Forging a Future: A Job Offer, and It’s Microsoft

By:
Ford Burkhart,
Sonali George

As an intern, Sonali George proved her entrepreneurship potential at Microsoft. 

In turn, Microsoft decided she was a keeper. She started there in January.

George’s dream job, as a program manager, follows a stellar McGuire career. She teamed up to develop a social venture in the New Venture Development Program, and the business concept won the Microsoft Social Innovation Prize at the McGuire Innovation Expo last spring. 

Using analytical and problem-solving skills, plus lessons from courses in business strategy, economics, performance metrics, statistics and data analytics, she processed social, economic and environmental data for Microsoft’s Datacenters for Good program in six target communities. She visited sites, spoke to nonprofits and data center employees, and developed her own “theory of change” model, using metrics for social return on investments. 

George, who is from Chennai, in southern India, worked with the local chapter of Net Impact, a student club dedicated to social change.

“It wasn’t easy as a young international student to be elected as the president of Net Impact, organize community events in Tucson, follow my entrepreneurial dream of developing a nonprofit, travel to Ecuador for volunteering work, participate in multiple case competitions, finish two masters with a job offer in Microsoft,” she says. “I think the real story is how this journey helped me to discover myself.”

A key lesson, George says, was simplicity. “Don’t worry about finding the perfect solution. It will be OK. And remember, pivots and failures are part of the process.”

She adds: “And put your heart and soul into it.”

One faculty member who helps interns is McGuire Lecturer Rick Yngve. George, he says, typifies those who take on the Microsoft challenge.

“They’ve gotta hustle,” says Yngve. “It’s very ‘real world.’ You can’t wait. You have to move quickly and learn to talk to vendors and suppliers and validate an idea, to see if it has merit, if it meets a real need.”

Adaptability, says Yngve, is a must. And George had it. 

She began at McGuire expecting she would start her own small nonprofit to register social impact.

Now she’s got a job as a program manager at Microsoft, one of the largest tech companies, and she’s still working for a social-impact project. 

That’s adaptability.