This is a particularly exciting month of July. The World Cup dominated attention spans around the planet. Now, the Imagine Cup community is ready to descend upon Redmond.
Roberto Sonnino has a unique perspective on both Cups. Originally from Brazil, Roberto works as a software development engineer for Perceptive Pixel. For years, Roberto was a passionate and persistent participant in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup: Starting in 2005, when he was still in high school, he competed seven times with his brother. They won six first-place awards across various categories.
“There are many similarities between the Imagine Cup and the World Cup,” Roberto says. “People from all over the world come together in one place. We’re competitors but friends. All eyes are on you, as you are on the world stage.”
When Roberto began his run of Imagine Cup participation, he didn’t know he wanted to work for the company. The event strengthened his involvement each year, and his ties to Microsoft. As Roberto puts it: “Imagine Cup was the front door to Microsoft. And the front door for Microsoft to find me.”
Roberto interned at Microsoft (in Redmond) in 2010 and 2011. The first was during his college years, while he was attending University of Sao Paulo. He also pursued a graduate degree in France, at Ecole Centrale de Lille. It was a dual degree Roberto says is considered a master’s in the U.S. At both universities, he studied computer engineering. Roberto says, “The internships made me want to work here.”
Like all futeball fans, for Roberto, this soccer-crazed summer has been full of excitement. He watched the World Cup everywhere he could: games at his home or at those of Brazilian friends, some at work, a few matches at pubs (especially on weekends). For Brazil matches, he says with a smile, “I made a point to be free for the whole duration of the game.”
For this year’s Imagine Cup, Roberto served as a judge of some categories. He reviewed and scored a portion of the projects, and wrote feedback to the students.
Here are four ways the Imagine Cup can advance the course of your career:
- It’s transformative. “I usually talk about Imagine Cup as one of my life-changing experiences,” Roberto says. “I always advise people: If you are considering Imagine Cup, stop considering and start doing.” The first round consists of developing an app, or writing about a way to solve a problem. As you advance in the tournament, “It’s more about going, starting, trying: See what happens.” Whatever a team’s progression, “Most people will get some benefit from participating in the Imagine Cup by just getting together and figuring out an idea.”
- It’s international. Besides making connections with Microsoft employees and participants from other countries, he says, you’re networking, thinking and developing alongside people from around the world: a cross-pollination of ideas. “This makes Imagine Cup the ideal environment to grow your career, especially when you’re in college.”
- The more you play, the better your skills. Roberto says participants receive many opportunities to improve their skills: They present and demonstrate. They receive and integrate feedback from judges. And they get exposure to the most innovative tech portfolio. “Every year in Imagine Cup, we gained an edge by seeing products in beta that had not been released yet. For instance, in 2006, we developed an app using the pre-release Speech Recognition platform, and we wowed the judges by using something no other team considered.”
- In the run of play, you gain creativity and resilience. For Roberto, having a sneak-preview of cutting-edge technology had an unexpected benefit: “Learning how to deal with technology that’s still in progress.” Consider that Roberto works on tech that’s so cool, we can’t even tell you about it yet. As Roberto puts it, succeeding in technology is about “knowing how to manage: How do you develop an app if the platform is not ready yet? How do you cope with the dependencies and issues? Those learnings I use on the job every day.”
Do you want to change the way the world works, connects, and plays the game? Find internships, full-time roles, recruiting events and more at Microsoft Careers, our global web site.