How to make a brilliant CV thanks to Imagine Cup

Two days ago we announced deadlines and submission requirements for Canadian Imagine Cup finals. And several students already asked me, if they really needed participate in Imagine Cup. Because it requires some time, energy and creativity but all the students have many exams, labs, hobbies etc.

Frankly speaking, I don’t want to copy any content from Imagine Cup site and I am not sure if I may think about Imagine Cup from student prospective. But I can discuss some things from employer prospective because I have worked as a team leader and IT director before coming Microsoft. I conducted many job interviews and I spent much time in order to find the best employees there.

Every time when I wanted to hire a person I started to review existing CVs in my Inbox and I tried to collect some more CVs. Of course, from time to time, we needed just senior developers but very often we needed students.

It’s easy to understand if you want to hire a person to professional developer position. It’s easy to find needed skills in his/her CV and it’s easy to understand the stack of technologies, which the person used before, especially if the person worked in the same small city. So, you just need to check if your team likes the person and it’s time to discuss salary and other benefits.

In case of students, it’s not easy to find a good guy because, usually, you have too many CVs there. So, in order to minimize number of interviews, you need decrease number of CVs. How to do it? First of all, I remove all strange CVs. So, if you are going to get position of Software Developer, it’s not needed to list all products, which you can run like Word 2010, Word 2012, Word 2013 etc. In the second step, I try to find some evidences in CVs, which will help to make decision about interview.

Let’s talk more about evidences. What is it and where to get some evidences for your CVs. In order to answer this question try to prepare your CV. If you just graduated, probably, you will have something like this: I was born… I finished a school in… I graduated…. My GPA is… And that’s all.  Do you think that you are the best student? But how to understand it? Of course, you can write about many projects at your University but, frankly speaking, I am not sure if I know difference between a lab and a University project. I believe that you are really the best student at your University that you can learn new technologies quickly and you are the best person for the position. But your CV looks like other CVs. Any internal projects might help from time to time but usually it doesn’t help. So, you need something special. But do you really have a chance to do something special?

Let’s imagine the following picture: you are the student at the University and you are so famous that a large company like Microsoft invited you to make presentation about yourself for 10 000 people offline and Microsoft CEO decided to forget about current deals in order to make a photo with you!

Do you think that it’s a not real? But I saw it three years ago, when our team won Imagine Cup contest in Australia. 


Steve Ballmer and Ukrainian team, summer 2012, Atlanta

Of course, if you have an evidence like this, probably you will create your own company, because you will get $50 000 and some additional grants there. But if you ever get half of this success, you will get a really cool evidence in your CV for future employer.

Therefore if you really want to find the best position and show your potential, you need to do more. Many companies organize hackathons, contests and external activities. From Microsoft side I would like to invite you to Imagine Cup. And, of course, I want to see a photo of a Canadian team with Satya Nadella this year.

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