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Unforgettable: High Schoolers Meet the President of Microsoft Russia

Russia | IT for Youth | 25 Jul 2013

It all became possible when these six won the contest “I Choose an IT Career,” facilitated by Project Harmony, Inc., as part of the IТ 4 Youth Project and the global Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, in April and May 2013. The contest targeted high school students, encouraging them to explore the exciting world of jobs and careers, including IT professions, and make a presentation on an IT career of their choice. Winners were awarded wuth a two-day trip to Moscow and a personal meeting with the President of Microsoft Russia.

Accompanied by their mentors, six winners of the contest arrived in Moscow from Novosibirsk, Severodvinsk and Buzuluk on June 1, and were taken to Maxima Panorama Hotel, which they really enjoyed. After they settled in, they were offered to go sightseeing. It was their first time in the Russian capital, so the students had a great time seeing the sights, touring the Red Square and the adjacent Alexander Garden with its lovely fountains and the Grotto, visiting the Kremlin’s museums in the Assumption Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, and finally walking around the grand GUM Department Store, with an additional treat of tasting its famous flavored soda. Later in the evening the happy tourists were taken back to the hotel to have a little rest and get ready for their meeting with the President of Microsoft Russia. Next morning, before going to Microsoft’s office, the students visited the central WWII Museum and had a chance to see one of the most impressive views of Moscow from Poklonnaya Gora.

The first surprise that awaited the contest winners in Microsoft’s office was a chance to meet with Dmitry Soshnikov, one of Microsoft’s leading experts, coordinator of academic programs, and Microsoft Evangelist in Russia. Dmitry is an expert in logic and functional programming and AI; he successfully combines his work with Microsoft and teaching in two leading Russian universities, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Higher School of Economics. He shared Microsoft’s vision for the future, talked about key trends in modern IT development, outlined some opportunities for young people wishing to implement new ideas, and described some free IT tools/ applications that Microsoft offers in that regard. The students were very excited about potentially participating in developing future gadgets and took very careful notes. And even though Dmitry wasn’t able to be at the office personally that day, Microsoft’s video conference technologies and equipment made it possible for the students to experience the full effect of his live presence.

Here is what the students said after the video discussion with Dmitry Soshnikov: “We were able to look at the future from Microsoft’s perspective and see the corporation’s global vision, ideas and plans. It was exciting to hear about Microsoft’s contests for students and think about potentially participating in developing some of the new gadgets.”

Microsoft Russia’s President Nikolai Pryanishnikov walked into the room exactly at the appointed time. At first the students were noticeably nervous (it’s not every day one gets to meet top managers of the world’s leading IT corporations), but their avid interest and eagerness, combined with Mr. Pryanishnikov’s charisma, openness, professionalism, personal charm, and engaging manner, soon put them at ease.

Incidentally, from day one in Microsoft Mr. Pryanishnikov has been known to be an open and democratic leader, unafraid to delegate important responsibilities to capable people, making sure to have personal conversations with the staff, and keen on spending what free time he can with his coworkers, eating lunch, playing soccer, or doing yoga together. His main ideas on running Microsoft Russia can be seen on his official blog:

Mr. Pryanishnikov introduced himself, talked about his work, and shared some of Microsoft’s plans for Russia and the world. Then the high school students presented their winning submissions to the contest “I Choose an IT Career,” and talked about their personal IT dream jobs.

Mr. Pryanishnikov confirmed the great demand for IT specialists and expressed his faith in the potential of the upcoming youth generation. He also talked about the high value placed on Russian IT experts on the domestic and international labor market and emphasized Microsoft’s commitment to empowering young people for developing and implementing new ideas and opportunities in business, employment and IT training.

The high schoolers shared their own ideas and asked for Mr. Pryanishnikov’s opinion and advice about relevance of higher education, ways of choosing the best university, optimal information safety policy, IT opportunities for young women, desirable qualities for successful career development, and qualifications necessary for working with Microsoft. They were especially interested in Mr. Pryanishnikov’s recipe for success: what it’s like to run one of the world’s leading IT companies, what sort of experts the corporation seeks to recruit, and how it views the current developments in business in Russia.

In response to these questions Mr. Pryanishnikov stressed some things that seem obvious but are often sadly neglected: the importance of higher education and continuous learning and self-development for any modern specialist; developing effective time management habits that greatly enhance career growth; and the role of physical exercise for growth in strength and self-discipline.

The informal Q-n-A time was followed by the most exciting part of the event: the award ceremony. The President of  Microsoft Russia personally and warmly congratulated each of the contest winners, giving them gifts and award certificates, and then took them to see some of Microsoft’s latest flagship ultrabooks and mobile gadgets. The students also had a chance to play some games on Xbox Kinect – and absolutely loved the experience! 

One can say with confidence, that the main award of the contest “I Choose an IT Career” proved to be both exciting and very useful. It was a great emotional boost for both the high schoolers and their mentors, sure to leave them with unforgettable impressions.

According to the students, their participation in “I Choose an IT Career” proved to be very significant. Their projects enabled them to explore the world of IT careers, to look closer into their chosen field, and to begin making an informed choice about their own future jobs. They have also found expert advice from the President of Microsoft Russia invaluable, and intend to follow it in the future.


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