Though summer has kicked well and truly in and graduate students are clambering on the employment market to try and get a job, the odds are not in favour of any new graduate, even those with a high GPA.
Competitions like the Imagine Cup, where I am currently at in Warsaw, Poland, gives students the edge over their fellow students by adding ‘field experience’ and clear thinking, problem solving and prestige amongst their peers.
This year’s competition focuses around the theme of “solving the world’s toughest problems” including child poverty, environmental deficits and gender inequality, and is reaching its peak with the winners being announced on Thursday. More importantly, it is an opportunity for university students of all backgrounds and nationalities to develop applications and technological solutions to help make the world that little bit better.
Seeing the students wander the halls of this hotel, and the energy and the atmosphere resonating off the sea of multi-national identity, one thing brings them all together and that is the passion for technology and solving problems.
Interestingly, the vast areas of expertise compliment each other with the sheer number of students. Though they are competing for the final prize and prestige of the award, by working together to build their understanding of not only software and concept development but other important factors such as business skills, communications and team building.
There is a clear large group of female students participating also, showing a clear increased interest in the industry and the field since two years ago.
But no one student knows everything, thus the collective power of the press, company employees, guests, and influential developers are all adding their chips of expertise to help build powerful and employable futures for these students. What’s more inspiring is the non-competitive, friendly and helping nature from one to another; with much still to work for, the spirit of “the greater good” shows through.
Yet on the other hand, even though the company branding of Microsoft isn’t rammed down the throat of everyone attending, signified as such by no mention of the company in the Imagine Cup 2010 logo, the intense pressure of those I have spoken to, to conform to the company wider ecosphere is clear. The fact that the students need the company backing is clear – with no alternatives in sight, as no other organisation provides the meeting and breathing space for such an event, and that a need to ‘make it up’ to the other is unspoken but quietly obvious.
And with this, the employees seem to have already made their stakes and bets on certain competing groups, with an element of favouritism swaying to particular students without a clear pattern emerging.
Nevertheless, it is early days yet and two more packed days of competition, development – both personally, professionally and academically, and the opportunity to connect with those in the industry will provide a much needed backbone to the indistinguishable résumés of today.
Disclosure: Microsoft provided my travel and hotel costs, though no obligation was made on my part. This article is impartial and in no way swayed by the provisions given. I’m here to talk to and about the students, not the company.