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Microsoft’s Military Spouse Technology Academy pilot graduates are ready to enter the tech workforce

Microsoft celebrated the graduates of its Military Spouse Technology Academy pilot program on March 1, 2019.
Microsoft celebrated the graduates of its Military Spouse Technology Academy pilot program on March 1, 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, Microsoft hosted a recognition ceremony to celebrate the 19 graduates of its pilot Military Spouse Technology Academy (MSTA) program in Tacoma, Washington. This 22-week program helps military spouses prepare for and find long-term and meaningful careers in server and cloud administration.

“We’re thrilled that the graduates of the Military Spouse Technology Academy pilot program now have a brand-new opportunity to enter the technology sector,” said U.S. Marine Corps Major General (Ret.) Chris Cortez, vice president of Microsoft Military Affairs. “MSTA is part of our continued commitment to the military and veteran community. Military spouses are a flexible, responsive and well-educated group, and we’re eager to do our part in helping them find fulfilling and long-lasting careers.”

Behind the Military Spouse Technology Academy Program

MSTA’s goal is to empower this community with relevant training for meaningful careers in technology. The program was singularly constructed with spouses’ needs in mind.

“Military spouses are the backbone of support upon which members of the military accomplish their daily mission, whether here in the states or in foreign countries,” said Danny Chung, chief of staff at Microsoft Military Affairs and MSTA program director. “The MSTA program affords military spouses an on-ramp into meaningful careers in tech, increased quality of life for the military family, and fantastic talent for companies like Microsoft and our partners.”

Military spouses face unique challenges to finding purposeful work—including frequent moves, unpredictable schedules and ongoing child-care responsibilities. Although 56 percent of military spouses have an associate’s degree or higher, they face an unemployment rate of 16 percent, four times the national 4 percent average. In addition, 38 percent of military spouses are underemployed, earning less than nonmilitary spouses with equivalent experience, education level or both.

At Microsoft, we feel this is something we can help change.

About the First MSTA Cohort

This first MSTA cohort displays a breadth of backgrounds, experience and knowledge typical of what military spouses have to offer. The 19 members hold 35 college degrees and over 40 certifications. Graduates hail from more than eight countries and collectively speak 20 languages, including Portuguese, Spanish and Mandarin.

Annie Pineda, a member of the MSTA pilot cohort, struggled to complete her bachelor’s degree as a young military spouse. “I think I went to a total of three different universities to finish my degree,” she explained. A strong determination to succeed carried her through her educational journey, but since graduating, she’s struggled. “It’s really easy to just stop looking once you don’t find a great job the third, fourth, fifth time,” Annie said. “It’s tempting to just give up, but I think I’m here celebrating today because I didn’t give in. I kept looking and I kept wanting to learn and I kept persisting.”

That persistence led her to the pilot program. “MSTA gives me hope not only for myself, but also for other spouses,” she said. “Programs like this — especially MSTA — recognize that it’s hard to find a job, it’s hard to just graduate from undergrad. I feel MSTA levels our playing field with civilian spouses, or other spouses who don’t face some of those challenges.”

In the program’s final weeks, each participant interviewed for a position with Microsoft or one of MSTA’s hiring partners. They will hear about job offers in the next few weeks. It’s an important step toward the next phase of their careers.

Microsoft’s Commitment to the Military Community

At Microsoft, our dedication to the military community is holistic, empowering transitioning service members, veterans, spouses and children with skills for the workforce of tomorrow. Last November, Hiring Our Heroes Awarded Microsoft the USAA Military Spouse Employment and Mentoring Award for the company’s work supporting military spouses.

Our wraparound support for the military is also evident in Military Affairs’ cornerstone program, the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA). It provides transitioning service members and veterans with essential technology and soft skills required for today’s digital economy. In addition, Microsoft’s YouthSpark brings STEM education to children of military families.

Check back to this site for updates on Microsoft’s support for the military community.