Military Spouse Technology Academy readies for cohorts in Tacoma and San Antonio this fall

May 8, 2019

EDITORIAL UPDATE: (February 2021) The Microsoft Military Affairs team is committed to the military spouse community; however, at this time we have decided to discontinue the Military Spouse Technology Academy (MSTA). We will continue to look for and evaluate additional programs to support the military spouse community going forward (or in the future). Please continue to visit our website for any future military spouse community updates. 

Today we’re announcing the second phase of the Military Spouse Technology Academy (MSTA), which trains military spouses in technical and soft skills that equip them for careers in the technology industry. Following the successful completion of the pilot cohort on March 1 — which graduated 100% of its 19 participants in the Tacoma, Wash., area — the academy will also be offered at a new location in San Antonio, Texas, beginning this fall.

MSTA is the latest program to demonstrate Microsoft’s dedication to supporting the military community. It was built atop the success of the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), which launched in 2013 with the mission of providing important technical skills to transitioning service members and veterans.

Military spouses make up a highly educated, talented and hard-working group. Forty-five percent have a four-year degree or higher, but the demands of being a military spouse — frequent relocations, their spouse’s unexpected deployments and the challenge of sometimes living in remote areas — mean that they face high under- and unemployment rates.

At the same time, the technology industry continues to face a talent shortage.

For these reasons and more, Microsoft introduced MSTA, a 22-week onsite program that offers the opportunity for well-paying, long-term and meaningful careers in tech.

“We’re proud that the first Military Spouse Technology Academy graduates have accomplished their training goals,” said U.S. Marine Corps Major General (Ret.) Chris Cortez, vice president of Microsoft Military Affairs. “Now, we’re taking MSTA to San Antonio, based on its large military community, the city’s support for military spouses, and the many companies in the area that have committed to considering employment opportunities to hire these resilient and industrious graduates. Military spouses have a lot of potential. They’re going to be great employees.”

From MSSA, which has helped more than a thousand transitioning service members garner well-paid careers in the technology industry; to YouthSpark4MilKids, which provides immersive STEM workshops specifically for middle school children of military families; to MSTA, which is specifically tailored for military spouses, Microsoft endeavors to empower every person on the planet to achieve more.

MSTA empowers military families and the regions and industries that support them

Reflecting Microsoft’s ever-broadening commitment to this community, the new San Antonio location will offer the Texas-based military spouse community a chance to develop technology skills necessary for today’s digital economy. MSTA will also give local organizations a chance to hire motivated and skilled tech talent.

Microsoft works closely with Hiring Our Heroes — a nonprofit initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that connects service members, spouses and veterans to meaningful employment — to support the military community through MSTA and MSSA. San Antonio is one of Hiring Our Heroes’ Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones, which boost prospects for military spouses through a vibrant and robust network of employers.

“MSTA is the first of its kind for military spouses,” said Elizabeth O’Brien, senior director of the Military Spouse Program at Hiring Our Heroes. “Military spouses face unique challenges, but I will tell you we are masters of solutions as well. The program that Microsoft created is a perfect example of how companies can partner for innovative change to support military spouse employment.”

Jacqueline Widdis, an MSTA graduate and a program manager at Microsoft, had a 19-and-a-half-year full-time employment gap before starting the program. “MSTA has, quite frankly, changed my life,” Widdis said. “I knew what I had to offer a company, but I couldn’t get past that portal to show or even interview with a company to say, ‘This is what I’m capable of.’ Now, I feel empowered to take control of my own career, find out what my next steps are and walk in that direction.”

MSTA graduates benefit the companies that hire them

Jessica Jacobs, an MSTA graduate who now works at Boeing, found MSTA’s sense of community to be very valuable. “The most challenging thing about being a military spouse is juggling your household and your own personal aspirations,” Jacobs said. “MSTA can benefit organizations by teaching military spouses the fundamentals for IT. MSTA has empowered me to go after my dreams at all costs.”

MSSA and MSTA play a key role in funneling a unique pipeline of savvy and skilled talent from the veteran and military community into roles at some of the world’s most prominent companies. Our hiring-partner program is a group of more than 450 companies committed to hiring these graduates, who are often mission-oriented, adaptable and instilled with a sense of teamwork aimed at problem-solving. As a hiring partner, companies gain access to candidates with the drive, discipline, training and capabilities to succeed in a fast-paced and increasingly digital world.

Learn more about our upcoming cohorts in Tacoma and San Antonio, and see how to become a hiring partner to take advantage of the unique mix of skills cohort graduates have to offer.