A graduate’s journey to Microsoft


Karl has been interested about technology from very young age. After primary school Päivölä, a private mathematics and programming focused high school sponsored by Nokia, seemed like a natural choice. Päivölä is a bit different than other Finnish high schools. It is a boarding school, where students study 12 hours a day and start their internship with Nokia research and development labs from first year on at the age of 15. Studies are heavily focused on advanced mathematics and software development. Actually you study the advanced high school mathematics (10 courses) in the summer prior you start in Päivölä. Each day you study just four subjects and students do also their homework in the class. During school year students get every other weekend off and in summer you stay home for one week and then you go back to school for one week. The school method does not suit everybody, but for Karl it was his “thing” from day one. His motivation was to learn software development and get to do it for real projects in the big international software company.

angry birds

After graduation from Päivölä, Karl continued working in Nokia, while starting his studies in Computer Science at University of Tampere. After the first year of his studies, he came across with the Microsoft Student Partner program. Karl applied, got accepted and started his journey with Microsoft. The MSP’s role is to teach students about Microsoft technologies and build Microsoft awareness in their community. The biggest advantage for being a Microsoft Student Partner is limitless networking opportunities in the Microsoft community and building your own personal brand, “getting your name out”, as software professional and MS enthusiast among this community. Besides studying, Karl was actively writing scientific publications and was even granted a patent.

In late 2011, as part of the MSP program, Karl participated in a Windows Phone roadshow “Geeks on Wheels”. The tour featured an RV which travelled across Finland to meet the students sharing the just-launched Windows Phone and Lumia story. Karl got recruited to Symbio, a Microsoft Gold Partner software company. There he worked where his wide expertise was most valuable – in presales, projects and marketing.


While working at Symbio, Karl co-founded a company, Magnificent Eight, to build Windows 8 apps. The timing was critical: this was just around the time of Windows 8 launch. The startup was so successful that it was promoted by Microsoft at the DigiExpo tech fair for thousands of visitors. It was also featured on Microsoft Europe’s front page and competed on the Microsoft Wowzapp hackathon.

Magnificent Sudoku

Magnificent Sudoku, a Windows 8 app built by Karl’s startup, promoted on a BIG screen at DigiExpo

Half a year later, Karl got recruited by AppCampus, a joint program by Aalto University, Nokia and Microsoft. AppCampus is the biggest mobile accelerator in the world, tasked to fund companies in Windows Phone application development. With that position, the interest of local Microsoft subsidiary rose, and eventually Karl got recruited to Microsoft as an Account Technology Strategist as part of Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) program.

As an Account Technology Strategist, Karl is leveraging his diverse background in the software industry. He gets to apply his passion for mobile and cloud technology by providing technology guidance to customers, and orchestrating the interaction between customers and Microsoft resources. In his role, Karl thrives to be recognized by customers as trusted technology advisor for broad and complex issues, while providing technology leadership to IT decision makers.

You can follow Karl at twitter: https://twitter.com/fincooper

If you are interested to follow Karl’s journey and join Microsoft’s graduate scheme then contact Charna Westerhold chporter@microsoft.com to hear more about our opportunities.

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