DreamSpark Student Review: Alex Furnell, University Student

How has DreamSpark made a direct impact on your life and how do you feel this has enhanced your employability?

This is hard to answer as I’m still in University and haven’t had a placement offer yet. Picking one of the two stories I have for you, it has to be the Search for a Star competition being run by Aardvark Swift Recruitment. This is a competition for students in their final year of a programming (games, cs) course. A month or so ago myself and two friends all applied for the competition and we took the initial first round test after encouragement from our teacher. Now, a year ago I’d consider those two friends to have a much larger knowledge of programming than myself. They’d both done programming at College, I’d started at University.

Thanks to DreamSpark and being able to make games with the Windows Phone Dev Kit and receive excellent support from the community, I’ve managed to really quickly develop my programming skills and also been able to take what I learn at University and really hammer it home by implementing things in XNA games.

When we took this test, we were told it was going to be really hard as we hadn’t been taught all of the answers to the questions. And for my friends, that was the case – they got stuck on several questions. Thanks to DreamSpark and the work I’d been able to do by myself, I was able to confidently answer those questions having already learnt and used these advanced techniques. I’ve moved through to the second round of Search for a Star and am sure my continued work with DreamSpark and Visual Studio will help take me further than I ever could of hoped without it.

What do you now achieve through the services of DreamSpark that you think could not have been easily achieved without it?

For me, being able to make games is important. With DreamSpark, I’m given the opportunity to do just that, for free. That’s pretty important as a student. Getting access to the Windows Phone version of Visual Studio and being able to make XNA games with a great amount of student support around is absolutely brilliant. Now, on the side of my University work I can build up my portfolio and get games out to the world. XNA is such a familiar game engine (something that the iPhone and Android development systems really cannot provide).

Can you describe to us how you feel DreamSpark has supported your skills development and how more tangibly use has supported you achieve better coursework and examination success?

All the Visual Studio offerings are a massive help: Windows Phone in particular allows making small games a pleasure and a great help at expanding my programming knowledge and best practices.

Everything that I’ve learnt through using C# with WP has been directly transferable back to every module that I program with C++ in.


To find out more about DreamSpark opportunities, visit the website: www.dreamspark.com

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