Interning at Microsoft Quantum – 2021

Mariia Mykhailova

Mariia

Some of the most frequently asked questions we get are the ones about internships with our team. Indeed, an internship with a team that works on quantum computing is among the best ways to join the quantum computing revolution. Today I’m delighted to announce Microsoft Quantum internship positions for summer 2021, to share some fun facts about the internships of the summer past, and to highlight some of the things that are going to be new next summer. (You can find more stories of past internships in the last year’s blog.)

Internships in the COVID era

This summers’ internships turned out to be quite different from what we planned for when we sent out offers to our interns in February. We were looking forward to a perfectly regular summer, the interns flying in from all over the world to join us in Redmond… And then COVID happened, which, among everything else, meant that there would be no travel and no in-person interactions with the interns. Fortunately, Microsoft has been able to save most internships by switching them to virtual format. But that posed a new set of challenges: how to make a virtual experience as immersive, educational, and enjoyable as an in-person internship would have been?

The work on the projects looked very similar to a regular year, with the addition of a fair number of extra meetings. Admittedly, it is a lot easier to catch your mentor online in a scheduled one-on-one than in an impromptu meeting like one would normally do when sharing an office. The interns’ project presentations were not changed much compared to last year as well, with other interns and employees stopping by to listen in a Teams meeting instead of a meeting room.

Social and networking events proved to be more of a challenge. Some of them, like the OneWeek Hackathon and Intern Puzzle Day, switched to online format relatively easily – a lot of the experience in these events depends on one’s team, and both offered great ways to find a good team to hack or to solve puzzles with. The “Introduction to quantum computing” workshop hosted by our team for the interns made the transition nicely as well, attracting over 700 interns from across the company and ending up being one of the favorite intern events throughout the summer. The main downside of the newly online events format? No new cool photos to commemorate them!

Other events required  some ingenuity to orchestrate. How do you replace bumping into a fellow intern at the watercooler or joining an employee from a different part of the company for a chat at lunchtime? Our team organized multiple events to attempt to replicate or replace various parts of the experience – from “open office” times with team leaders and weekly brown bags where team members talked about their work to a Q# learners club to weekly online “board game nights” and an occasional virtual escape room. Some of these opportunities were only introduced this year, and we hope that helped to make the virtual experience both useful and memorable!

Looking forward to 2021

In the upcoming season we will be offering three different types of internships:

  • Research internships are the most traditional of our internships, targeting graduate students pursuing a PhD in quantum computing. (Read more about the past research internships in the last year’s announcement.)
  • In 2019 we introduced quantum programming internships, focusing on software projects in Quantum Development Kit or Azure Quantum. I hope to share more information about our interns’ projects later, as they are polished up and/or released to the public. Here is a sneak peek at the project two of our interns worked on – new %trace and %debug commands for Q# Jupyter Notebooks. (You can also read more about the previous quantum programming internships in last year’s announcement.)
  • In the new program management internship the intern will work with our Azure customers to design Azure Quantum to help them achieve their goals.

Regardless of the kind of projects our interns will work on, one thing I’m certain about – this will be an awesome experience for them!

Does this sound like a great way to spend your summer? Apply to our open internship positions today! Application deadline is January 8th, 2021.

Update (November 23rd): Per the announcement, our 2021 Intern Program will be fully virtual in 2021. As was the case last season, our program is able to support internships for students located in the US and Canada.

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