I’m thrilled to introduce you all to Emily (and her yellow raincoat) as a way of brightening up your quarantimes. I met Emily when she interned on the HoloLens Experiences team, working on the same application as me. She started the summer with no Unity/3D experience, and watching her throw herself into tutorials and build out a complicated and finicky feature for our app (working on advanced resize tooling) was the first glimpse I got into how hard she’ll work to learn and succeed no matter the circumstances. She’s since switched over to one of the most technically intense and demanding projects I know of, and still manages to find time for embroidery, baking, and raincoat photoshoots. We took these photos back in September when I was visiting Seattle for my birthday - enjoy!
Tell us a little about you.
Hello! My name is Emily Dorsey, and I’m a Software Engineer at Microsoft working on HoloLens applications! When I’m not at work I am usually baking or attempting something crafty.
What do you love about this outfit?
I LOVE my yellow raincoat (the lining is plaid!!). When I first moved to Seattle I thought that everyone’s plain black North Face/Columbia/Arcteryx rain jackets were SO boring and decided to get a nice bright one. Yellow has since become one of my favorite colors.
Is your professional style different from your personal style?
Not really - I am free to wear whatever I want to work, and so I usually wear what I would likely be wearing anyways.
What are you wearing in the quarantimes?
I am currently wearing my new “work from home” uniform, which is leggings and a sweater. This is essentially identical to what I would wear to work under normal circumstances, but with leggings instead of jeans.
What are you working on at the moment, and what do you love about it?
I am currently working on the IVAS project, which is a HoloLens prototyping contract with the US Army. It’s my first time working on a government contract, and I really value the impact that this project has for mixed reality, the government, and tech as a whole. My team works hard to iterate quickly, and I love getting to see how our effort is resulting in a product that is rapidly improving every day.
I also really appreciate that my job lets me work closely with artists and designers - I love getting to watch them work and see the amazing things that they create.
How did you land where you are now? Did you have a plan?
Ha! I did not have a plan. I interned at Microsoft as a sophomore in Office telemetry, and was not very inspired. So I reached out to a woman I met through a mentorship program, and asked her to introduce me to people all over the company. I then met up with a woman working on the HoloLens, who introduced me to a hiring manager, who eventually offered me an internship position for the following summer.
That internship became a full time job, and then from there I have bounced between different HoloLens application teams. It really showed me the value of making and maintaining relationships with people as your career progresses.
What has surprised you about working in this industry?
I’m always surprised at how fast things move. With Mixed Reality in particular, it has been really cool to get to be a part of something that is so new and evolving so quickly.
Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?
It surprises me how often people (even other software engineers) think that software engineering is a primarily solo endeavor. In my experience, almost nothing is done by a single person; it’s all a team effort. We all build on top of someone else’s work, and then our work gets incorporated into someone else’s, and so on - it’s much more collaborative than I think a lot of people realize.
If you left computing what would you end up doing?
I double majored in French in college, and have always dreamed of going to pastry school in France. So if I left computing, that would be something I’d consider, just for the experience if nothing else. I’ve also been vaguely considering law or business school for a couple years now, so if I left tech I suspect that I would end up there with the intention of returning to tech in a different role.
You work in a very demanding and fast-paced job, how do you balance that with the rest of your life?
I’m fortunate in that the pace of my work ebbs and flows. So for me the key has been to recognize when things are ebbing, and make sure to really focus on living my life then so that I have the energy (and willingness) to focus on work full time when things start ramping up. My team has required a decent amount of travel (for a couple weeks at a time), which is tough. Staying connected with friends and family and taking time off afterwards have been key for me.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Right now? Standup at 10:00.
I’ll leave you with a bonus raincoat image, from an earlier photo session after realizing we’d bought the same raincoat. ☂️