Microsoft Sponsors Internship Program

Microsoft and Monster Board are teaming up to help newbies land that elusive first job in IT. It's part of the Skills 2000 initiative.

Whether you're a typical college student making decisions about your entry into the workforce or a career-changer seeking hands-on expertise to accompany your new classroom training in IT, a new Microsoft-sponsored internship program may providethe job experience you need to round out your resume.

As part of its Skills 2000 initiative, Microsoft wants to encourage its Certified Solution Providers to hire people new to IT as interns. "One of the biggest barriers to hiring is finding people with experience,"said Karen Steckler, the Group Manager for Skills 2000 at Microsoft. "[And] it's a catch-22 for candidates in the marketplace-'Who's going to hire me?'"

Microsoft's latest effort, she says, is twofold: To provide companies with "opportunities to get people trained and evaluate employees as they move along and to provide the community goodwill in making sure internships are available to get people into the industry."

It works like this: Microsoft has contracted with Monster Board, a popular job market Web site, to post free internship ads for Solution Providers for four months. Potential interns will be able to post their resumes.Eventually, said Steckler, "We'll have a repository of interns looking for internships, and we'll have a repository of internship opportunities." She anticipates a thousand people being placed through the program in the first year;though she's hoping that the effort will attract other companies to attempt similar programs. "Because this is an industry initiative, it's really going to take everybody to roll up their sleeves and fill that pipeline."

She cites the success of a pilot project with Green Thumb, a national non-profit agency that worked with local Authorized Technical Education Centers to train 60 older workers in Windows 95 support, as first reported in the March 1998 issue. "Dell has taken a couple of graduates at entry-level positions, and Sears Business Centers has taken four people," she said.

Although originally Microsoft had intended to target people with certification who needed job experience, the company has backed away from that plan. "We're really going to leave that up to the companies doing the internships," she said. "Getting in-the-trenches experience will really help people on their track for certificaiton."

Does Microsoft itself plan to offer internships through the program in an attempt to fill some of its own skills gap? Although Microsoft currently takes interns from particular schools, Steckler said any decision to participate in Skills 2000 would be up to its human resources department.

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