Those IT professionals seeking advancement, or aspiring IT workers seeking positions, may want to check out an interesting combination package available (for some time now) from Microsoft. It’s called a “Career Package” and includes coverage of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, with SW Server 2008 R2 scheduled to follow in the March-May 2010 time frame.
Here’s the basic concept:
1. Enroll in any class listed in this table on the Microsoft Learning Special Offers page (Classroom training tab; no links are live on this screencap though you’ll find them active on the source page, with more coming soon in addition).
2. After clicking Enroll, enter the product name for your platform of choice, then scan the search results for a graphic that reads “GET SOFTWARE with Career Packages.” These courses will include free software along with the standard class materials.
You may have to extend your geographical range to find such offerings right now (for example, I found none in Austin, TX, which is currently the 16th largest city in the US; the only such courses I could find were in the Dallas and Houston metro areas). Be prepared to pay for this privilege, too: the sticker price for most such courses runs around $450 or better per classroom day. But if you qualify for some kind of financial assistance or tolerable financing, it might still be worth attending one of these three to five day sessions, where you’ll get initial hands-on and strong exposure, and come away with tools and licenses you can use to equip a home lab.
One more thing: the links from the MS search function to the vendor’s Web sites aren’t direct nor terribly seamless. Be sure to write down the course number for which you want the Career Package deal. That proved to be the best way to get to the Learning Partner sign-up and cost information pages, once I followed the “Register for this class” link on any specific listing item.