The IOL's Influence On My Career

We are always trying to stay connected to our alumni as they progress in their careers and lives, as well as provide our upcoming graduates with opportunities for industry placement. We recently caught up with Ben Schultz, class of 1997, who is currently a Principal PM Lead at Microsoft. Schultz hired Max Renke, class of 2016 and recent IOL project manager , as a Program Manager on the Windows kernel team back in early January 2017. We truly value the relationships between our alumni and future alumni, because these connections create pathways to forge future partnerships and continue to fill the pipeline of prospective engineers. Check out what they both had to say about their experiences at the lab and more!

Max’s Story

Interviewing for Microsoft was a daunting process that I don’t think would have been possible without the IOL. I started working at the IOL my sophomore year of undergrad and was fortunate enough to receive a GRA position at the lab, which allowed me to get my graduate degree. Pursuing my graduate degree really helped me understand what I had to do, reluctantly, which was to leave UNH and the IOL.

I was in the unique position to not only manage a small team in the Ethernet Switching Testing Service, but also work as the lead developer for an automated test tool product called IOL vIOLett 802.11 that I saw go from prototype, to beta, to customer release. Interacting with other testing services and countless external vendors were also incredibly important skills for me to learn. I also got to be involved with some really cool industry projects like the Open Compute Project.

I always knew the IOL was about putting in hard work and getting to know people. Luckily for me, Erica put me in touch with IOL Alum Ben Schultz, who had an open position on the Base Kernel team at Microsoft for a Program Manager. Not only did this allow me to use my “soft skills” that I honed at the IOL, it was also a deeply technical role that I couldn’t wait to jump into. I was able to draw on a multitude of past experiences during the interview process which definitely made things a lot easier.

Microsoft and IOL are both very different workplaces, each with their own challenges. I’m enjoying working with Ben because he is able to help me apply the experiences I had at the IOL to my work at Microsoft.

I would not be at Microsoft if it were not for the amazing support and the unique set of experiences I received during my time at the IOL. Thank you to all alumni and current members of the lab!

Ben’s Experience

Hiring the right person is a formidable challenge for any manager. Finding motivated and skilled talent is where this process starts. The IOL has a great program for developing college students: with technical skills, with problem solving skills and also helping them understand the business patterns that are expected by industry. Measured growth and technical depth are pillars of the IOL’s programs. The familiarity helps on-boarding and makes the new employee’s expectations more realistic. The understanding that growth is a process of accumulated compounding interest is incredibly valuable in this age of instant gratification.

The IOL prepared me for both my interview and my work in industry. Leaders and organizations value people who have the skills and knowledge to build both products and services. The IOL provided many of these key skills and experiences, along with the ability to articulate them. These includes a strong sense of mission, working with customers to understand their problems and requirements, setting goals, creating designs, writing software and managing design tradeoffs. The environment at the IOL enables one to quickly see the cause/effect relationship – for example hands-on debugging and troubleshooting can result in immediate customer satisfaction. At the IOL, one works with many different companies across many cultures. This helped me improve my agility to managing change and provided me with much needed intuition to drive business impact in many different scenarios and contexts.