Army corporal puts his determination to work in MSSA

May 24, 2016


Andrew Germann doesn’t give up until he’s accomplished his goals. Whether it’s passing explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) school, which has a 60 percent attrition rate, with flying colors, or pushing to earn an added spot in an already-full Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) cohort, Germann doesn’t give up. It’s a mindset that has served him well, both as a corporal in the Army and as a software engineer for the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft.

“I have a habit of focusing on something and not stopping until I reach that goal,” Germann says. “When interviewing for a job at Microsoft, my passion sold me more than anything else. Successfully completing MSSA and landing a job at Microsoft was something that I worked incredibly hard to accomplish.”

That hard work didn’t just start with MSSA, though. When Germann heard about MSSA, which provides active duty U.S. service members with the career skills necessary to meet the IT industry’s high demand for talent, he immediately began preparing for the intensive program.

“While I was deployed in Afghanistan, I started looking into my options for when I left the Army,” Germann says. “I was getting out in nine months, and I didn’t really have any idea what I was going to do. I got an email from the Army’s education hub that announced MSSA. Somehow I talked my leadership into letting me work every night shift. Normally it’s a rotational basis, but I told them they could give my missions away so I could study. I studied different computer languages for four months until I got back in March.”

And that studying paid off. When Germann returned from his deployment, he found that the MSSA cohort was already full. But he was determined to attend the program, especially after all the hard work he’d put in while in Afghanistan. Germann was so determined, in fact, that he convinced the MSSA administrator to let him into the already-full cohort. And that, he says, has made all the difference.

“Programming had always been a hobby, so the material I studied in preparation for MSSA was difficult to understand,” he says. “Once I got into a classroom environment, I was able to bounce ideas off other students or whiteboard them. The ability to actually talk through problems was phenomenal. And, because it was all we did all day, I picked it up very quickly.”

That ability to understand new concepts quickly, combined with his never-give-up attitude, helped Germann land a job at Microsoft after graduating from MSSA. It’s that mindset, that attitude, he says, that will help service members find their footing after transitioning out of the military.

“Whatever you want to do, sign on early and work really hard to get there,” he says. “Just don’t give up; don’t think you can’t do it. You can, you just have to apply yourself.”