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Wrapping up: Did we prove it?

Eddie Yandle

The proof lies before you now.

I can't believe that it was only two months ago when I posted my initial blog regarding Be the Next Microsoft Employee, asking you to decide whether we at Microsoft are really serious about the value of getting trained and certified to validate your skills. I hope you enjoyed the show and the many blogs from the judges, participants and interested fans as I was over that time. The show itself was incredible. It had drama; it showed the value of understanding SQL and the common (and not-so-common) challenges that IT Pros can confront on any given day and how they can overcome those issues by deploying the skills they've learned.

The show also clearly showed -- in my somewhat biased opinion -- the value of getting certified. Each of the challenges the contestants faced over the course of the show were ones that specifically are addressed through our certification exam process. Pete Harris did a great job in his blog post last week outlining the alignment of the five challenges with exams.

I want to congratulate all four contestants Alex, Chris, Mike and Stacy for their enthusiasm, work and willingness to put themselves in front of the world for this event. And a special congratulations and welcome to Mike as he is now a fellow Microsoft employee. Based on what I saw, I know he will be a great addition to the SQL team. I also want to thank the judges and the entire team for their work on putting together a great program. And finally, a special call-out to Mark Protus, who conceived the effort and sold the idea to multiple teams even amid numerous Doubting Thomases that he could pull this off (including me).

I would love to hear what all of you thought of the concept and what you think we should do next.

  • Mercwrought
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    How about a comedy / action web series about a hard charging non conformist SQL admin and his foreign socially inept tech who works in a casino, each episode they can solve mysteries and get into trouble.  Done right it could be quite funny.

    But seriously, great show it got my attention (not that I don’t have some certifications) and got me to participate by submitting entries each week. I think that whatever you do there has to be some sort of contest attached to it (merit based is best). I feel that it drives participation and gives those who enter a feeling of ownership in the process.

  • Jorge Montaño
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    I like the concept, I'll like to see a Be The Next Microsoft Employee with Developers, I think Developers are interesting people with all kind of facets, also I'd like to see more internationalization, that members from all the world can compete, I think that will make the show more and more interesting.....

  • Anne Hills
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    This event brought me to the site, the blogs, the linked resources, and new thoughts about my career and the gaps in my SQL knowledge.  I thought it was very well done and it improved my feelings about Microsoft and led me to look for ways to expand my skills.  I'm not sure it convinced me that certs are the answer.  I have found that studying for a cert exam is a good way to pick up skills in areas of the product I wouldn't have otherwise gotten into, but I didn't see that or knowledge due to training or cert/lack of knowledge from lack of training or cert, come through in this event.  However, it would likely have looked  manufactured (and been so) if multiple direct links had been made.  Training and studying for certs certainly makes a difference and that is implicitly felt.

    I was impressed with Buck Woody and all of the guest judges.  Particularly by the fact that they didn't appear to be holding back much, altering themselves or adjusting their responses much for the camera.  It made the event far more compelling.

    Next up.... I would gladly participate in contests for 'Create questions for the SQL 2012 xyz Exam' One topic per week perhaps, best questions submitted on this week's topic will be used for practice exams and winner will receive xyz prize, discount for exam fee or etc..

    One comment if Microsoft has similar events to Be The Next (which would be great)...... this was a contest, every step of the way.  Although the participants were friendly with each other, they were each certainly hoping to perform noticeably better than the others, and expecting the group to work well together on a challenge as a team, in the way that a corporate team might, seemed destined to fail.... which it did.  I think the only way to get fierce competitors to truly collaborate and work well with others is to design a prize explicitly based on how much a person assures that all others on the team contribute effectively, and provides zero "points" for providing the solution to the team's challenge or presenting it.