Left to right are students Daniel Gauldin, Tommy HO, IT staff member Eric Smith, Student Tiandria Hines, and IT Staff members Shannon Anders and Sara Smith.

What better way to spend the summer than scoping out where some of the most tech savvy and happiest employees on earth work? Sara Smith, the manager of the Technology Commons and Training, took that opportunity along with Tommy Ho, Tiandria Hines, and Daniel Gauldin, three WCU students that are TechMate members, and fellow DoIT employees, Shannon Anders and Eric Smith.

TechMate, is a WCU student organization started by Smith that is dedicated to learning more about all types of technology. On Friday, July 19th the group traveled to Charlotte, NC to tour the Microsoft Charlotte Campus. While on-site at Microsoft they were able to see staff training labs, interview rooms, staff work spaces, demo areas, dining spaces, lounges, break rooms, and a server room.

Tour guide, Ben Wittgen, gave an in-depth look and explanation of what it is like to be a Microsoft employee from the interview process to spontaneous business trips. His words were especially meaningful for the students, as Wittgen is a recent college-hire and has been employed at Microsoft for a little over a year. He was able to talk to the students about applying and interviewing at high profile workplaces. Wittgen noted that a large focus is put on the work/life balance at Microsoft. Stating that the employees have no benefit in working overtime as their counterparts in other countries take over when they go off the clock. That means that employees are encouraged to enjoy work and enjoy their time off. In promotion of this idea, wellness stipends are extended to all Microsoft employees so that they can purchase gym memberships, exercise equipment, apparel, and shoes. Also, employees have access to lounges for gaming or relaxing. Each floor of the two buildings boasts a walkthrough break room complete with free soda, juice, water, and of course Starbucks Coffee machines. Wittgen noted that for a couple weeks he over loaded on soda, but now mostly sticks to the water.

The TechMate student’s majors are Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Computer Engineering respectively. They all noted that they understand why someone would want to be a Microsoft employee, and one student said “Now I know where I want to work!” Smith was pleased that the students were able to get so much out of attending the tour and seeing a place they could actually end up working. It was clear to the group how much Microsoft employees really love their jobs. Several employees they met have been with Microsoft for 10 – 20 years. They all said it is a great place to work and be able to explore different interests and areas of support throughout time.


Students and staff explore an interactive surface at Microsoft.

For more information about WCU’s TechMate organization, contact Sara Smith at