Imagine my excitement when I heard we were going to Microsoft San Francisco, the mastermind behind Windows and well Microsoft itself (amongst all their other great creations). I was ecstatic as I could not believe I was going to visit their base, The Silicon Valley Office.
The actual office we visited was just a 20 minute walk away from our hotel, because were keen to explore the streets of San Francisco, we decided to walk there. I suggested the idea to the team of which they were all eager at first until five minutes into the walk and they all wanted to kill me. The streets of San Francisco are the steepest streets I have EVER seen or walked on really. It was a good workout for the year.
We finally arrived at the building and it was HUGE! Being in a new environment is always nerve-wracking but very exciting. We were cleared by security and given name tags. (I don’t know about you but for me name tags just makes everything official!) and we made our way to the second floor where the office was located (Twitter is in the same building by the way which is super cool). We were welcomed with warmth and happiness by three incredible ladies. They were so excited to hear from us and to talk to us. They were enthusiastic that we had come all the way from South Africa just to see them. They also hired a photographer for us, so we definitely felt “famous” as we would be constantly asked to pose. Very exhilarating!
The first thing we got was a tour of the Microsoft Office which was very thrilling, then we were led straight to the coffee (and tea for all the tea lovers like me. Oh yeah, fun fact…most Microsoft workers drink green tea!! It’s a sign I need to work at Microsoft!). After we were all settled with our teas and coffees in our perfectly-sized Microsoft cups we received a presentation from the team telling us about the Microsoft experience, their company, their products etc.
The idea of hackathons was emphasized by the team which was relevant considering how we had just won one, and my highlight was when we were shown a video about Seeing AI, an application developed by Microsoft that came from an idea formulated at a Hackathon. The application, with the use of Artificial Intelligence, can describe the current surroundings to someone who is visually impaired. I thought this was such an incredible idea and the fact that it was formed at a hackathon inspired me to want to attend more hackathons in my lifetime.
We were also invited to a “Mixed Reality” party hosted by Microsoft where they were launching their Mixed Reality glasses. This was definitely the icing to the cake because for someone who is passionate about Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, getting introduced to Mixed Reality was the most exciting experience ever! Being transported into a whole new world was just plain fascinating.
I am forever grateful for such an experience. I’m thankful to GirlCode and Standard Bank for making this happen for me.
Thank you, Microsoft, for inspiring me to be a part of projects that matter. Projects that make a difference. Thank you for the merch as well (a.k.a swag). It was the best ending to the visit. I would have never imagined myself going to San Francisco to visit Microsoft Silicon Valley. This was so remarkable! Thank you GirlCode!! 😊
Fadzai Mupfunya, a Zimbabwean living in Malawi and currently studying in South Africa! She is a Computer Science and Business Computing Graduate at the University of Cape Town. She is currently working towards attaining an Honours degree in Information Systems also at UCT. From a young age she’s always been into ICT, computers and all that.