Microsoft has developed several training programs for veterans over the past decade, and the company is launching another program in our region in October.
The Microsoft Software &Systems Academy is an 18-week educational program that Microsoft conducts in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It provides active duty soldiers and veterans with the necessary career skills to meet demand for server &cloud administration, database &business intelligence administration, cloud application development, and cybersecurity administrators.
The program is one of few that trains active-duty U.S. service members for IT jobs and is a cornerstone of the DoD Skillbridge program, which prepares members on active duty for their next career. Classes in Fleming Island will start October 16.
The MSSA program launched in 2013 and has had over 600 graduates, many of whom have started careers with an average salary of $70,000. Interested military members and veterans do not need to have an IT background to qualify, but applicants will take an aptitude assessment before beginning the course. In addition to ERAU classroom work, Microsoft delivers coaching on professional development and building a personal brand. Active duty members within six months of their discharge date can apply with their command’s support.
Throughout the program, service members have access to resources like JobPlex, a staffing agency Microsoft has on retainer to assist participants with career placement support. Upon successful completion of the course, participants are guaranteed an interview for a full-time position with Microsoft.
I spoke to a military veteran based in Phoenix, who enrolled the MSSA while stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Edgar Sanchez served in the Army for seven years after a civilian career as a firefighter and EMT, achieving the rank of E-5. He decided not to re-enlist and started exploring options in late 2015 in anticipation of his discharge. The MSSA seemed like a great fit. His command supported him, allowing him to report for duty each day at the Academy until he left active duty in 2016.
Sanchez was interested in IT, but knew that he wanted a customer-facing role.
“I liked the idea of a lucrative career in a cutting edge field,” he says, “but I knew that working with people was my strongest skill.”
He excelled at coordinating class presentations and, unlike some of his classmates, enjoyed public speaking.
He found the personal development coaching offered by Microsoft to be invaluable.
“The JobPlex team was so helpful in getting me prepared and building my confidence for the interviews,” he says.
Microsoft interviewed the program graduates onsite. Sanchez was selected for a second interview and was flown to Microsoft’s Seattle headquarters. He accepted a position as a technical assistance manager, supporting government, education and military agency customers in Phoenix and Salt Lake City. He also helped start a pilot program that allowed new technical assistance managers to ease into their roles over six months.
Microsoft doesn’t offer work to every MSSA graduate, but it has more than 200 hiring partners, including Accenture, Dell, Expedia and the Department of Defense.
If you’re interested in the program, you can find information, including requirements, at Microsoft’s site: military.microsoft.com/training/mssa/.