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Two Generations of IT Professionals Talk Employability and Proving Your Skills

Man and woman shaking hands

A few weeks ago, we wrote a story about the 2016 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship, a global competition that tests students’ skills in Microsoft Office Word, Excel® and PowerPoint®. This year's World Championship was held in Orlando in early August.


After she brought her son’s resume to a Montana bank so he could be considered for an internship, Tina O'Donnell recalls, "The HR rep told me, ‘I wish everybody had a resume like this.’”

Her son, Nick, stands out among intern candidates. He is the current U.S. Champion in Microsoft Word 2013, a title he secured in the Pearson VUE Certiport Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship in Orlando earlier this month.

He has just graduated from high school.

“We never expected Nick to be named the best in the United States,” she says. “But I do think he’s a rock star.”

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Nick O'Donnell and his mom at the 2016 Microsoft Office World Championship in Orlando, Florida.

Making A Resume Stand Out

Nick’s certifications in the 2010 and 2013 Microsoft Office programs, as well as a long list of other extracurricular activities, help him prove his skills to potential employers.

“I think you need to have computer skills to be employable because that’s where the job market is going,” says Nick.

“You also have to adapt because technology is constantly changing.”

Nick was offered, and took, the internship at the bank, working on their document management system.

At the age of 18, he also became the resident expert in Microsoft Office.

“I was really impressed at how he was able to interact with adults more than twice his age. When we had a very technical discussion, something moms and sons don’t usually have, I knew he had changed,” says Tina, who is also employed in IT at a bank.

“When hiring, I look for those soft skills like teamwork and leadership.”

After graduating, Nick was hired to work in IT for the Anderson School District in Montana. He is on-site, helping educators with the technology in their classrooms.

“The Microsoft certifications helped me get the job,” says Nick.

His experience helping his old high school out also gave him a boost—as well as his passion. “I’m really excited to learn new software.”

Nick
Nick O'Donnell with Pearson leaders.

Looking Forward to a Bright Future

He’s also studying computer science and business at Montana State University. What does he want as a career?

“CEO of Microsoft,” says Tina.

Her son is a bit more modest: “I’d like to be an IT manager."