Four years ago, Kelly Freed '14 was preparing to enter the university from which her own sister (Kate Freed Matos '08) had graduated two years earlier. She dove into classwork and training for the Stevens cross-country and track teams, where she would eventually compete for four full years.
Now all her hard work has paid off: the Rutherford, N.J. native will soon begin helping software titan Microsoft optimize services and features for an estimated 200 to 300 million Bing search engine users worldwide.
Pursuing a four-year master's degree in Computer Science at Stevens, Freed's plans changed during a 2012 visit — along with three fellow students and representatives of Stevens faculty and the Office of Career Development (OCD) — to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world's largest annual conference for female technologists, in Baltimore. During the career fair portion of the event, she met with approximately 25 computing firms.
Just as importantly, however, Freed connected with representatives for Microsoft and applied for entry to the company's prestigious internship program. One phone interview and one on-site interview in Washington later, she was accepted to the program. She would go on to spend the summer of 2013 out West, managing and testing new features and initiatives for Microsoft's internet search engine Bing.
"To be walking around the halls of Microsoft, as a computing person, was unbelievable," she recalls. "And I was handed responsibility for managing actual features that were being tested by Bing users worldwide."
When the internship concluded, she received even bigger news: Microsoft offered her a permanent position with the company. She accepted immediately, and will begin in summer 2014 as a program manager on her previous team, bringing projects from ideation to delivery on the Bing platform while she completes her master's in computer science from Stevens remotely.
Her goal: to help Bing continue its march on search leader Google. Bing's slice of the U.S. search pie has grown from approximately 15 percent to nearly 18 percent since 2012, and Bing provides approximately 30% of all U.S. search results once the 2009 agreement by which Bing powers Yahoo's search engine is factored in.
"My role will be to meet with all the different groups — from developers to the design group to back-end developers and the user-interface group — during the various steps of the process of bringing a feature from idea to launch," she explains. "My job is to bring them all together to make it happen, and to test and analyze features we create. I am fortunate in that Microsoft and Bing have wonderful teams full of great ideas; those ideas are all heard, and the promising ones are acted upon very quickly."
Freed says her Stevens education, and the assistance of the university's career development office, were invaluable in the job-search process.
"Not only did they assist with interview skills and resumes, but they were there at the Grace Hopper career event with us, supporting us and advising us throughout," she says. "We were obviously extremely nervous, and their support meant everything."