Some reality show winners walk away with millions of dollars. Mike Kett’s big reward is a job in Microsoft’s IT department. And he’s very happy about it.

The 36-year-old e-commerce and database specialist from the Boston area was crowned the winner of “Be The Next Microsoft Employee” this morning as the Microsoft Learning division wrapped up the web-based reality series that we first told you about a month ago.

Mike Kett, winner of “Be the Next Microsoft Employee”

You can watch the final episode above.

The series was taped weeks ago. Kett has already moved to Seattle with his wife, and he has been working at Microsoft since the end of July as a Microsoft IT program manager. His new co-workers knew he was the winner, but the company kept it under wraps to the outside world, to avoid spoiling the ending.

So how does it feel to land a job through a reality show?

“It was a really excellent way to see how people react under stress, and a relatively realistic interview process,” Kett said in an interview this morning. “The problems that we were presented with were not 100 percent realistic because of time constraints and inability to get additional information, but I’ve been under similar situations before in previous jobs.”

He said the experience of being on the show was “a roller coaster of emotions,” with the contestants not knowing in advance what that day’s challenge would entail. “The stress of just going through the challenges was a difficult thing to deal with. If you won, it was the highest of highs, and if you lost it was the lowest of lows. It was difficult, but overall, being able to take a step back and take a look at it, it was a really fun process.”

There was no Survivor-style backstabbing or rivalries, he said. He and his fellow contestants felt a camaraderie and would talk each night about the challenges. Also competing in the show were Alex Aguilar, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Chris Williams of Austin, Texas; and Stacy Luciani of Richardson, Texas.

The series 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. The goal of was to show the benefits of training and certification in technologies such as SQL Server.

The archive of episodes is available here. No official word on whether the series will be back for a second season, but a company representative says there’s lots of interest in the concept at Microsoft in Redmond, as well as in Europe and India.

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  • voleheart

    wish i could work for Microsoft!! :(

    • stacylaray

      You can do anything you set your mind to. Make it happen.

      • voleheart

        not at 13! :)

    • RedmondTruthTeller

      I work here, trust me, it’s better to just start your own software business. Don’t be reliant on someone for a job.

      • AngieK

        Considering how negative your tone is on more than 1 post, why aren’t you running your own software business or in another company? If you think that company is such a terrible place then leave.
        There are many of us who would be happy and grateful to take your place. I’ve worked in companies bigger than Microsoft and in small companies, including startups. They all have their good and bad points. Whenever I felt the the company is no longer right for me for whatever reason, I find a new place. Why still stay on the payroll and then publicly bash the company?

      • voleheart

        what do you do?? and you could start your own right??? i am a journalist and am wanting to get a nokia phi. working for microsoft would be icing on the cake.

  • LoveThatStackRank

    There was no Survivor-style backstabbing or rivalries, he said.

    That’s too bad because that would be excellent practice for the review system he’ll be subject to.

    I hate to say it but he’s also going to learn pretty quickly that ITG/OTG/MSIT (whatever they’re calling themselves this week) is viewed as the sticks within the hierarchy of the company.

    • StackRankLosersAreOftenBitter

      1) Just about every large company has a concept of a stack rank, implicit or explicit
      2) Not every group within a company can be the rock stars and support groups like IT seldom are
      3) Lots of people are perfectly happy to work in a supporting role

      • NotAllCriticsAreLosers

        1. Maybe but you’d be hard pressed to find a system that turns your peers into your main enemy (and all the hilarity that ensues) as much as this one.

        2. Note that I spoke to how its viewed: people are happy to work in a supporting role when they’re valued and respected for their contributions. I can’t say I ever saw MSIT treated in a way that’s valued and respected. They, Support and Test are all 3rd class citizens and the leadership and the rest of the company are happy to remind them all how they’re viewed regularly.

        • guest


    • UpVotesForYou

      you made me lol, sir, from the bottom of my jaded, stack-rank-bitter heart

  • guest

    Hopefully when the big layoffs come, now that PC sales are down 20%, they won’t be using the LIFO principle.

  • Nadaaa_Personal

    The show #BeTheNext, disappoint me… :(

  • RedmondTruthTeller

    Trust me, getting a job in MSIT is nothing to celebrate. As for the “no backstabbing” experience during the show, that’s ironic, because he most assuredly will experience it once he starts his new job in Redmond.

    • Lio

      You should have been worrying about the products, instead of worrying about your peers.

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