It sneaks up on me every year. One minute, my family is fully ensconced in summer break, the next we’re deep into school supply lists and pre-work to prep for the first day back.
This year, as I’ve helped my own students get ready to go back to school, I’ve been thinking about all the cool (and free!) offerings Microsoft provides to bridge the technology gap for student developers. We’re committed to empowering the next generation of creators with access to technology and training – after all, our future is in their hands! – and we have a little healthy competition thrown in for good measure. Here are a few of the offers that students can take advantage of today and throughout their educations:
One of the newest additions to our lineup, developer hub GitHub offers their Student Developer Pack, which provides access to the best real-world developer tools and training. Students who join the Pack receive GitHub Pro at no charge while in school, plus exclusive offers from GitHub Education partners, including Microsoft.
Microsoft Azure for Students offers a free annual renewal subscription to our top cloud services, plus access to dozens of other Azure and artificial intelligence (AI) tools and training. Students can build skills in trending tech including data science, AI, machine learning and other areas with access to professional developer tools like Visual Studio Code.
Microsoft Education has a plethora of resources available for students and educators, who can get Office 365 free as well, which includes powerful tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and now Microsoft Teams and a lot more. This isn’t a trial – it’s a full-featured product that is free while the student is in school and offered at a big discount after graduation. Educators also have a wealth of resources available to them to help students engage with STEM, from customized training opportunities to unique Minecraft editions to access to special guest speakers.
For college and university students, the annual Imagine Cup competition is now open for entry. I’m continually impressed by the impactful ideas that come out of Imagine Cup – many of which go on to become full-fledged products. But big ideas that make a difference aren’t born in a vacuum, and they can’t be achieved alone. I think that’s one of the things that makes Imagine Cup so special. Students learn how to work together, be resourceful, meet deadlines and a select few receive funding to help take their ideas to the next level.
This year’s Imagine Cup theme is AI for Good. Driven by inspiration and a growing sense of purpose, we’ve seen student competitors create applications tackling some of the world’s biggest social, environmental and health challenges – one user at a time – and that’s what Imagine Cup is all about! So, it only makes sense that there is a stronger focus on AI this year. It’s one of the most promising ways technology can help us be more inclusive, effective and productive. I encourage students with a dream of a better future and an idea to sign up and get to work. I’m excited to see where the competitors take the challenge this year – and where the competition takes them.
Students who want to be a force for good and make a difference in their communities – while learning and sharing Microsoft technologies with their peers – can apply to be a Microsoft Student Partner, a program that lets student leaders gain experiences, access exclusive resources and gather real-world technical and career skills.
Finally, LinkedIn offers a wide variety of networking and educational opportunities to support students when it comes time to look for a job, learn a new skill or connect with classmates. A current and accurate LinkedIn profile is one of the best ways to build and maintain a career network.
Our goal is for all students to have access to the technology and support they need to make their dreams come true. Please share these offerings with the students in your life, and if you are a student, I hope you’ll take advantage of one or more of them to take your ideas to the next level this year.