Do You Know the Next Satya or Sheryl? Tell Them to Become a Microsoft Student Partner

2555_microsoft%20student%20partnersCanada is recruiting Microsoft Student Partners for the 2015/2016 school year. If you know a student in university or college in Canada with a passion for technology, please encourage them to apply at . Read on to learn more about the program and where it can take a student with passion!

Most kids in university belong to some form of extracurricular social collective or another: debating, Model UN, intramural sports, or a Greek letter society. These are good venues to develop domain specific skills and connect with like-minded people. Some people just want to get on with it and build something great. For individuals who do not fit a mould, there is another opportunity at hand.

Once upon a time, at an otherwise unremarkable computer lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, someone walking into the lab would be surprised to find a sleeping bag lined against a wall. One day the Department Chair walked in and demanded to find out why there were indications that someone slept on his pristine lab floors. The body in question belonged to future Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; he had found a way to work on his research well into 3 am.

When Satya got the chance to quit work and undertake a second degree, he was torn between pursuing a opportunity at Microsoft and going to school. Well actually, he was only torn momentarily because he decided to fly to Chicago from Redmond every Friday for night classes. He finished his MBA in 2 and a half years.

The rest is history, Satya took Microsoft’s cloud to new heights (sorry, I had to) and is now bringing about some of the most of interesting times at Microsoft since when Bill Gates helped put a computer on every one of our desks and laps!

While many of her peers were listening to Ice Ice Baby and stopping for Hammer Time, Sheryl founded the Women in Economics and Government group at Harvard, to encourage more women to partake in the fields of economics and public policy. Her tireless work in the field led her to become a research assistant for the chief economist of the World Bank which in turn brought about a position as an economist on the Clinton administration.

Aspiring to get into tech, Sheryl soon joined a three-year-old Google as vice president of global online sales & operations. When she left five years later, Google was well on its way to becoming the most valuable advertising business ever.

Soon after, as COO, Sheryl turned Facebook into what was presumed to be a toy and a fad for teenagers into a mass communication tool responsible for social and political upheavals and bridging together societies of all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds, all while making it into one of the most profitable companies ever and the starlet of the startup mythos.

The common trend between these two individuals is that they both worked tirelessly to beget the social and economic developments they wanted to see in our world. They’re really one in a million and part of the reason they succeeded was undoubtedly by getting lucky and bumping into the right connection or the right job. We’ve been working on something that will precipitate such conditions more often for students and we’d like to share this you, in the hope that you will find the next great leaders of our generation.

Inspired by icons such as Satya and Sheryl, Microsoft has long been actively developing the Microsoft Student Partner program (MSP for short). No, it’s not an upcoming killer app for Windows 10. Rather, it’s an opportunity for students who are restless about doing great things. With the MSP program we want to find young individuals so obsessed with building great technology and starting social movements that they’re currently not catered to via traditional campus social initiatives. We’d like to believe that we provide something that would have greatly facilitated Satya’s and Sheryl’s quests to empower humanity. (Well, Satya is technically the chief sponsor of the MSP Program, so there is good reason to believe so!)


Satya wants the next great technical leader to be an MSP

The MSP program is basically an accelerator of sorts, where students get the opportunity to sharpen their technical skills in all the technologies that matter today, with an emphasis on cloud, mobile and web. MSPs get access to all of Microsoft’s extensive repertoire of software free of charge as well as a generous amount of Azure credits. They get consistent contact with engineering and business mentors at Microsoft as well as possible visits to various national technology conferences and summits. Given the opportunity to experiment, MSPs then go out and further hone their skills by giving workshops and throwing hackathons. Industrious MSPs will go beyond the norm and the garner the chance to intern at Microsoft and partner companies, or build their own business.

Ideal MSPs are enterprising, hyperintelligent and extremely keen on learning what they don’t know already. They should be able to take initiative independently, but they must also relish leading sizeable groups of their peers.

But why hear it from me? Check out the accounts of the following former Microsoft Student Partners and see where they ended up:

Sage Franch

sage_microsoft_campus_2Sage Franch became an MSP to help further her efforts in several endeavours in which she was passionate about, in particular empowering women to undertake opportunities in computing that are traditionally less accessible and bringing technical knowledge to those individuals who do not typically access to it. Her extensive teaching and writing enabled her peers to become knowledgeable in the areas of Human Computer-Interaction and Kinect Development. She was able to impress her Microsoft connections through the MSP program which landed her 2 internships at Microsoft which ultimately led her becoming a full-time employee while still studying in school! During her internships, she got a chance to travel from coast to coast and also visit Redmond on several occasions.

Read an account of her experience here.

Rudi Chen

Rudi got a chance to be an MSP much earlier than the average student; he was already one by the end of high school. This was directly as a result of his work in disseminating his technical knowledge to his peers (In fact, his evangelism work led me to switch from studying health sciences to technology and ultimately my employment at Microsoft!)

Using the app development skills he accrued as an MSP, Rudi went on to compete in the Nokia Capture competition. Impressed by the ideas of his team, Nokia had them flown to Lund, Sweden to compete in a 27 hour hackathon where they could flesh out their app plans into a working prototype. Coming out as the top contender, Rudi and his partner was taken to Abu Dhabi for Nokia World, where they were named on stage by the then CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop.

Rudi then went to work on computer vision research at Waterloo and recently has been interning at Dropbox in San Francisco.

Ahsen Basit

Ahsen Basit was always keen on providing opportunities to others, so when one was presented to him, he used it to provide more to others. As an MSP, Ahsen hosted countless workshops to help his fellow students learn app and cloud development. His exceptional work led him to become one of the top 3% of MSPs worldwide. As a result, Microsoft took him to Seattle to network and collaborate with MSPs from all around the world.


Ahsen (Left) representing Canada at the MSP Summit in Seattle.

Ahsen used his considerable app building knowledge and network of contacts to start a startup while still in school. Opprox “Opportunities in Proximity”, is now providing big chain restaurant type loyalty programs to businesses all across Ontario. The app allows shoppers to get access to offers and collect loyalty points and vendors to attract new customers and retain old ones.

See more about his work:

So do you know a Satya or Sheryl? Someone like Sage, Rudi and Ahsen? Send them our way and help us foster the next set of enterprising leaders to bring about social and technological change!

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