Getting Started with Microsoft

by David Samoranski on January 28th, 2012

I have been asked a similar question a few times over the last couple months. “If I want to get a job in your field or a related one, where should I start?” This conversation is usually motivated by some level of unhappiness from a current job or career. I love what I do and I am very grateful for my quality of life, so I have no problem offering advice. My recommendation for anyone is to discover a way to align passion with talent, and then find a way to monetize that activity. Monetizing the activity is the hard part.

Fortunately, technology gives us the ability to integrate our chosen expertise with unique business models so that we can make money doing what we love. Look at the web, social media, and the various app marketplaces exploding with growth today. There is opportunity everywhere, it is available to everyone, and it doesn’t cost much to get started. The key is to generate meaningful content or a valuable service and use technology to distribute it effectively. Microsoft has provided free tools and resources to help make the technology aspect easier to grasp. Anyone can become a social media personality, an app designer, or web developer if they have the time and motivation to do so. Check out some of the resources below to learn more.

Improve your Office game.

It’s all about creating content. The quality of the content you produce speaks volumes about you or your business. Many of us fumble around with standard Office tools like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and don’t use the features that were designed to make it easier for us to work. Knowing the possibilities of the tool set allows you to be much more creative when working with those tools and leads to better content. The team at Microsoft Labs has done an excellent job combining game theory and social media with technology training. Ribbon Hero is an awesome example of how innovative training concepts can make learning fun and engaging. Download the latest release at www.ribbonhero.com.

Get started developing for the web.

The Microsoft Website Spark program provides free tools and resources to help developers expand their knowledge and expertise. The program offers access to Visual Studio 2010, Expression Studio 4, WebMatrix, Windows Web Server 2008 R2, and SQL Server 2008 Web Edition. You can find more details and signup for the program here. After you have signed up and downloaded the tools, start with this 9 part tutorial to build your first web application using WebMatrix. Check out these free tutorials from W3 Schools if you’re new to the world of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Get started designing and building apps.

Microsoft Expression provides a complete toolset to design and build applications for the web, desktop, and mobile platforms. You can download a 60-day trial of the full version of Expression Ultimate or use the version that is available through the Website Spark program above (the Website Spark version of Expression does not have the SketchFlow application). Once you have the software, sign up at .toolbox to learn design principles and scenarios to build your skills. The .toolbox training applies a little game theory and social media to the training too, but not quite to the same level as Ribbon Hero. An additional 5-day training course is also provided to round out your understanding of the tool set.

Create a startup.

Microsoft has another program specifically targeted at entrepreneurs starting new businesses. The BizSpark program provides tools and marketing to help software startups succeed. They also have a network that connects investors and advisors to BizSpark participants to provide mentoring and support. Learn more about BizSpark.

From → Business, Technology

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