Are competitions worth the effort?

This blog post comes via my colleague Sharon Cant and features some insights from one of our graduates on how competitions can give you an insight into an employer or sector and help you to develop an understanding of the range of opportunities in the labour market – Rebecca

Many employers and industries run competitions as a way of engaging with, and uncovering, potential talent.  Competitions vary in their length and complexity, but what they have in common is that they are a great way for students to demonstrate an interest in an employer or a career path.  In the spirit of School Sports Days, it really is the taking part that counts.  By investing some time and energy into a competition, you give yourself the opportunity to find out more about a career area that interests you.  The challenges that are set by employers are usually closely related to their industry, so chances are, if you enjoy the process of participating in the competition, you are going to enjoy working in that field.  Sometimes the time and effort that competitions require can seem prohibitive; and if you feel that your coursework and other extra-curricular activities aren’t going to leave you enough time to participate fully, we won’t argue.  But before you rule competitions out, think about not only what they are asking of you, but  what you stand to gain.   And if you are thinking that you would never win, it does sometimes happen! University of Edinburgh graduate, Mo Sriskulpinyo, tells us about her experience of entering, and winning, a recent competition during her final year of her Architecture degree:

 “I found out about the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Scotland Awards while attending the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival events organized by  The University of Edinburgh Careers Service. 

I took the opportunity, during summer breaks and my placement year, to work as an intern in fields such as Architecture, Product design, and Advertising. These experiences helped me to feel certain about the career I’d like to do after graduation.  I decided to join the IPA competition as a first step towards a career in advertising. 

The competition brief was to produce ideas that will encourage people in Scotland to adopt greener behaviour. During the planning process, IPA organized several briefing sessions and workshops which helped me to understand what they’re looking for in the idea submission. This led me to concentrate on producing and developing the best idea I could, rather than spending time on crafting a polished video presentation.

During the process of idea generation, I had to constantly criticize my own ideas no matter how much I already loved them.  People tend to get trapped easily with a good idea but by being self-critical, the good idea could become even better. At least that is what I learned from my degree in Architecture at Edinburgh. In fact, I did rip up the work I’d done 2 days before the submission deadline because I came up with a new idea I felt had more potential. I put my bet that the jury would prioritize the quality of the idea over the quality of the video presentation. 

The competition announcement was one of the best gifts for my graduation. The reward comes with an opportunity to do a paid internship, working alongside and getting advice from people at the top advertising company in Scotland.  This is great chance for me to explore further the career that I am passionate about.” 

The Careers Service publishes a regular Competitions Round-Up on the News section of MyCareerHub.  Competitions that are open at the moment include a challenge to build a new travel search website or app with Skyscanner, a challenge from Cisco to solve an environmental or social issue, and an Award from Green Alley who are looking for students to come up with ideas to turn waste into a resource. 

 

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