Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nov 18th: Certified Career Conference UPDATE

This is a 'big fat update' on the Microsoft Certified Career Conference, let me share the latest information and let me address questions and comments you may have. I apologize for the size of this blog post, I wanted to summarize as much as I could in one single place. I hope this gives you a better idea of what the conference looks like and that we can share some of our thinking this way. That goes both ways, as we would love to hear yours!
It has been a while since we first announced the Microsoft Certified Career Conference. Since then, we have scheduled 34 sessions and over 900 people from over 100 countries have registered. The event has attracted nearly 6000 'likes' on Facebook. I cannot tell you how thrilled our team is with these results, THANK YOU! Thank you also for your comments, thank you for your questions and thank you for your great suggestions. In fact, following some of your suggestions, today I would like to do a full recap and I will try to answer as many of your questions as I can. Why are we running this event, where is the event, how did we select the content, why do we charge a fee, what does the career fair look like, who is speaking and who is attending and what will the event look like. A lot of valid questions, we love answering them and hence the 'big fat' blog post :-)
Why would Microsoft run a Career Conference?
Well, through our partners and Microsoft Certified Trainers, we train and certify thousands of people each month. We have always believed that skilled people have better odds. Even in today's tough economy, where companies hire less people, they still hire the best people. And that's where we feel we can help, and it is where we feel we should help; i.e. helping you be better equiped to start or expand your IT career.
Where is the event and how do I join?
This is a virtual event, so you can join at home, at the office, anywhere where you have internet connectivity. The conference will run for 24 hours so anyone in any time zone will be able to join in. During these 24 hours, there will be three simultaneous tracks. Obviously there is no way you could join all of the sessions live and we will record the sessions and make them available for download to all attendees, for 90 days following the event. The event is at a fee of $55 USD, there are discounts for students, MCPs and MCTs and you can register here.
How did we select the conference content (tracks, sessions and speakers)? 
Great question! Once we decided that we wanted to help people start or expand their IT careers, what would be the best way of doing that? At Microsoft Learning we are all about technical skills and so we quickly came up with some tracks where you can grow your technical skills. We redesigned the way we normally work and came up with formats that we think will work really well at this virtual conference. But to start or expand your IT career you also need great job-hunting skills, especially today. So we also added 'soft skills' tracks that can help you be successful at 'landing the right job'.
Technical tracks:
  • The 'Super Cert Me' Track: expert MCTs help you prepare for Microsoft Certification exams at Super Cert Me speed
  • The '60 minute Rock Star' Track: high speed learning that makes you stand out in a crowd
  • The Microsoft Official Courses Track: taking you through some of our official courses and learning as much as we can in just 2 hours
 Soft Skills tracks:
  • Career Essentials: soft skills like 'searching for the right job', 'writing letters that stand out in the crowd', 'preparing for the job interview' etc. etc.
  • A Day in the Life: first person accounts on what job roles are really like
  • Opportunity Knocks: the opportunities new technology can bring for you and how to grasp them
  • People and Technology: the impact of new technology on your career and on your team
Why charge a fee?
The conference fee is $55 USD, there are discounts for students, MCPs, MCTs and this weekend (Oct 23rd/24th) is a great weekend to visit us on Facebook. We are not making money on this event, fees will be reinvested in future conferences and activities. It is a way for us to do more of these events in the near future.
What does the Career Fair look like?
We have invited companies to run a virtual booth at the Career Fair; a place where you can meet potential future employers, chat with them to find out what kind of people they are looking for, find out how they look at people and jobs, upload your resume etc. Companies you can meet with at the Career Fair include Avanade, Dell, Monster, New Horizons, Levi Ray Schoup, Microsoft, Quickstart, Fevaworks Technology and we will also have a booth where students can meet and get advice. More to come and if your company, or other companies you know are hiring, are interested, please let us know or share this link with them.
Who is speaking and who is attending?
Let's start with 'who is attending': we're excited to have received over 900 registrations from over 100 countries. And you will not be bored: this week we scheduled most sessions and speakers, we will have well over 40 hours of exciting content for you! We still expect some changes and additions, so the agenda below is still a DRAFT agenda. Times on this draft agenda are PST agenda; add 8 hours for London time zone, add 16 hours for Singapore.
We will have a full agenda in downloadable pdf later next week, but for now the below gives a good first impression (click here or on the visual to be redirected to a place where this is easier to read:-). Check out our event blog for details on specific sessions, more details to follow soon!

What will the event look like?
We're working on a new virtual conference platform right now. We want to make sure you can enjoy the sessions, chat with others, share files and 'friend' people you meet. This event is about skills, it is also about personal networking, so we are working on both. Below a draft screenshot to give you an idea of the options you will have at the conference.

PHEW, that is indeed a big fat lengthy blog post, I hope it answered some of your questions and that you now have more information on the event. Please keep asking questions and please keep sending in ideas. We love hearing them!

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