Microsoft fails to place many UA graduates

By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 29, 1996

Microsoft Corp. recruiters are not exactly knocking down the UA's doors to fill positions with college graduates at the Tucson site the company opened in January.

Even though the company is making most of its hiring decisions out of the Redmond, Wash., headquarters, the company has placed a few graduates of the University of Arizona, said Bill Ruggirello, an employee relations program coordinator with the UA's Career Services.

Ruggirello said the Tucson site, located in building 60 at the IBM complex, South Rita Road and Interstate 10, is still in a state of flux and that he is waiting for the company to get settled in before trying to establish internship or cooperative employment programs with the city's newest technological tenant.

"We're still in a period of trying to identify what their needs are," he said.

The company negotiated a deal in September with the UA, the state, Pima County and the City of Tucson to lease 115,632 square feet of space. The deal also set aside 240,000 square feet of space for future expansion.

The space set aside is expected to cost the Arizona Board of Regents $4 million for lost rent money per year until the company expands into the space, but the Legislature promised $2 million in assistance with another $1 million each from the city and county to make up for that shortfall.

Microsoft, employing about 20,000 workers nationwide, has recruited actively at the UA, said Tracy Foltz, the company's recruiting coordinator in Redmond.

"As positions open up we are more than happy to accept applications from UA graduates," she said.

The company's newest technical support services site is the fourth such center established by the software company. Other sites include Bellevue, Wash., Las Colinas, Tex., and Charlotte, N.C.

Microsoft has about 100 employees at its Tucson location, handling mostly customer service and technical support calls, said site manager Tim Ryan.

The company is developing two new products that came on line in the last six weeks: Front Page, a World Wide Web authoring tool, and dbWeb, an Internet applications product.

Most of the customers the site services publish over the Internet, Ryan said.

Ruggirello said he is not sure what goals Microsoft would like to accomplish with its new Tucson site but said the UA has students who would make qualified employees.

He said he would like to see the relationship between Microsoft and the UA enhanced to increase the number of grads the company hires.

Microsoft recruiters were on campus March 1 to interview candidates for four technological and design internship positions at the Bellevue plant, he said, but were not hiring for the Tucson site.

The company is one of more than a hundred that recruits from the UA each semester, Ruggirello said. They attend career fairs held in October and send recruiters to campus in the spring to interview graduating seniors.

Ryan said he is now trying to learn more about the types of employees Tucson has to offer his company.

He said he is talking with local companies, the UA and high schools to strengthen the employment pool from which Microsoft will draw when the company's site grows.

The company is expecting to expand its Tucson site to 200 employees by the calendar year's end, Ryan said. He also said 1,000 to 1,200 employees will be working there within the next three to five years.

Ryan said he is placing a heavy emphasis on Internet education in Tucson high schools and the UA because the site deals so much with that new field.

Students expecting to land a job at the new site should also have some customer service experience, Ryan said.