Many of you may have seen the recent blog post about Rebecca Rickwood from Sawtry Community College , Microsoft IT Academy who came out on top as World Champion in Microsoft Excel 2007 at the 2011 Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office and I had the pleasure of meeting her at a recent visit I made to Sawtry last week.
In the short time I spent with her, it became clear that not only is Rebecca extremely academic but also a talented flautist. In the week before the World Finals, in May 2011, she was in Berlin playing in the County Youth orchestra. After the tour, she flew home, repacked and flew straight out to San Diego to the competition!
I asked Rebecca if she would be happy to conduct a short interview over Lync which I could then share with you, her actual experience of the competition, how she felt about it all and what she is planning to do with the well-earned prize money!
[EJ] What were your perceptions of IT before you joined the competition?
[RR] I thought IT was something that would be hard to get into and that in order to do IT as a subject, you had to be good at it already. I also knew that IT was a broad subject covering many areas’.
[EJ] -How did you get involved in the competition?
[RR] Sawtry runs the MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) exams which I was invited to join after school. Here you work through Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint before taking actual exams which then automatically enters you into the competition
[EJ] Why did you want to get involved?
[RR] It sounded interesting and I had not heard of the exams before so they stood out.
[EJ] What was your experience of the competition like?
[RR] Really good. I enjoyed it as I was able to talk to people from Microsoft and other participants and made friends from around the world including Singapore, New Zealand and the US. Many of whom I am still in contact with now.
[EJ] What would you like to do next?
[RR] I’d like to go to sixth form and then onto university to do a maths degree as I really love maths! Or Computing and IT is another option however not sure exactly yet.
[EJ] How did you receive support from Sawtry?
[RR] My teachers were really good. The after school classes helped me with preparation of the exams and they let me borrow a laptop with the MOS software loaded on. Sometimes exams were during lessons and my teachers let me out to complete them but all other prep was done after school.
[EJ] How does you feel the certificate will help you in education/work in the future?
[RR] I think it helps you to stand out from others as it’s different from just having A levels and a degree. You have the skills already, and really know the Office software which is applicable to all companies. I think you would really stand out to them if you went for an interview and had these skills
[EJ] Did the competition pose any challenges to you?
[RR] I thought it was harder than what I had done before, especially in the actual excel exam. I had to slow down and make sure I took time during the exam to really understand the question before answering however the school and Pam had given me enough prep beforehand for hard questions and although the questions were hard, I had enough time to answer all of them.
[EJ] Would she recommend MOS to others?
[RR] Yes definitely! It was really good and I’ve gained skills I wouldn’t usually have had. I can also put this on my CV which will make it stand out. I also found the whole experience really interesting.
On that positive note, I ended the interview with Rebecca however before I went; I wanted to know what she would do with the prize money. And without hesitation, Rebecca told me she had bought a new flute. Something very much earned.
And it seems Rebecca won’t be the last student at Sawtry to gain a qualification in the MOS exams. During my visit to Sawtry last week, I stuck my head into the classroom where students were practicing the exams before taking the real ones. Pam Kitchen, Microsoft Certified Trainer told me that these were becoming more popular with the students and many classes were full! They had recently given the chance for some year 8 students that had shown interest to come along during their lunchtime.
Without a doubt, Sawtry are very proud of Rebecca as I am sure she is herself. I really believe she will go far.
Well done Rebecca!
You can find out more on IT Academy and future ready technology skills here