Are you a student eager to explore your boundaries and expand your horizons? Do you have skills that you want to showcase to the world?
Student competitions provide a myriad of opportunities for you: a platform for you to demonstratate your talent, a stepping-stone to achieving greater things in life. They represent unconventional but effective ways of securing internships, scholarships, jobs and exposure to real-world issues. Here are six reasons why you should participate in student competitions.
1. Show your talent
Many students feel it is difficult to express their talents in school. Exams and group assignments do not always capture students’ unique skills or accurately measure the ability to apply skills to real-world problems. In contrast, many student competitions are based on solving “real” cases and problems.
By participating in a competition organized by a company, university or other organization, you have a new opportunity to show your talent and apply your skills. In turn, the rewards of student competitions, whether tangible or otherwise, can help you achieve your educational and professional goals. You might win an internship that leads to the job of your dreams, some money that would help you buy course books, or even help to start your own business.
2. Connect with top employers
Competitions can also be a way to connect with top employers, such as Google, Facebook or IBM, that are otherwise difficult to reach, in a setting that puts you and your skills in the spotlight. Regardless of your formal educational background, if you have the skills to win a competition, you have the ability to connect.
Applying through traditional recruitment channels can often be a drag, and many talented students fall through the cracks and never reach their dream companies. Traditional application criteria are based mostly on the level of academic excellence, which may or may not showcase your true talent and skills set.
Instead, take a shot and participate in their competitions! If you are skilled enough to get invited to the finals, you may have the chance to chat with members of senior management and impress them with your determination and passion in person.
Still not convinced student competitions are the way to land your dream job? L’Oreal hires nearly 1/3 of all graduate interns from its challenges! And almost all top employers organize some sort of competition for students.
3. Build your résumé the fun way!
Rock stars are instantly recognizable because they are not afraid to show off their talents and embrace who they are. If you win a large competition, you can claim your own ‘rock star status’ in the talent recruitment community!
Winning a couple of student competitions is a great way to stand out from the crowd and build your résumé, both the traditional way and via your social media profile. Show off your achievements on LinkedIn and Facebook. We assure you that the “Likes” will start rolling in, and job offers won’t be far behind.
If you are passionate about a subject that is outside your major, student competitions can also help show off additional strands of your knowledge and interests. If you are a mechanical engineer passionate about environmental sustainability or a chemist deeply committed to human rights, find those competitions and compete!
Don’t be put off or intimidated by a lack of “formal” qualifications. Passion and interest can get you a long way, not just in competitions, but in life more generally. Showing the breadth of your skills palette and letting all your colors shine will really help you to differentiate yourself.
4. Challenge yourself
Obviously, not everyone who enters the competition will win. However, even if you don’t receive any of the big prizes, you can still benefit from the opportunity to challenge yourself. You’ll learn new things and develop new skills – and even if you don’t win, you can still show what you gained from the experience, and talk about this in job applications and interviews.
The most important thing to note is that your competition journey is a process, not an endpoint. Any one success (or apparent failure) is just another stepping stone to the next point along the way. So whatever the outcome, focus on what you’ve gained, and how to keep on developing.
5. Get help to realise your dream
Whether it’s starting your own business or studying abroad, competitions can help you realize your dream. If you are planning on starting a business but need capital, there are competitions where you can win startup funding for your business. Good examples are the Million Pound Startup Competition, RICE Business Plan Competition and the Global Social Venture Competition.
Or, if you are running a worthwhile project, there are many award programs available that support your ideas, such as the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards and the Dell Education Challenge.
Additionally, there are many student competitions where you can win fully funded trips to incredible destinations and events. Some examples are St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award, ISFiT (International Student Festival in Trondheim) and My Destination’s Biggest Baddest Bucket List.
Perhaps you are looking for scholarships to start or further your studies? Scholarship competitions such as the Fordham Business Challenge, The New School Competition and Sweden-Vietnam Challenge allow you to showcase your knowledge and skills in a specific area of interest. Be it engineering, art and design or business management, there is a competition for everyone.
6. Test your ideas
Finally, student competitions allow you to test your ideas to see how viable they are, in a risk-free environment where you are able to collect and incorporate feedback from peers and professionals. If you are committed to realizing your dreams, any time spent on fine-tuning your ideas is a great investment.
What if you do not win the student competitions you enter? Remember, this is not time wasted; it is time spent learning and growing. Competitions should provide an enriching and stimulating experience that allows you to apply your knowledge to a specific, practical problem.
And if you don’t win this time, just enter again. The more you participate, the better you get!
Guest post: StudentCompetitions