It’s like Top Chef for geeks.

That’s the pitch from Microsoft for “Be the Next Microsoft Employee,” a new web series produced by Microsoft Learning, the part of the company that’s responsible for training and certification programs for people in the tech industry who use Microsoft technologies.

The show will debut online on Tuesday morning. It pits four veteran SQL Server gurus, selected from more than 100 applicants, in a series of head-to-head technical challenges designed to test their ability to develop business-oriented database solutions. A new episode, each about 13 to 14 minutes long, will be rolled each week until the winner is revealed in the finale on Aug. 21.

And yes, the person who prevails actually does win a job at Microsoft.

No, the reward is not quite on par with winning the Bachelorette, but we’ve gotten a sneak peek at the first show, and it could easily be mistaken for an actual television show. It’s definitely more exciting than we ever imagined SQL Server could be, with dramatic music and plot twists as the contestants present their work to a critical panel of judges.

Microsoft even put them up at a luxury waterfront home, where some of the behind-the-scenes filming took place, showing the contestants relaxing and getting to know each other before the competition begins.

The show was created by Mark Protus, a Microsoft veteran who came back to the company about a year ago to work in marketing for Microsoft Learning.

“We wanted to show the power of training, certification and preparation in a field like SQL Server,” he explained via phone today. “It can actually set you up with a career and really create a life.”

The show is presented in such a way that “you don’t have to be a SQL geek to get it,” he said.

The contestants are Alex Aguilar, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Chris Williams of Austin, Texas; Michael Kett of Winchester, Mass; and Stacy Luciani of Richardson, Texas. (Note: Spelling corrected.)

More info and previews on the “Be the Next Microsoft Employee” site.

Update, Tuesday morning: The first episode is now online.


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  • Stacy L. Luciani

    Hi. If you don’t mind, would you please correct the spelling of my last name? It is Luciani. Thank you so much!

    • Todd Bishop

      Sorry about that, Stacy. It’s corrected now. Thanks, looking forward to watching you in the show.

  • foil

    So at the end everyone gets stack ranked?

  • twinsfan1100

    I am wondering if it may give a view of a cross section of employees, US STEM workers being laid off, middle level employees moving up, and new H1B employees from India backfilling the empty positions.

    Then we could have Bill Gates running around constructing a media campaign of being a philanthropist, hiring propaganda organizations like the Brookings Institute to carry Bill Gates water in the name of being a charity. Then we could have Bill Gates reminiscing with one of Gates’ old friends Jack Abramoff about how Abramoff bribed US congressmen on Bill Gates’ behalf.

    This could be just a jolly good ole time in the lives of employees who work for one of the biggest scumbags in America, Bill Gates.

    • guest

      Time to up your medication again.

  • Barfy McWrinkles

    Sounds fun. Except the part about working for Microsoft.

    • Walt

      I almost fell out the chair laughing from that comment!

  • CFBMoo1

    I heard a lot of good and bad about the culture over at Microsoft. I’m not sure I’d specifically want to work for them. Plus I hate reality TV, yes this was a bad as I thought it would have been.

  • kallisti5


  • WhoCares

    How about a new show called, “Be the next Yahoo CEO”.

  • Bud

    “Top Chef” for geeks? Uh, except that top chefs don’t want to work at McDonald’s. And top geeks don’t want to work for Microsoft, either.

  • theKnife

    this just underscores the problems with the MS culture that lots of others have written about. rather than spurn internal collaboration, they encourage internal competition to the point it drives *real* talent away. the end result is damage to the ability of their customers to deliver IT services, either internally or externally. So, someone explain why i shouldn’t just jump of the MS boat now and invest heavily in something else?

  • Jerome Ibanes


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