I doubled my income at Microsoft after starting my career in a factory. I only had enough money for 1 semester of school, but I was determined.

1 month ago

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Nandita Gupta, an accessibility product manager at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. It has been edited for length and clarity.I’m an accessibility product manager at Microsoft. I have electrical engineering and human-computer interaction degrees, and my internship experiences were in manufacturing and robotics research. I decided to pursue human-centered computing with a focus on manufacturing as a career.I worked as a process controls engineer at a factory that made baby wipes for three years before quitting and returning to school in the fall of 2019.I started working as a product manager on internal tools at Microsoft in March 2021. Since December 2021, I’ve worked as an accessibility product manager for Accessibility Insights, a suite of products that helps developers code with accessibility in mind. I lead the product direction, plan future initiatives, and work with teams to create enjoyable and accessible experiences for developers.Landing my first job at Microsoft doubled my income, and I’m doing what I always wanted to do — make an impact.As a young girl, I saw my grandfather lose his eyesight, which left an indelible mark on my career choices. I yearned for a purpose beyond manufacturing and dreamed of helping people like my grandfather. There came a moment in my manufacturing job when I asked myself, “What am I doing? What happened to helping people like Grandpa?”I took a leap of faith and left my stable job to pursue my passion for accessibility. I invested my savings into a single semester of graduate school with plans to apply for scholarships and assistantships, a decision that was both terrifying and exhilarating.I was determined to apply for every scholarship to earn my degree. When my bank balance headed toward zero, I secured a graduate assistantship and received my first scholarship. In February 2020, I earned the Google Lime Scholarship, worth $10,000, which covered the rest of my graduate program.As they told me I had been awarded that scholarship over the phone, I cried tears of relief. I had been sinking into depression the previous few months and was consumed by financial worries. Receiving this scholarship was one of the most emotional moments of my life.My journey to Microsoft was not easy, but I wouldn’t change anything about it.When the pandemic hit, the summer internship I had lined up was canceled, and my job prospects seemed bleak. I tried to connect with companies and finally connected with a Microsoft recruiter at a virtual networking event. I shared my passion for accessibility and inclusion with the recruiter, and they said it was something they needed at the company.The meeting led to a quick screening with HR, followed by a four-round interview loop and, finally, a job offer. Taking the Microsoft job doubled my earnings from my last job — my annual income was around $75,000 in manufacturing, and the move to Microsoft brought my total compensation to over $170,000. My work schedule is flexible, and I typically work around 50 hours a week.Accessibility is not just personal — it’s a fundamental human right. My mission is to inspire others to design and deliver products that are accessible and inclusive, ensuring individuals like my grandfather feel seen and valued.One of the most impactful accessibility initiatives I’ve been involved in is my collaboration with Zoo Atlanta as a graduate researcher. Our team crafted an inclusive experience for Zoo Atlanta visitors, particularly emphasizing those with visual impairments.Another exciting project I worked on was Shifting Left to Get Accessibility Right at Microsoft. The case study showcases the importance of proactive accessibility and how the organization implemented a culture of accessibility.It’s important to embrace a life-long learning mindset. When trying to pivot my career, I used resources like TED Talks, the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, and MasterClass to gain insights from experts. I then gave my own TEDx Talk through the TEDx Georgia Tech organization.It’s better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. Every decision you make will teach you valuable lessons, and even if you don’t end up where you originally intended, there will be something to gain.Have you doubled your income by pivoting your career and want to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at lhaas@businessinsider.com.…Read more by Perri Ormont Blumberg


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