Darren Straight's Blog

ICT Enthusiast and photographer.

By - Darren Straight

Microsoft Academy Marketing or Technical Programme?

So as most of you probably already know by now, when I graduate from the University of Kent in June 2007 with my BSc Honours Degree in Information Technology, I want to work for Microsoft, more specifically in either the MSN or Windows Live Division!

Microsoft is a company that I’ve always wanted to work for because not only are they an overall great company that works with ground breaking new technology, that of which I have a passion for. But they have also provided me with some pretty cool experiences and opportunities over the years, the latest being my acceptance into the Microsoft Student Partners Programme. So I can honestly say I would love to work for Microsoft.

However there’s a slight problem!

I’m just finding it a little tricky to decide which Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) Programme to choose out of a total of three, well two as I’ve kind of out ruled sales:

I’m just not sure if I prefer either the Marketing or the Technical Programme, because as it comes I’m not a great developer so you would think that the Marketing programme would suit me best as it would involve less developer related work, right?

But the thing is that the Technical Programme catches my eye with the following paragraph:

A technical career gives you the scope to leave a lasting legacy. You’ll be at the forefront of technology ― either playing a role in development or getting closely involved in support, technical sales, consultancy and other areas, where you’ll enjoy impact and ownership.

Which means that if I choose the Technical Programme I’ll get the chance to be at the forefront of new technology and play around with it, which is great, as the Marketing Programme will probably be less play with new technology and more lets market that new technology, right?

However saying that, the Marketing Programme catches my eye again because it’s probably the most likely path to lead me to be a Enthusiast Evangelist which is pretty much what I want to do as I get to tell everybody about Microsoft and what they are doing. Thanks goes to Miel for the information on it, as that’s what he’s currently doing.

But the problem is that like I mentioned before, if I choose Marketing, will I actually get to test the latest technology, services, software that isn’t public yet, as I do really love beta testing? Also I’ve never done any marketing per se at University before so could that put be at a great disadvantage? And so many more questions…

That you can see that I’m actually having to admit that I’m kind of lost and really not sure which programme to apply for. As I know what I want to do:

That is beta test the latest technology, service, software from Microsoft. While still interacting with the consumers and community by doing thing like blogging and going to tech events to inform them of Microsoft’s latest breakthroughs.

But I don’t want to make the mistake of choosing the wrong programme, because even though we all make mistakes in life for better or for worse, as sometimes we make mistakes that actually turn around our lives around for the better!

I just want to make sure I get it right the first time so I can enjoy myself as soon as possible.

So hey I’m going to reach out here and ask you kind people out there to give me some advice and ask for what you think I should do, even though I may not even be accepted into whichever programme I choose and also that at the end of the day it will probably have to be my choice.

It’s still worth knowing what everyone else thinks I should do though, so hey here’s them links again:

And a big thanks in advance to everyone who gives me any adivce , as I’ve only got until the 28th of January 2007 to send in my Application.

4 thoughts on “Microsoft Academy Marketing or Technical Programme?

Rikard December 22, 2006 at 5:01 am

I was going to check out all the links that you’ve posted on this Darren and reply later but now I have the time a voice in the back of my head said “Does he want someone else to make the decision for him?” 🙂
So I decided to write this ‘blind’ as the advice applies whatever the scenario. It’s only based on my experience having trained at college to do something I was passionate about and then spent many years working that passion. As you know I was born a bit before the Linux epoch ….

* FOLLOW YOUR INTERESTS – You know how folk who aren’t interested in computers can’t operate them and folk who are interested in juggling can juggle? It’s the interest that drives them and helps them find ways to succeed. It’s a better motivator than a career path or financial gain. You may have a passion for MS but at some point it will become ‘a job’ – it will be paying for your mortgage, kids etc and you will, inevitably, some day say to yourself “What the hell am I doing in this job?”. That’s usually when the company or your life is going through a difficult patch. I was a bit unlucky at one point in that my workplace had a long and messy period with an issue that hit the national press. Work was depressing and actually a bit dangerous for a while. Throughout that though I still found things interesting and managed to keep sight of why I started the job – because I was really interested in it. I’d left other companies for much less reasons where I was not really interested and it was just a means to an end.

* STICK TO YOUR INTERESTS – To be quite honest I never thought sales & marketing would be your cup of tea. Make no mistake it’s a cut throat area with a different motivation to the one you outlined in your original post – I.E. shifting sales ‘units’ rather than technical stuff. You’ve got to ask yourself what would happen if you had to market or sell something that you technically had no faith in (MS has done it in the past!). The focus will be on selling the product whatever it’s technical merits. Your collegues will most likely be coming from a sales/marketing background also – they are interested in sales and not the technical side.

* KEEP A WIDE VIEW – Don’t narrow your sights down to a particular path that MS have laid out. I notice you have an idea of where you could go with all the MS schemes available but maybe you should have a long hard think and get a ‘Blue Sky’ idea of which way *you* want to go and then see how MS fits into that. All I mean with this is that the horse is supposed to be in front of the cart IYSWIM 😉 Once you’re out there then who knows what else might catch your imagination and a broad base of experience will help you perhaps change path or get onto a better version of the one you are on. [Cue Victorian limerick re narrow paths]

There was a young man who said “damn!,
it appears to me that I am,
an engine which moves in predestinate grooves,
I’m not even a Bus – I’m a Tram!

* SUMMARY – To be quite frank Darren the fact that you are even asking the question does not bode well. Here you are at the start and you already have doubts about the marketing/sales thing – does that not tell you something?! When ‘all around are losing their heads and blaming it on you’ are you going to jump up and shout “I NEVER WANTED TO DO SALES IN THE FIRST PLACE!!” and will you get so disallusioned with the experience that it affects your interest in the technical stuff? I reckon look back to what motivated you to go to college, what kept you going through the difficult bits. I can’t see you getting as excited about the latest invention in how to market/sell stuff as you would with the latest technical stuff. Maybe being involved internally in ‘selling’ the idea of MS stuff to the MS sales staff so *they* can sell it but with your feet firmly on the technical side of the fence.

Just passing general thoughts but I am increasingly (58% and rising) interested in getting some sleep now so I better follow my motivation 🙂

BTW – Whatever you decide to do I wish you every success with!

* Remember the value of your personal interests may fall as well as rise.
* You may not get back what you put in.
* Your interests are at risk if you do not keep up the devotion due on them.
* Past interests should not be taken as an indication of future interests


Ben Hall December 22, 2006 at 6:24 pm

I think Rikard is being a bit harsh. I too am looking at applying for the Microsoft UK graduate program this year.

Personally, I’m going for the technical route as it is where my heart lies and what I really want to do.

Is there anything stopping you applying for both positions? Maybe after discussion in the interviews, you would be in a better position to decide.

One thing I do not get about the programme is – why does it start in January?

Good luck!

Zack December 26, 2006 at 7:42 pm

As I spoke to you on Messenger Darren, you know I worked with the MSFT Windows Live team this summer – so take it from me. I know you well, and what you’re good at.

Marketing seems to be the most logical path to take. It’s not necessarily about figures and stats, it’s not boring like in most other jobs. It’s making ideas up – thinking of how people want to use the products – you have direct input into what happens. C’mon, I got the Report Abuse buttons and links in Messenger 8.1 for a start.

Go marketing – the people I worked with and on occasion still do – I’ve got some great contacts, and they’re great people 🙂


Darren Straight December 28, 2006 at 9:26 pm

Thanks for all the advice guys, you’re brilliant! 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.