“One should pursue a career in a subject that interests them and that they are in love with. Success will follow,” says Muhammad Abdur Rauf – a talented 21-year-old student from Lahore who has recently landed an enviable job at the Microsoft Corporation… before completing his bachelor’s degree in computer science.
A computer science major at the Lahore University of Management Science’s (LUMS) School of Science and Engineering, Rauf was recently hired by Microsoft as a Software Development Engineer. Rauf’s new job will require him to use his skills testing computer programmes and software for technical faults, or ‘bugs’ as they are more commonly referred to.
It was, however, only after a rigorous hiring process that Rauf secured a place at Microsoft. He applied for the opening through the company’s website in December last year, and was interviewed over the phone by representatives in February. According to the LUMS website, he was then asked to travel to Dubai – all expenses paid – where he gave four technical interviews during which his previous projects were scrutinised and discussed in detail. He was also asked to solve algorithms and do programmed coding. In his last interview, he was given a coding problem which he was asked to debug. After an exceptional performance, Microsoft offered him a job. He soon accepted. He will be required to report to the company’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington on October 1, 2012.
Rauf says that one winning strategy that enabled him to succeed was his in-depth research about his employer, prior to his job application. He had been told that a team from Microsoft’s Dubai division will interview him. As preparation, he says that he studied a research paper of the very team that was to interview him. “I wanted to understand how they work and what their specific interests are,” he says.
In the past, Rauf has freelanced for some local and international companies. He also has experience in developing software applications for Android-powered devices.
Born in Bahawalnagar, Rauf has lived most of his life in Lahore. There, he attended The Trust School and completed his FSc from the Government College Lahore before he was admitted to LUMS.
Rauf does not come from an affluent family; his father is a civil servant. Keeping his limitations in mind, Rauf applied for LUMS’ National Outreach Program – a need and merit based scholarship. Deemed to be a deserving candidate, he was soon admitted in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at LUMS.
“However, after taking a few courses in humanities and social sciences, I realised that these were not my cup of tea,” he says. “I switched to the computer science major because I had prior interest in the subject”.
As evidenced, Rauf has done well in the subject of his choosing; he also works as a research associate in the computer sciences department. His research interest is in programming languages.
When asked if he ever thought about what he’ll do after landing a dream job, he says: “this is just the beginning! I want some experience working there, and then I want to think about higher studies in a specialised field.”
His advice to his compatriots? Students should not be afraid to fail; they should learn instead to face adversity and handle it to the best of their ability. After identifying one’s interest, Rauf says, one should stay focused and move in a direction that helps them achieve their goals.
“Success didn’t just knock on my door one fine day,” he says.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2012.