Susan IbachTechnical Evangelist
So what really matters when you finish your program? Is it the diploma or degree? Is it what you learned in class? Is it your extracurricular work? Your work experience? All those pieces fit together to form your resume. But how do you stand out to an employer? How do you get that interview? How do you get the job.
Of course the answer is: it depends. It all helps. Having a diploma or degree tells an employer you have specific skills you learned during your courses, you can learn new concepts and technologies, you can manage your time effectively, and you can finish a major undertaking (your degree or diploma program). Don’t underestimate the value of proving that you can learn new technologies to a potential employer. Do you know what programming language I used on my first job? COBOL! (Yes I am old, but not THAT old), then I used Oracle and PL/SQL, then it was SQL Server and T-SQL, then it was C, then it was VB, then it was VB .NET, then C#, now HTML5. The point is, the technical skills you gain in school may help you get that first job, but your ability to learn the next technology will keep you employed in the future.
I was in the Bronx in New York, presenting at NPower (a really cool organization that provides IT training to underserved young adults). I met a student who was telling me how she felt she hadn’t performed well at her summer job, because when she arrived on the job she was told to do something in SharePoint. She hadn’t worked with SharePoint before and so she found some videos on Youtube and some training materials online and had to teach it to herself. She felt that because she didn’t have the right technical skills for the work assigned, she was letting her employer down. Absolutely not! Let me tell you, I wanted to hire her on the spot! Let me explain why.
She showed initiative and used the resources at her disposal to accomplish the task at hand. Sometimes there is someone in the office who can give you training, or sometimes you can take a course, but sometimes that simply isn’t an option. In her case the only training available to her was what she could get online for free. There was no professor to walk her through it step by step, she had to find the information on her own and teach it to herself. I can’t tell you how many times during my career I have been faced with similar situations. There are some people who will simply freeze up in that situation and do not know how to cope. They need someone to sit down with them and show them how to do the work. When I find someone who has that ability to learn something on their own, that stands out!
Students are great at learning! You are constantly absorbing and applying new information. That is what you are doing in every course, in every lecture, with every assignment. That gives you something to offer that is a particular strength to students. If you want to stand out from other students, show you can learn on your own.
How do you do that? One option is to build a phone application. I am going to suggest specifically building a Windows Phone Application, and not just because I work for Microsoft. You can download all the tools you need at App Hub, and as students you can even download the full version of Visual Studio development tool for your development at Dreamspark. One of the great things about developing for the Windows platform is you have access to such a great development environment. Visual Studio is a mature development tool so you can get your code written and deployed sooner because a lot of the little things are taken care of for you. If you have talent in graphic design you may also want to download Expression Blend so you can create your own 2D and 3D graphics as well. There are also lots of great resources out there to help you learn how to build an application, Paul Laberge put together a great page of resources to get you started. We’ll be providing even more resources to help you as the year progresses. Imagine giving a potential employer a link to a windows phone application you put into the marketplace on your resume. What you learn now in your courses is important and will get you a job. But learning how to learn on your own will give you a career!
Fall is upon us and school is in high gear. Now that you’re settled in your courses, it’s time to look for further opportunities outside of the academic world. If you are excited about technology enough to want to join a club or an initiative outside of the classroom, then you should consider the Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) program.
The MSP program is meant to engage and support students who are enthusiastic and passionate about the latest in technology. As a member (a Microsoft Student Partner), you will be challenged to use your knowledge and skills to engage in technology discussions with your peers at your school. You will get Microsoft’s resources and support to lead events, discussions and your own initiatives on your campus. And here at Microsoft Canada, you will have the backing of the Developer and Platform Evangelism team every step of the way.
Think of this as a special opportunity with long term rewards. Hone your skills, build a career portfolio and make connections in a role that is meant to be as fun as it is rewarding. As a Microsoft Student Partner, you will have the unique opportunity to be in the know on the latest inside scoop when it comes to Microsoft’s latest products and opportunities. This is also an opportunity to further your communication and presentation skills.
Oh and, did I mention the many benefits and perks of being a Microsoft Student Partner?
First, who can resist the exposure and recognition on campus with faculty and students? There is a good reason as to why Microsoft Student Partners are often called campus rock stars.
There is, of course, free software. Tons of software! In fact, an entire MSDN Subscription of software that gives you access to the latest and greatest of Microsoft’s products. Along with an unbelievable amount of software, numerous reference materials and training will also be provided.
And it gets better. As a Microsoft Student Partner you will interact with Microsoft Canada’s Technical Evangelists. The Evangelism team will support you through your term and provide valuable insights and connections that you can take advantage of in your academic studies as well as career planning. Speaking of career planning, as a Microsoft Student Partner you will develop real world skills to help you accelerate your future career and help land that important job or an internship opportunity.
Throughout your MSP term you will also receive numerous rewards and incentives for outstanding contribution. These rewards range from stuff you want and love to stuff that money just can’t buy.
