By now I think most of you have heard about the Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) program which is offered through the Washington State Library. The ITA is a collection of over 400 online courses and other IT instructional materials that are available to all Washington residents. But have you heard yet about the newest addition to the program, the opportunity to prove your skills with certification?
Thanks to the hard work of Elizabeth Iaukea, certification sites are being set up all over the state. While completing the trainings provides the necessary skills to be competitive in a 21st Century workplace the certification tests are the best way to prove to employers the depth of your knowledge. Having attempted just a basic test myself I can attest to the fact that they are not easy.
Well, on Monday January 5th, the Washington State Library’s IT Academy program certified their first Microsoft Office Specialist Master (MOS). And now I’d like to introduce (drumroll…) Jeremy Stroud, WSL’s graphic designer, web guru and now Master of the Universe (er.. of Microsoft Office). In order to earn this lofty title Jeremy first passed the entry level tests in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. Then for the Master certification he also passed the expert level class in both Word and Excel.
Here’s what Jeremy has to say,
“I have been using Microsoft Office programs since the mid 1990’s, being first introduced to the suite of programs while in high school. I’m not shy about facing challenges so if I came across issues while using an Office product, I dug around until I found a solution. This tinkering and experimenting with Microsoft Office, in addition to the courses taken through the years, have allowed me to have a very broad and in-depth knowledge of the programs. The rise of the internet has made this even easier as there is now a wealth of knowledge available, such as the Microsoft IT Academy. When opportunity to take the certification arose, I decided to see how far my knowledge went. I believe that having my MOS Master certification will open many doors for me as I continue throughout my career.”
The Microsoft IT Academy and MOS certification testing has been available in all of WA’s public high schools for almost four years now, but has only been available to the rest of the state since November 2013 (MOS certification followed a year later), through special Legislative funding provided for the program to the State Library and available through all public, tribal, and community and technical college libraries in the state.
“Adding certification was the natural next step, and missing piece to make the online training pay off.” Iaukea explains. “As the many who have suffered through periods of unemployment know all too well, it’s not enough to have the skills – you have to be able to prove to employers that you have them. Microsoft Office is the third most requested job skill, and MOS, as THE industry recognized credential for this software, is the BEST way to demonstrate that you have those in-demand skills.”
That’s why, in 2013 the Legislature approved money to support the program for the biennium ending June 2015. As a result, anyone can take the online courses and use the Study Guides provided by their local libraries to take a MOS exam – without having to travel as far or pay as much to test ($50 or less rather than $125).
We are proud and extremely lucky here at the State Library to have a MOS Master in our midst. But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s hear what some of his co-workers have to say
Jeff Martin – Head of Library Development
“I always knew Jeremy was talented when it came to Microsoft Office software. I frequently ask him the “how do I” questions that stumped me. I consider myself an intermediate user of the software suite when it comes to Word, Excel, and Outlook. After mixed results with the basic certification tests on Word and Outlook, neither of which I passed, only one of which I came close to passing, I have a new found respect for how in-depth Jeremy’s knowledge of these products truly is. Jeremy is a great problem solver for Microsoft Office. My problems, his solutions.”
Rand Simmons – Washington State Librarian
“Jeremy is my go to guy for Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint. I know the rudiments of the software but when I am baffled he saves my bacon by making a quick fix. I have yet to encounter a problem he couldn’t resolve. His mastery of Microsoft products shows in the excellent products he produces.”
Will Stuivenga – Cooperative Projects Manager
I consider myself to be a relatively savvy computer user, especially when it comes to Microsoft Office products … But I know that I can count on Jeremy to run circles around me in terms of his exhaustive knowledge of specific features and functions of any MS Office product. And if he doesn’t know the answer off the top of his head (which he often/usually does), he can quickly find it (by sitting down briefly at my computer), or (if needed) look it up online. In some cases, I can look things up myself, but in many situations, it’s simply easier and faster (i.e., more efficient) to just ask Jeremy, than to struggle on my own. Having him here in the department is a wonderful and convenient resource that I have used and relied on countless times over the almost 11 years I have worked here in Library Development.
While Jeremy’s co-workers will certainly reap the benefits of his expertise we hope that this mastery will be reproduced around the state as more people complete the courses and take advantage of the certification program. Go Washington!