Microsoft Students 2 Business is a Microsoft community that helps students connect with Microsoft partners and professionals to gain experience, mentoring and jobs.  This month, Microsoft Students 2 Business sent Janis Lee at UIUC to attend the MIX Conference in Las Vegas, NV.  MIX is Microsoft’s annual conference on web design and development.  Join Students 2 Business for great opportunities like this from Microsoft.  Janis came upon this opportunity in close collaboration with a professional society called HKN

“Not only were we able to meet executives of Microsoft, but we also networked with executives and technology experts from other companies, including stackoverflow.com, Netflix, NBC, and consultants of Rolling Stone. They shared their experience with Microsoft products and the technique behind their design and audience analysis. Ideas they encapsulated into feasible features distinguished their company and values from other companies, enabling these companies to thrive in their niche markets. “  Janis Lee

Read the full report from Janis below …

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Vegas, Vegas, Vegas! Four days, three nights in a city skyline full of signs – what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Staying at an extraordinary hotel gleaming with class and beauty, the MIX 09 Conference was an educational and impactful conference. It brought in participants from all over the country and of diverse backgrounds. Not knowing what to expect from the conference, MIX exposed students and company representatives to the diverse range of web development programs. Even if you are not an expert with any particular program, MIX offered great insight to developing tools, designing methodologies, and anything in between.

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Throughout the conference, we were able to meet people and learn from their experiences – designing problems, entrepreneurial quests, and the latest development in the opening talks and keynote speakers. After breakfast in the great hall, about 2,000 people of all ages gathered in the conference room for the opening speech. Bill Buxton, the Principle Researcher at Microsoft, gave a phenomenal speech about the magic behind design and the key aspects about innovation.

One always hears about the importance of engineering and business in the world of industry, but not many emphasize the element of design. Design is the interface with the user that takes into consideration things users are supposed to do and not supposed to do. With timing and the nature of the transition, one is able design the perfect product by considering pros and cons of the features. The combination of the three components of engineering, business, and design make up the pillars of success for a product.

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Not only were we able to meet executives of Microsoft, but we also networked with executives and technology experts from other companies, including stackoverflow.com, Netflix, NBC, and consultants of Rolling Stone. They shared their experience with Microsoft products and the technique behind their design and audience analysis. Ideas they encapsulated into feasible features distinguished their company and values from other companies, enabling these companies to thrive in their niche markets.

The second day of the conference, we were introduced to Deborah Alder – the revolutionary designer that changed the appearance of medicine bottles for the first time in 40 years. It was inspirational to learn about her experience and the process she had to go through to get her design accepted by the real world. After many alterations and compromises to her original design, she was able to change the impact of the bottle with support from a major company like Target to prevent deaths from prescription mess-ups. The attention to the consumers’ needs enabled Alder to make changes and fulfill the needs of the people.

The most memorable part of the conference was networking with executives and representatives from various companies. The first night, Microsoft rented out a night club at the Venetian to build a casual atmosphere for the businessmen and students to mingle. While eating gourmet food, we chatted with executives and technology experts from companies of all sizes, including Blockbuster. They shared their experiences with programming, their lives, and general advice they had to give. It was exciting sharing similar backgrounds with each individual and networking with such a diverse crowd.

Attending the MIX 09 Conference was a great opportunity meet new people and learn new perspectives. Not only did we learn about new, experience-altering technology, but we were able to network with a broad range of companies and corporate representatives. Most of all, the flexible schedule enabled each individual to maximize their experience and networking opportunities. For those interested in learning about design, developing, or networking, I highly recommend attending the annual MIX Conference.