When Niket Mehta was studying for his Masters in Electrical Engineering at USC, his goal was simply to get a job that allowed him to focus on writing code. Now, as a Design Verification Engineer on the Xbox team at Microsoft Silicon Valley (MSV), Niket says, “My career has far exceeded any expectations.”
“Not only is my job fun, but there is a great sense of community and we have a lot of passion about what we do – not to mention the fact that we get pre-release Xbox games,” Niket proclaims. However, he says, “I realize that not everyone in our community has it so good. Here at MSV, we are very focused on doing good work, but also on volunteering and giving back.”
Niket grew up in Mumbai and still carries with him the fact that many people have no opportunity to go to school or study for a better life. He explains, “When I started my job, MSV told me about how many local kids in the Bay Area are having trouble getting into college or even dropping out of school altogether. These kids dream about doing something with their lives but many are held back by their inability to do basic math.”
In order to address this issue, Niket has done one-on-one tutoring through We Teach Science for the last two years. He says, “Many of these kids just need a person to help them out. And, it is not just about math: it’s about giving them confidence in themselves and being the special ‘go-to’ person for a child in our community.”
Many employees at MSV, like Niket, are involved in one-on-one volunteering. Others participate in business team volunteer opportunities where people on the same teams volunteer together during the workweek with organizations like The Boys and Girls Club or Habitat for Humanity. MSV also offers campus-wide volunteer events. These efforts – which typically revolve around a fundraising walk, run, or pledge drive – are open to all employees. In a few cases, MSV also engages area non-profit boards and chambers of commerce for employee placements.
“Through volunteerism opportunities both on and off campus, we instill a culture of giving and engagement,” says Daniel Costello, Volunteer Coordinator on the Citizenship team. Niket agrees. “MSV introduced me to the We Teach Science program and the company gives seminars and campus fairs about volunteering,” he says. “They are very supportive.”
Niket believes that volunteering also teaches you about yourself and makes you a better employee. He explains, “Some students have real problems focusing and I spend 40 minutes out of the hour-long session just trying to get them to pay attention. It can be very frustrating, but I also realize that kids with those challenges need help the most. It has forced me to learn to approach situations with patience.”
He laughs, “It also helps that a lot of teenagers dream about working at Xbox. That way, I can show them a tangible reason to learn do be a good math student.”