Microsoft Academy for Collage Hires is Microsoft’s global graduate scheme designed to take the best University graduates from around the world and fast track them into the world of Microsoft’s sales, marketing and service organisations.

The EMEA graduates are a diverse group range from all over Europe from different universities, degrees and backgrounds, all with a common potential (how did I get in?) and passion for technology.

During the first week of March, the graduates from all over EMEA converged on the city of Istanbul, Turkey to take part in on of our first European training sessions, Winter School.

Winter School is a two week (only one if in Services as we get to go to Corp :) ) training program based around personal development and soft skills, not to mention the brilliant night life of drinking, belly dancers, drinking, boat trips, sightseeing and drinking (shhhh) along with the networking opportunities.

The first week provided a couple of days to first familiarise ourselves with Istanbul, getting to know everyone from around the continent and settled into a great (but expensive) hotel.

Winter School kicked off at the newly kitted out Microsoft Turkey office, with a number of  presentations from some really great VP’s from around the business. Sharing their experience and stories of being at a company like Microsoft and what we can expect over the coming months and years as we develop our carer's from graduates to the VP of tomorrow. One thing that is surprising as a graduate is how really istanbul41approachable these guys are being able to just chat with someone helps seal multi million dollar deals and get insight into how they built their positions to what they are. Along with this the amount of time and respect that these important people give new graduates into the company is truly amazing.

After the kick off event, we spent a day going through personality types and finding what our “true colours” are, as it turns out I appear to be a red (Task oriented, driven, leader etc.). Along, with how we can get each of the different colours, red, orange, blue and green to work best together.

This then really came to light in some group work we carried out in the latter part of the week, where we separated into a number of groups and were challenged to complete the Silver Bullet Runway, a challenging exercise where we needed to maximise profit from a given set of materials by running as many ball bearings through a tube in 30 seconds.

A number of presentations were given by the guys from Duke Education, whereby we discussed how to give the perfect presentation, group skills and got the chance to present on our individual stories of how we got to be working for one of the best companies, Microsoft. The best of these presenters then went forward to present in front of a group of around 200 graduates and professional presenters.

istanbul36 The final day of the first week culminated with us utilizing all of the skill we had learned during the week, from presenting to group skills and selling techniques as we all split into groups and put on a trade show.

During this week, I managed to make many new friends, that I will be meeting up with in a couple of months when we all converge on the Tech Ready later in the year.

This was a truly great week, and just one of the reasons for graduates to apply for a career at Microsoft.

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