High-Tech Head Start

This Microsoft program helps students begin careers in network management, systems administration, and programming.

The number of jobs in the IT industry is expected to double to more than 1.2 million by the year 2005—far faster than the number of qualified candidates available to take new positions. If you’re looking for well-trained, entry-level professionals to join your IT department or Microsoft Certified Solution Provider company, take a close look at the Microsoft Authorized Academic Training Program (AATP).

The Microsoft Certified Training Education Center (Microsoft CTEC) program—formerly known as the ATEC program—serves IT professionals seeking to expand their skills and advance in their careers. However, both entry-level candidates and their potential employers told us that they needed a program to expose students to IT and to help them prepare for their first IT positions. With this impetus, the AATP was born. It prepares students to begin careers in network management, systems administration, and programming.

Since its introduction three years ago, AATP has grown exponentially. A year ago we had just 250 schools in the program; we’ll soon have 1,500. This year, we trained more than 100,000 students at over 1,000 high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions.

How Does it Work?

Under the program, institutions receive software licenses and discounts on Microsoft Official Curriculum materials for the courses they offer. There’s no charge for institutions to participate in the AATP, but all AATP courses must be taught by Microsoft Certified Professionals.

High schools make up approximately 40 percent of AATP institutions, with community colleges making up some 50 percent and four-year higher education institutions making up the rest. Students in these schools often gain other important, non-technical skills as well. For example, students at the inner-city Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, Delaware gain motivation and self-esteem that boosts their overall performance at school and improves their chances of attending college.

You never know where students who undergo AATP training will end up. Mike Arnold was a self-professed technophobe in high school in Wyoming just three years ago, before beginning AATP training and certification. Today, he’s on the Windows NT testing team here at Microsoft. Arnold recently told me, “Were it not for the AATP, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today in my career.”

For more information about AATP, go to microsoft.com/education/?ID=AATP.

About the Author

Kris Vezina is a manager with the AATP at Microsoft Corp.

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