Doing Mindsumo Challenges for Fun Got Me a Innovation Job In Finance
An amazing story from our top solver Matthew Gaiser from Queen’s University at Kingston on how he turned his side hobby of solving challenges on MindSumo into an actual job in an exciting area of Finance.
This summer I landed a job working at ATB Financial as an Innovation Summer Student. What’s ironic is that this very company just recently completed their own challenges on MindSumo related to a really cool topic on Virtual Reality. Now I get to work for them to see if I can bring these ideas to life.
Even though I am only a week into the job, I am loving it so far and it looks like I will be part of many fun projects. But this write-up isn’t about my job. It’s about how I got it and how Mindsumo was crucial to obtaining the position. I want to share this information with you so you can also find a job with projects you find interesting.
Okay, it’s time to pull back the curtain and show you all the materials I used to get the interview.
Cover Letter: Mindsumo challenges allow you to be unconventional and credible in the cover letter which helps you stand out
Know what most cover letters are like? Dull. Boring. Consisting of mostly fluff and template text. I have had to screen applications for a job on behalf of my employer and many times during each review, I thought I was rereading the same cover letter from different people. If cover letters were school assignments, the prof would accuse most people of plagiarism.
When you wrote your last cover letter, how much changed from the one you submitted for the previous application? Was 80% of it copied from a prior application? Was the original letter drafted with the help of a template that hundreds of other students use? See why they are all similar?
Here’s my cover letter. Granted, ATB is unusual in financial services for its tech-like culture, but the same principles would apply in a more traditional letter as well. It would just be formatted differently.
The cover letter is not about merely rehashing your resume. It is to bridge the gap between your resume and the job requirements. I like using MindSumo in my cover letter because it gives me extra talking points and evidence that you can meet job requirements. The great is that you can accumulate many MindSumo submissions to use as data points in a short period of time.
Resume: MindSumo provides unique resume content which sets you apart
(For reference, the resume which landed me the job.) Even if you have only answered 2-3 challenges and have only won one, there is still value in having them on your resume.
Here’s the thing. Everyone has a degree. And employers are slowly losing respect for that as a credential. Companies do not believe that universities are training students well for the job market.
Everyone has participation in clubs and this participation is devalued given how many people use them for the purpose of putting on a resume. It’s no longer a bonus, it’s a pre-requisite. Furthermore, you participation in a club carries no validation and confirmation that your actions produced anything meaningful.
Mindsumo challenges provide a refreshing addition to resume because they contain novel experiences that are verifiable and the evaluation of your work is often done by a major household brand. In my own case when I was applying to ATB Financial, I had the ability to apply my work from other financial institutions such as State Farm and the United Nations Federal Credit Union as relevant experience from companies within the same industry. Validation and credibility mean a lot to hiring managers.
Extra Credit: MindSumo Provides a Work Sample to Show Your Hiring Manager What You can Actually do
Let’s take winning out of the equation with MindSumo and look at the skills and ideas that you get from these challenges. In my opinion, these are skills that are seldom taught in college because you can’t get this stuff out of a textbook. The skills I emphasize are the ones that provide actual value to the company and help them answer questions. What’s not valuable? Your ability to recite formulas, concepts, and frameworks from a textbook. At my desk at ATB I have 3 ebooks open and access to Google to help me with all that. Outside of academia, that’s not cheating. That’s expected.
One of the most important skills that I have developed from MindSumo is creative thinking done on the fly. So it made sense that along with my resume and cover letter that I also provided these 5 ideas for innovation at ATB. I borrowed a few ideas I had put together from past Mindsumo challenges, but most these ideas I just came up with on my own because I had done it some many times before.
By taking an hour to go through this exercise and apply a skill that I learned, I had automatically set myself apart from all the other candidates.
In addition to giving your future boss something more interesting to read besides a generic cover letter, you are giving him or her a gift of ideas that can already be valuable while demonstrating that you understand the job well enough to produce a meaningful work sample. Why wouldn’t you be hired at this point?
Most importantly you are proving to your future manager that there is little risk that you will turn out to be a dud. The cost of a mis-hire is in the tens of thousands of dollars and about 20% of people are mis-hires. More than half of people lie on their resumes. Far more embellish. We all spin the facts in a way which reflects well on us. Work samples are difficult to plagiarize, cannot be embellished, and while can be dressed up with graphics, fundamentally cannot be faked.
Thanks to MindSumo my story has a happy ending. What’s even more amazing is that I got my job at ATB Financial by dropping the very packet of materials that I just talked about into one of those online sites that mascarade as a black hole for job applications. No one ever gets an interview from those sites yet here I am with a job.
I hope that you find my story and documents helpful. I promise that I’m not a paid spokesperson. MindSumo really does make a difference so check them out at www.mindsumo.com!
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.