During university I consciously set out to win a ton of awards. 4 years later I have some 200ish awards like Top Whatever Under Whatever, Person of the Year, scholarships, fellowships, essay contests, design contests, innovation contests, public speaking awards, hackathons, etc.I have a ton of ribbons, medals, and certificates hanging on my wall.
Now it is advised that the resume for a fresh graduate be only one page. I have had three internships during my time in university and I prioritized putting those. I stuffed some of the scholarships under "Education." All of that aside, I have about 10 extra lines which lets me list 5 awards
None of these awards is a Nobel Prize or anything, so they need to be explained. Some fellow alumni might recognize some of the awards, but that it is it.
Here are some samples and my question follows below:
Here is my best award (I consider it the best because it was the most time consuming and the most competitive):
Issuer: Large American Bank
People beaten: ~600
Teams beaten: ~150 from around the world
What I did: I built a prototype for their retail banking division that improves customer trust (I can't say a lot as winning causes it to fall under a non disclosure agreement).
Standings: We came 3rd place
What we won: $5000 along with guaranteed interviews (those are pending).
Here is another award:
Issuer: My University
People beaten: ~100 (most people self selected out)
What it was for: I was named one of the top 100 alumni, staff, and students of the past X years.
What I did to win it: Truthfully, I wrote 6 nominations for myself and handed them out to friends to nominate me. But it is an award for general achievement and engagement with my university and I have some of that too. My name shows up alongside many people with Wikipedia pages.
Standings: Top 100 people. They did not rank us.
What I won: A glass tablet with the award name and a free dinner.
If I weren't such a socially awkward and fearful person I would have had a job from that ceremony but oh well. Maybe ill ask another question about this later.
Here is a third one: Issuer: A major hackathon
People beaten: 600
Teams beaten: ~180ish?
What it was for: 2nd place at a major hackathon for my hack.
What I did to win it: Created a great hack.
What I won: $800 bucks and a bunch of random hardware.
What is it that matters most about an award?
- The number of teams beaten? The number of people beaten?
- The issuer? Is an award from NASA where I beat 50 people better than one from Dow Chemical where I beat 150?
- What I actually did to win the award? I have a great prize for a paper in the blockchain space I wrote with some classmates, but I only beat 11 other teams. I consider it some of my best work, but it is unknown whatever outside that niche.
- Is a more prestigious 3rd place better than a more mediocre 1st place? What if I came first in Dow Chemical and 3rd at NASA?
- Is more recent better? Should I choose ones from 2019/2020 or is going back to 2017 ok?
- Is relevancy the most important thing, even if the award is not particularly impressive otherwise?
- Is it better to show a variety of skills or proof of repeated success in one? Im a software engineer and that is what I study, but is an award for public speaking beneficial or does it detract?
I mostly focus on using the awards as proof that I outperform others when set against them, but is that the correct strategy? I select for big names with lots of people defeated and usually do not have space for the prize amounts.
I basically just want a framework for narrowing 200 down to 5 in any given circumstance. What matters most to hiring managers?
I am mostly looking for software engineering positions just after graduating as my original offer got canned by the covid pandemic. Part of my conundrum is that most of the better awards are for doing software related things (so I delivered a prototype as part of them), but rarely did they ever judge the code, just the final product. I have some coding related achievements, but they are things like programming contests from first year.