Hello to all visitors of this blog.
My name is Marc-Alain and I work in the academic team at Microsoft Switzerland. My role is lead academic relations & programs. I started to work for Microsoft in January 2006.
When I started my work, it was a start from the scratch, nothing existed and nobody was working in a coordinated way with Swiss high universities and universities of applied sciences.
But why should Microsoft want to work with higher education, was my first question when I saw the job description. Coming of the computer science institute at University of Bern, I had at least some ideas. I already knew that many persons at universities have a particular opinion about Microsoft, many times without knowing the Microsoft technologies at all. Many others like Microsoft but would like to have closer contact and a catch all contact point for any kind of question.
Indeed, this is how I started but soon we could grow and hire 8 part-time employed students, working 1 day per week for Microsoft. They are now present in all regions of Switzerland, close to faculty, IT services, students and all interested persons. They know Microsoft very well, do our internal courses, come to company events, are equipped with laptops and phones. They also work on our local campaigns, such as Imagine Cup.
The work we do is not without expectations to the future customers. We hope that students can convince themselves about the advantages of our technologies and use them in their future. This is similar to a bank giving free accounts to students, phone companies doing the same or laptop manufacturers giving 50% of discount to students. But all the discounts don't impact the future behavior in a positive way, if the products are not good.
The most important aspect of our work however, is the public perception of technical professions. Student registrations for computer science have fallen do an extreme low number all over the developed countries. Industry can't find enough professionals and has to outsource work. This is not what I think Swiss economy needs. We should have a strong position in the information technologies.
Many initiatives we run are directly focused to improve the image, making stories of things students do. I'll write more about that in the future.