What is the one thing that could persuade more than 150 tech-savvy, northern California college students to leave their MP3 players, keyboards and monitors behind on a school night? Party at Microsoft, of course.
On Sunday, students from six colleges traveled to Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View for a pre-launch event, hosted by San Jose State University. Microsoft’s official launch day is today, but this was a chance for students to get a preview of two of the main products being released: Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, database and coding software used to create computer programs.
But before that, students were invited to speak with company recruiters and schmooze with other students.
Agnes Lui, a third-year student majoring in computer engineering SJSU and one of Microsoft’s student representatives, was the head planner of the event, which has been in the works since July.
She said her goal was to provide students with a chance to network and meet some of the many Microsoft representatives who are in town for the official launch tomorrow. But she also wanted to make sure students enjoyed themselves, which meant the event was catered and tech talk was kept to a minimum.
“I try to make sure it’s fun, not just boring techs,” she said, laughing.
The cost to students? Only the gas it took to get there. Even the food was free. But even though the participants were mainly college students, the food wasn’t the only reason they came.
Anan Siharath is an SJSU graduate student studying computer engineering. Siharath said he has used the older versions of both products for both school and personal use. He said he probably won’t graduate until next fall, so he wasn’t looking for a job just yet.
“I just wanted to see what the presentation was all about,” he said.
Some students were there because they wouldn’t be able to attend today’s launch at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. San Francisco is the first stop on a national tour to promote the new products.
Jennifer Chang, also a SJSU graduate student in computer engineering, said she was one of those students who couldn’t attend today, but she wanted a chance to see the demonstration of the products.
“I just want to check it out to see what it looks like,” Chang said.
Chang said she had been using the beta versions of the products, but she added that since Microsoft has added features since releasing the betas, she was interested in “the final product.”
During the “Recruiters Gone Wild” segment of the event, two of Microsoft’s Bay Area recruiters played a short video featuring Ed Helms from the “Daily Show” on Comedy Central to make the recruitment process slightly less intimidating. It focused heavily on the recreational aspects and perks that the company offered, such as beach volleyball and free refreshments.
But the competition is steep. Ali Gere, a member of the recruitment team, admitted that Microsoft receives upwards of 60,000 resumes each month from those seeking internships and jobs.
But Jeff Chen, a former intern at the Redmond, Wash. campus, made sure to point out that students who do make the cut often have a real impact on the company.
“This is the best internship program that any company offers,” Chen said. “But I don’t have to tell you that.”
About half the students at the event had some prior experience with the older versions of both programs. The presentations focused on the Express versions of both the Visual Studio 2005 and the SQL Server 2005. These are programs that computer engineering and computer science students use for school and personal use.
Anand Iyer, called “AI” by friends, is the local “developer evangelist” for Microsoft. He is the local contact if there are any customer questions about Microsoft products.
The SQL Server 2005 Express will be released for free on the Microsoft Web site today. Visual Studio 2005 Express will also be a free download for a short time as well, an announcement that was greeted with applause during the presentation.