How has DreamSpark made a direct impact on your life and how do you feel this has enhanced your employability?
Since I am currently a PhD student and have not yet applied for a job, I cannot give any direct evidence on how DreamSpark has enhanced my employability. However, I can discuss two areas where I think this will have a positive impact as I soon enter the job market.
Firstly, thanks to DreamSpark I have significantly improved my programming skills. I have built and published an app in the Windows Phone Marketplace, which required me to learn C#, the .NET Framework, and the Windows Phone SDK. Previously I have only coded in C and Matlab for various academic projects. There is a vast difference between coding for scientific work and building a software application, and I feel that my skill set has been greatly enhanced. For example, I have learnt techniques such as object oriented programming, which I have since used in my academic work. Moreover, in building an application I have had to consider such things as the end-user experience, visual design, user interface, etc, which are not necessarily required in my scientific work.
Secondly, I now have experience of having a product available for consumers to purchase. Consequently, I have registered myself as self-employed in the UK to declare any earnings I receive from app sales. I have needed to consider both marketing and customer relations, and in the last few weeks since the app's release I have learnt a considerable amount in these areas. I have written to various websites asking for reviews or promotion of my app, and have been fortunate to have been featured in some of these. I have also written a guest post on the Microsoft UK Students blog discussing my experience in building the app. I will soon make the app free for a limited period to move it up the rankings and increase its visibility, which in the long term will hopefully lead to higher sales. I will also consider publishing a free, ad-supported version of my app in the future to increase the total revenue. In addition, I have responded to customer feedback and have already updated the app based on this. This entire experience, and in particular the initiative I feel I have shown, will reflect positively on me as I apply for jobs.
What do you now achieve through the services of DreamSpark that you think could not have been easily achieved without it?
I have now published an app, Calculator², in the Windows Phone Marketplace. This is a paid app with a trial, and in the first two weeks has been downloaded 362 times with 45 people paying for the full version. Without the services of DreamSpark I would not have even contemplated developing an app on any platform. Also I have acquired new programming skills, which have improved my academic work allowing me to produce and analyse scientific data in a more versatile and effective way.
To find out more about DreamSpark opportunities, visit the website: www.dreamspark.com