MSSA cohort at JBLM celebrates achievement, shifts sights to new careers

Dec 19, 2016

Last Friday, 35 men and women at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) enjoyed a celebratory achievement ceremony to mark the end of another chapter in their lives. Having just wrapped up 18 weeks in Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), these transitioning service members can now shift their sights to a rewarding career in technology. And what better time to do so than the holidays!

They were all part of the 8th and 9th MSSA cohorts from JBLM, where Microsoft launched the program in 2013 before expanding to five other bases across the country. In that time, nearly 400 service members have completed MSSA, of which 95 percent are employed. That’s one of the reasons MSSA has been recognized as an industry leader in training active duty service members for technology careers. MSSA is projected to expand to service nine regions and 14 bases over the next years.

Microsoft vice president of Military Affairs, Chris Cortez, considers MSSA a win-win-win for the military, those who serve and companies searching for great talent.

“Military veterans are some of the highest qualified people out there in terms of the leadership skills and ambition that hiring managers are looking for,” says Cortez. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see a service member who’s excited about a future career in technology. That’s what MSSA is all about.”

The MSSA curriculum is delivered by Microsoft’s learning partners, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Saint Martin’s University (SMU), which started offering transition programs on JBLM back when veterans were returning from World War II. SMU has been working with Microsoft since MSSA started, and in January the school will offer the first off-base version of the program at its main campus in Lacey, Washington.

After completing MSSA, graduates are guaranteed an interview with Microsoft or one of several hiring partners throughout the technology industry. One such graduate is Blake Yarbrough, who starts his new career at Microsoft after the first of the year:

“I would not have made such a smooth transition to the tech sector without the help of MSSA. The multipronged education, along with hard work and dedication, will certainly guarantee any service member civilian employment.” – Blake Yarbrough, Petty Officer 2nd Class, U.S. Navy (retired)

To Yarbrough and the other members of the 8th and 9th cohort, congratulations and best of luck.

Read more stories of successful MSSA graduates in the tech industry.