The 2015 Microsoft Student Accelerator (MSA) summer work programme is underway with 94 New Zealand university students earning placements at events in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.
Over the past six months, Microsoft has trained more than 600 students in Windows App and Microsoft Cloud development - both of which are required for the MSA projects. Of those 600, 94 received placements and will meet with 33 prospective employers in one of the three cities.
MSA is a programme aimed at New Zealand tertiary students who are interested in working in the IT industry. For 10 weeks, students work for Kiwi companies and are coached and mentored as they complete projects, developing apps and software in a real world IT business setting.
The MSA programme is in its second year, and Nigel Parker, Microsoft NZ, director for developer experience, says it helps to kick start careers.
He says it provides students with real life work experience, mentorship, industry connections and deep software development. He says the programme builds confidence and removes barriers for companies that want to encourage motivated and skilled IT interns.
Parker says it's a common challenge for IT students in New Zealand is finding work experience. “With the ongoing skills shortage, this is only going to grow if not addressed,” he says.
Students are matched with their preferred employer candidates based on their abilities, preferences, and the companies’ feedback from interviews. Many students are employed by the companies they’re placed with.
Companies that are taking part this year include Vector, Auckland District Health Board, Coca-Cola Amatil, Serko, Genesis Energy, Statistics New Zealand, Spark Digital, Datacom and a number of others.
Vernon Kay, Datacom, director, says the MSA programme has enabled his company to take on fresh talent with the head start of already having first hand experience working at Datacom.
“All the students have been mentored and guided by our best technicians, consultants and leaders, which makes them highly effective employees as soon as they begin with us," he says.
Students Hayden Do and Chris Duan previously completed the MSA programme. They won the Innovation category and the 2014 Microsoft Imagine Cup competition in the USA for Estimeet, their app.
MSA 2015 students begin their placements this month.