jump at any opportunity that comes your way


To find out more about what it’s like to receive training alongside Microsoft UK professionals and the amazing opportunities you can get involved in as a Microsoft graduate, visit the Microsoft Aspire Experience site and our Student and Graduates career page.