Infinite Careers is a collaboration between Career Services (CAPD) and the MIT Alumni Association to explore career paths and the non-linearity of career decision making. Read profiles of alumni with unique career paths, hear their stories and network at a series of talks.
- MIT, S.B. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 2009
- Boston College, J.D., 2012
Ellen Wong is a patent attorney at Microsoft Corporation, where she is part of the patent portfolio development team, supporting Azure IoT, Azure Storage, and Windows Silicon, Graphics, and Media Device Platforms. She has worked on a variety of intellectual property projects: counseling clients on intellectual property issues, working on projects for licensing, partnering with engineers to identify and patent cutting edge technology, and evaluating patent applications during the lifetime of the patent.
Prior to her experiences at Microsoft, Ellen was an Intellectual Property litigator at Foley & Lardner LLP in Boston and served on several trial teams. Ellen obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.
What influenced your decision to major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT?
My interest in EECS started from a young age. My father is a computer engineer and used to take me to work for take-your-daughter-to-work day every year. I loved tinkering and taking apart whatever I could get my hands on and really enjoyed learning new things in the technology space. That curiosity and interest continued when I arrived at MIT.
Why did you decide to pursue a law degree?
I found out that I wasn’t someone who wanted to code continuously all day long. IP law was a cross between wanting to stay in the tech space but also getting to learn new skills in a different industry.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career?
I really enjoy using the skills and experiences I’ve acquired to assist others in pro bono cases and mentor others who are trying to navigate their careers.
What motivates you to do the work that you do?
My current job as a patent attorney at Microsoft has been very exciting for me. I’ve gotten to rejoin the tech industry and interact with engineers and designers to discuss cutting edge technology. I love that each day is different and that there’s always something new and challenging to figure out. I like that there’s a broader motivation to help the world using technology and being able to be a part of that movement is thrilling.
What strategies did you use to make your career decisions?
Going to law school was a leap of faith. Joining a firm in the IP Litigation department was a leap of faith. And leaving my firm job to move across the country to work at Microsoft was a leap of faith. I think it’s important to recognize opportunities that you might be interested in and have the attitude that each decision will be a learning experience no matter what happens.
What professional development activities did you participate in?
I’ve just recently started attending conferences, which give me opportunities to meet other legal counsel and to learn about the current and future landscapes of law and technology. I also participate in internal efforts at Microsoft such as pro bono activities (e.g. landscaping temporary homes for the homeless, assisting DACA candidates) and mentoring opportunities.
Any tips for MIT students who are currently job-searching?
When you’re interviewing with a company, remember that it’s a two-way street– you never want to be at a place where you can’t be yourself and can’t stand by your work.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m someone who always needs to be doing something, even in my down time. I enjoy cooking and baking, playing volleyball, trying out new classes (e.g. aerial yoga), running runDisney races, finding random arts and crafts to do, doing jigsaw puzzles, and playing with my dog. I also really enjoy researching food places and stuffing myself full of delicious food!
Last updated 2019