Now what about you? Do you live, breathe and eat the latest in technology trends? Do you love sharing the latest in technology with your friends and classmates? Microsoft Canada is currently recruiting MSPs for the 2011/2012 academic year, and we think you should be a part of this exciting opportunity. To get started, head here, grab and fill out the MSP application and return it to us.
By now, many of you have probably seen the news that carriers around the world will start pushing updates very soon and through the next couple of months. It’s exciting because many that have seen and used the Mango update for Windows Phone in its beta format have seen it to be a very usable, interesting and viable platform that rivals any of the mobile platforms out there today.
Like you, I’m excited as well. I have been running the beta (build 7712) version of Mango on my own phone since around late July and it’s made me much more productive on the go.
So, with all that said, when can you expect the Mango update to be released by the 3 major carriers supporting Windows Phone in Canada? The answer is “soon”. I can’t tell you the exact date because that is something that is managed not only by Microsoft but also by our carrier partners, so saying a date right now on this blog would make a commitment not only of Microsoft but of our carrier partners as well. I can tell you Canadian users waiting for Mango will get it in the publicized timeframe that Eric Hautala statedin his post (which I linked to above), however.
What can you expect in your Mango update? Well, here’s a few of the features that I love:
So where can I check in on my update and scheduling by my carrier? As with previous updates, Microsoft will hold the latest information on the Where’s My Update page on the Windows Phone portal. Right now (as of the publication time and date of this post), there’s 3 updates listed, all showing “Delivering Update” status. As an FYI, none of these updates are Mango (7008 was the initial test update from January, 7390 was the NoDo update in March which introduced copy and past among other things and 7392 was a security update from April that fixed a certificate issue).
So stay tuned and rest assured that the Canadian carriers supporting Windows Phone will be pushing out your update in a timely fashion!
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post referencing how you as a developer don’t have to be torn between building mobile experiences in HTML5 or native phone apps. In fact, with the upcoming Mango release for Windows Phone, the “better together” story is a strong one that allows you to take advantage of great HTML5 goodness while harnessing that advantages that the native platform provides (like push notifications and live tiles) to create a full, rich experience for users and a manageable one for developers.
There are literally thousands of apps built leveraging PhoneGap across all of the phone platforms available today. This presents a great opportunity for developers with existing PhoneGap apps to port their solutions to Windows Phone Mango. With IE9 as the browser on Mango, the ability to leverage HTML5 and CSS3 capabilities on the phone while merging it with the great native features of Mango brings a new and fresh look for your apps that can reach net new users.
If you’re new to PhoneGap but know HTML5 or web development in general, then chances are it’s a great place to start if you’re interested in building apps for Mango as you can leverage those web skills and then learn how to code in some of the great app offerings that Mango provides.
Oh, and if you know nothing about building Mango apps but you want to know how to start (or know how to code for Windows Phone 7 but want a primer on Mango), the Mango Jumpstart training course is now available on demand! I blogged about the Mango Jumpstart training course a couple of weeks ago. It was a two-day, deep-dive, online training course that was delivered live for free. We have recorded each of the 14 sessions in this two-day course and they are now available for you to watch whenever you want.
The sessions available in this course are as follows:
So, what do you need to do now? Here’s a little list that is worth checking out:
As we kick off a new school year I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to the amazing resources we have available to help you at school, and to help you prepare for your career after school.
Writing Code? Graphic Design? Building Web Pages? Need a database? Check out Dreamspark. The Dreamspark program allows you to download all sorts of fantastic software tools for free. These are the same tools used by professionals every day in the workplace. You can use them now to help you with school assignments or to develop your own applications on anything from Windows Phone to Kinect! Dreamspark has more than just links for downloads, it also helps you find learning videos, useful references to read, and labs you can complete to help you get rolling!
Have you checked out Windows Phone? It really is an amazing device and with the new features being released in the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango edition it just keeps getting better. With the mango edition we now have a full internet browser, an integrated people hub that lets you integrate your Facebook, Phone contacts, and Twitter in a single location! You also get amazing messaging capability that will allow you to switch from your Windows Live to Text messages to Facebook messaging seamlessly! For developers Windows Phone is an incredible opportunity! The number of Windows Phone users is growing and the Windows Phone marketplace isn’t saturated yet, so its much easier to generate excitement and attention around great new apps. If you have never built a phone application before, it’s not as hard as you think and listing an application you published on a resume is a great topic to bring up with potential employers in an interview. If that weren’t enough you can even add paid advertising or charge for your phone application and make some money as well!
Proving to the world Students are the future! Imagine Cup is a competition that showcases students from around the world. Sometimes the problems of the world seem overwhelming, but if you break them down and look at the incredible capabilities of the technology around us, there are solutions! The Imagine Cup is a competition where students develop solutions to solve problems facing the real world. What would you build? A phone application that reads text out loud to help someone with a vision problem? An inventory system to help food banks inform the public of specific desperately needed supplies? What are you passionate about? How can technology help? Recruit a couple of friends and register for Imagine Cup! You could find yourself in Australia for the Imagine Cup 2012 finals!
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