Software Engineering Intern, Kavya Ravikanti, Talks Interning Microsoft and Leading the Trips Team at HackCville

"Kavya is a 3rd year at UVA studying Computer Science and taking random classes in sustainability, business and data science because she couldn't decide on a double major or minor. Outside of school is a Director at HackCville running startup trips and a Resident Advisor to some wonderful first years. This past summer she was an Explore Intern at Microsoft working as Program Manager for a third of the summer and then as a Software Engineer for the rest of the summer. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, food documentaries, podcasts, all things Marvel, and random weekend adventures. She is a big believer in paying it forward so she is excited to answer any and all questions because mentorship has helped her immensely along the way!"
an image of kavya the intern from microsoft
Meet Kavya Ravikanti
What made you interested in Tech?

"Funny story, so I took a computer science class freshman year of high school and absolutely HATED it. I vowed I'd never do anything tech related again. Come first year of UVA, I took CS 1110 with Professor Sherriff and LOVED IT. I took the class again to give computer science another shot because I realized I went into the class my freshman year of high school with the attitude that I would hate it, never really giving the subject a fair shot. I also found myself being fascinated by women in tech. I read this piece on this women named Dona Sarkar in a magazine and was blown away by the fact that she worked in tech, was a fashion designer and an author. Reading more about the tech industry and the awesome innovation that was happening in it, I realized that technology was one of the key ways we were driving change as a society. Tech can be applied to literally any topic you are interested in. There's fintech, edtech and so many more examples of this. I knew that I wanted to make a difference but didn't know how, but I knew that CS/tech would give me a toolkit to make it happen!"

I was wondering what the application/interview process was like for Software Engineering at Microsoft and what you think helped you stand out in that process?

"The application process was really simple where I just dropped my resume with the recruiter at UVA's career fair. I think what helped me stand out was having a good pitch and going to all of the Microsoft events when they were at UVA. This helped the recruiter remember who I was and stand out amongst all the people she met at UVA. As for the interview process I had a phone interview and then an on-site interview at Microsoft."

Do you have any tips on how to do an elevator pitch or how to best present yourself to recruiters at a career fair? Is there anything specific you highlight about yourself to recruiters?

"Definitely practice! I practiced in front of a mirror and wrote down bullet points of what I wanted to make sure to say to the recruiter. It always helps to know what position you are interested in before talking to a recruiter. So when approaching the conversation, I went with a pitch that was tailored to the Explore Internship at Microsoft. I talked about previous experiences which tied into the role."

I was wondering how you liked interning at Microsoft last summer and where you're hoping to intern this upcoming summer and if you'll still be doing software engineering?

"Overall, I really enjoyed my experience — I was given a really cool project which was super impactful, I was part of a really supportive team, and there were a lot of intern events to help us grow and chances to meet with higher leadership. I am still recruiting for next summer and figuring out what I will be doing, but I have decided to go down the Product Management route for future opportunities."

I was wondering if being a program manager at Microsoft is basically like being a product manager?

"Yes, pretty much! PM can stand for everything from program management to project management to product management. At Microsoft the program management role is very similar to product management at other big companies. I would also say that the role can vary from team to team. Some teams focus more on the user experience part of the PM role and others focus more on the technical architecture. For me reading "Cracking the Product Interview" gave me more insight into the role. Talking to people and joining product related communities is also really helpful! HH Product Management and Mind the Product Slack communities are good resources for product management."

What was your day to day like as a PM intern at Microsoft?

"My day to day as a PM intern (this was the first 5 weeks of my internship) is hard to answer since every day is pretty different. In the beginning I spent a lot of time doing market analysis and research of other players working on similar technology like the one my team was trying to build. Then, I moved into customer discovery where I joined the rest of the PM team in meeting with potential clients and learning about what they were looking for, then the next phase was about putting together some initial designs. This part definitely took the longest as I spent a lot of time iterating on designs and getting a lot of feedback."

I was wondering what your career goals are and how interning at Microsoft helped you figure them out?

"In terms of career goals, I am hoping to do a product management internship and long-term either work as a product manager at small startup/growth-stage company or start my own company! Interning at Microsoft definitely showed me how things are done in big companies. It exposed me to a lot of incredible people which I am now fortunate to be able to reach out to for mentorship and advice."

Can you talk a little bit about the startup trips you run at UVA?

"I run startup trips through HackCville which is an entrepreneurship talent accelerator at UVA. During these trips we visit startups and companies of all sizes, meet with founders and interact with alumni working in different cities. To put these trips on, I have an incredible team of 23 who help me out! We do everything from company outreach to contacting alumni to finding lodging and transportation and everything else in between! Check out to learn more!"

What is your favorite thing about being trips lead at HackCville and what is the most challenging thing about it?

"My favorite thing about leading trips at HackCville is all the insanely cool startups and companies we get to visit. I love learning about how they got started and connecting with founders and hearing their stories. I also really love the impact of trips on the people attending them. Many students walk away with a complete perspective change on what to do post-grad and open themselves to different opportunities. The hardest part is definitely balancing everything that needs to get done and delegating to everyone while keeping everyone motivated. Trips is a lot of hard work upfront that you don't really get to see come to life until the trip itself."

I know you said you may be interested in starting your own thing after college or working at a startup, how has managing so many people on the trips team helped inform this decision?

"Managing a lot of people on trips definitely showed me the rewarding side and difficult sides of potentially running my own thing after college. I found that overall I still loved the idea of running my own thing despite the challenges because the rewards of it definitely outweighed the challenges. It's really cool to have a lot of ownership over something and see it come to life. I also learnt a lot from all the challenges of running trips so far in terms of best strategies with dealing with these challenges and what to do/what not to do."

You also said you had an awesome/supportive team at Microsoft. Do you think Microsoft does anything around team building really well/have you used anything you've learned about team building from Microsoft on your trips team?

"We did a lot of team lunches at Microsoft and there would morale events all the time to celebrate successes and to boost morale! The company was very transparent regarding what they were aiming to do and where the company was headed. Upper management would send out updates and give shoutouts to those in the division who had successes. I definitely took away the importance of keeping up morale and everyone engaged and making them feel like they matter and have ownership of what they are doing."

Could you give any advice on how to learn more about entrepreneurship at UVA? Is there any class recommendation or other opportunities?

"I would definitely recommend checking out HackCville's Hustle class for learning the foundations of entrepreneurship. We also have an entrepreneurship minor that has some awesome classes. There's a class in the Comm School that's all about venture capital and entrepreneurial fundraising as well. Contrary Capital is an organization at UVA that funds startups which is a cool way to get involved with entrepreneurship as well!"

I was wondering what your favorite classes outside your CS major have been at UVA?

"Some of my favorite classes outside of my major have been (no particular order):
1) University Seminar on the Nature of College with Mark White
2) English class on South Asian Diaspora with Sandhya Shukla
3) Design Like You Mean It with Dana Elzey — highly recommend this one!!
4) Data Visualization with Eric Field
5) Women's Work in South Asia with Sreerekha Sathiamma
6) Managing Sustainable Development with Brad Brown"
NOVEMBER, 19 / 2018