I am a Professional: Qualification Round Starts with Over Half a Million Participants in the Game

The registration for this year’s national competition for students ‘I am a Professional’ kicked off on September 26 and ended on November 22. A total of 523,612 students submitted their applications, which is 78% more than the last year’s number of 295,000 participants. ‘I am a Professional’ offers its winners a golden opportunity of preferential access to Master’s and PhD programs of leading Russian universities, as well as an internship in a major company and a money prize. Having taken off on November 24, the competition’s qualification round will last all the way to December 9. 

Participant of the 'I am a Professional' competition. Credit: social media

Over the course of the registration period that was taking place from September 26 to November 22, 523,612 Russian students and graduates put in their applications for the national academic competition ‘I am a Professional’. According to the data provided by the competition organizers, 302,929 (58%) applications came from females, while 220,683 (42%) were submitted by males, a minor change from last year with the gender ratio of 61% to 39% respectively. Half of the registrations are accounted for by students aged between 19 to 21 years old.

“For the second year in a row, the majority of applications is for social, economic and natural science competition tracks. Interestingly, there’s also been a twofold increase in the popularity of IT tracks compared to last year; they now account for over 65,000 applications submitted,” commented Valeria Kasamara, Head of the ‘I am a Professional’ competition.

The increased popularity of IT tracks among students is in part due to the growth in the number of IT tracks themselves: these expanded from three to seven topics to comprise ‘Business Informatics’, ‘Big Data’, ‘Internet of Things and Cyber-Physical Systems’, ‘Informational and Cyber Security’, ‘Artificial Intelligence’, ‘Programming and Information Technologies’, and ‘Software Engineering’.

The top-10 of most applied-for tracks includes Psychology (27,409 participants), Mathematics (26,638), Economics (25,086), Management (23,806), Medical Care and Pediatrics (20,438), Programming and Information Technologies (18,764), Law (18,409), Biology (18,177), Human Resources (16,490), as well as Marketing and PR (15,515).

Leading in the number of applications this year is Moscow (posting a near three-fold increase compared to last year, from 46,450 to 123,840 applications submitted), St. Petersburg (also a near three-fold growth from 17,582 to 49,549 applications put forward this year), Sverdlovsk Oblast (increase from 19,177 to 22,437 participants this year), Tatarstan Republic (increase from 11,876 to 14,621), Tomsk Oblast (a more-than-twofold increase compared with last year, from 5,429 to 12,839 applications), Republic of Bashkortostan (increase from 9,610 to 12,803), Krasnoyarsk Krai (a three-fold increase from 3,922 to 12,603), Tyumen Oblast (increase from 10,780 to 11,906), Rostov Oblast (increase from 8,446 to 11,441), and Republic of Dagestan (with a record seven-fold increase from 1,598 to 11,341 applications submitted).

Over the course of the registration period, applicants were given the chance to gear up for the competition as part of the webinars held in each competition track by leading experts in this specific field. Webinars in the ‘Big Data’ track were hosted by the Dean of ITMO University’s School of Translational Information Technologies Alexander Boukhanovsky, who also took on the role of the main coordinator for this competition track. Training participants of the ‘Programming and Information Technologies’ track was Andrey Stankevich, Associate Professor at ITMO's Information Technologies and Programming Faculty and coach of the University’s seven-time ICPC champion programming team. You can watch the webinars here.

A workshop by Andrey Stankevich
A workshop by Andrey Stankevich

What also makes this year’s ‘I am a Professional’ competition special is that the organizers resorted to virtual assistant Alisa as an unusual way of helping students decide on a track to take part in. In addition, each participant had the opportunity to attend in-person workshops on soft skills, which were held in Vladivostok, St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Kaliningrad, Tomsk, Rostov-on-Don, Stavropol, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk, Kazan, Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, Kursk, Tyumen, Yekaterinburg, and Makhachkala.

The 2018-2019 contest consists of 54 tracks coordinated by Russia’s top universities. ITMO University runs not one but several competition tracks: last year’s ‘Programming and Information Technologies’, ‘Photonics’ and ‘Informational and Cyber Security’, as well as two new routes of ‘Big Data’ and ‘Robotics’ (which is co-organized by Far Eastern Federal University).

Sberbank is the main partner for the ‘Programming and Information Technologies’, ‘Informational and Cyber Security’ and ‘Big Data’ tracks coordinated by ITMO. The full list of tracks (in Russian) is available on the competition’s website.

Start of the online qualification round

November 24 marked the start of the competition’s online qualification round. Its full schedule (in Russian) can be found here.

After a month of competing, the students with the highest score will go on to participate in the second round, which is to be held in February 2019 on-site in universities all over the country. The venues for each competition track will be announced in December on the tracks' individual website pages. The results for this round will be made public on December 25.

At the end of January – beginning of February next year, track-specific winter schools will be held for high-achieving contestants selected in the additional round of motivation letters competition. The participants will learn from leading scientists and representatives of companies that stepped in as partners for the project. Each school will be practice-oriented, giving the attendants access to information that isn’t yet taught at universities. The schools are to be held on the basis of prominent universities located in different regions of Russia.

ITMO’s own winter school will be held on February 18-22, welcoming the participants of all five tracks coordinated by the University and featuring top scientists and industry experts as teachers and guest speakers. Last year’s winter school headliners included Andrey Sebrant, Product Marketing Director at Yandex, who visited the University with a lecture, as well as Andrey Stankevich, who led the workshops on sports programming. Also included in the school’s jam-packed program was a unique Semi-Hackathon, which gave its winners a number of admission perks, as well as other valuable prizes. Due to the increase in the competition tracks coordinated by ITMO University, the 2019 winter school is planned to have an even broader scope. The latest news and updates on the university’s tracks are available in this official VK group.

Andrey Sebrant
Andrey Sebrant

The final results will be announced in March-April 2019. More than 50 first-prize winners will be rewarded with money prizes worth 200,000 rubles for Bachelor’s students and 300,000 for Master’s students.

‘I am a Professional’ is a large-scale academic competition for students of different majors, ranging from science and technologies to humanities and social studies, with the tasks developed by experts from leading Russian universities and companies. Unlike other academic competitions out there, what this new-generation contest evaluates isn’t the participants’ erudition but their professional knowledge and skills.

Students with the best results will be rewarded with easy enrollment into Master’s and PhD programs of Russia’s top universities, an internship at major companies such as Yandex, Mail.ru, IBS, Netcracker, Kaspersky Lab, Sberbank, Microsoft, and IBM, as well as a money prize.

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