ITMO Portfolio Contest: Winners’ Tips for Success
Last year, 162 students joined ITMO’s Master’s programs via a portfolio contest. ITMO.NEWS talked to some of them about their experience, the application process and whatever advice they can offer to this year’s participants.
Natalia Belyaeva, “Innovative Marketing” Master’s program
I found the electronic application system very useful: I was in Pskov when I submitted my portfolio for the contest. The application consisted of four parts, where I first had to tell about my motivation to join a particular program at ITMO University, as well as my scientific and academic achievements during my Bachelor’s years. There were many of them, and my motivation was strong: I really liked the university’s “Innovative Marketing” Master’s program, and despite applying to programs at other universities, it was ITMO that I wanted to study at.
It was publications, participation in conferences and contests as well as my practical experience in adjustment of advertising that helped me succeed. At the time when I applied for the contest, I still hadn’t got my diploma, and during my defense, I already knew that I got in my preferred Master’s program. That was really good. As for my Bachelor’s program, I majored at Pskov State University.
After I learned that I got accepted, I was contacted by the program’s coordinator who added me to a common chat. By the way, our program has a very well-established information support system for students, which is especially important if you come from a different city.
My advice for those who are going to participate in this year’s portfolio contest is to choose a program that they like most, and not something with a lower competition. Also, don’t delay sending in your documents, doing this in a timely manner is very important. So, give the contest a try, choose the program you like most, and remember that everything depends solely on yourself!
Yuri Bogomolov, “Neurotechnologies and Software Engineering” Master’s program
I joined ITMO University after graduating from Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio-electronics with a major in computer science and computing hardware. In the “scientific achievements” section of my portfolio I included two confirmations of my participation in scientific conferences from my university and one diploma from an international project contest which I got in my school years. For the “academic achievements” section, I had a record book with an average grade of 4.88 and a bunch of diplomas and certificates from programming contests, as well as several certificates which I got from various courses. What’s more, I attached lots of certificates and diplomas that I acquired during my school years, even a certificate from a language school where I studied English. All in all, that amounted to 37 items.
The hardest part, as well as the one that took most time, was preparing the portfolio: searching, sorting, deciding what’s relevant, and scanning it. The application process, as far as I remember, only involved filling a couple of forms on the website and uploading my file. Nothing impossible.
The results came in around the scheduled time. Still, I remember that it must’ve been after my thesis defense at my former university, which is something you have to account for.
I advise to enclose all certificates and diplomas that have to do with the subject field you apply for. Naturally, their quality is also important: I had many award winner (1st to 3rd place) diplomas and certificates in computer science and programming. Still, if you don’t have much of those and your certificates mostly speak of your participation in various contests, you should still attach them: I believe your motivation and persistence are assessed, as well.
The one thing I didn’t have in my portfolio is certificates from online courses. Those also give you some advantage, so if you still have the time, I think that you should consider doing one.
As for the “motivation for choosing ITMO” and “explaining your choice of a Master’s program”, you have to write not a couple of loose sentences but rather a full page of literate and meaningful text. Maybe even describe the process of how you made your decision. You can also explain how the knowledge that you aspire to get can be applied in your current or future projects.
Finally, I suggest reading the requirements for the portfolio several times over: they should also contain some useful recommendations.
Artem Kogel, “Innovative Marketing” Master’s program
I majored in politology at St. Petersburg State University, but then I decided to switch my career and become a marketing expert. In order to take part in the portfolio contest, I had to write two motivational letters and submit the proof of all of my achievements during my Bachelor’s years.
In the first motivational letter, I had to explain why I chose ITMO for my Master’s studies. My advice here is to browse through the university’s website and its various communities and write about its strong points and how they will help you in the course of your training.
The second letter has to focus on your choice of a Master’s program. Here, you should explain how the knowledge you’ll get will help you in your future professional activities.
It took me only a day to prepare my portfolio. In fact, I had two deadlines to meet: I also had to upload my graduation thesis in a testing system. So, I finalized my thesis in the morning, and then got to writing my motivational letters. I already knew what I was going to write about, so it didn’t take much time. Then, I photographed all my certificates, did screenshots of my articles and other achievements and focused on making a common pdf file, which turned out to be the hardest part for me.
In my portfolio, I aimed to show my achievements in various fields. I attached several articles that I wrote when I was still studying politology, as well as winner and award winner diplomas from various competitions. I also added documents from my participation in volunteer activities and organization of major events.
I didn’t have to wait for long; that was the time when I had to defend my diploma, so time flew fast. As far as I remember, the results for the “Innovative Marketing” program admissions were published even earlier than promised.
Daria Arjanova, “Biotechnology of Functional Products” Master’s program
I applied to ITMO University via the portfolio contest along with my classmate, and we both passed the selection. We learned about the contest a day before it ended; at that time, we were getting both higher and secondary education at the Pushkin Leningrad State University. Participation in the contest was convenient, as everything was in electronic format. We just gathered all the documents we had, scanned our record books and sent everything in at the very last moment. In just a week, I learned the results: when I saw my surname on the list, I hadn’t even had my diploma yet. It really helped me cope with the stress associated with my defense.
For my portfolio, I attached the results of my research project from when I participated in a Moscow contest by the Ministry of Health, where I worked with a doctor from the S.M. Kirov Military Medical Academy. I also added proof of my achievements in my university’s quizzes and contests, as well as publications and presentations on the subject of ecology and environment.
Tatyana Vovk, “Physics and Technology of Nanostructures” Master’s program
Participation in the contest was fast and involved the following: I had to prepare something like a resume in accordance with a particular format, and write an essay explaining my choice of a program and why it was important for me to enter it. I also had to write about my achievements.
Thanks to my excellent marks and participation in research activities, by my fourth Bachelor’s year, I already had enough articles and successful grant applications, so entering a Master’s program via a portfolio contest was an obvious choice. The advantage here is that you get to learn your results earlier than if you had followed the traditional method.
I took my Bachelor’s program at ITMO University, so I quickly learned what I needed about the contest. In any case, there’s also complete information on the website for applicants. If you have any questions, it is also possible to contact the coordinator of the program you chose, and there’s also a template of a portfolio that you can check with.
Ilya Koltsov, “Computer Visualization Technologies” Master’s program
My Bachelor’s program was “Computer Science and Computing Hardware” at Orenburg State University. My thesis topic coincided with what specialists from ITMO’s corresponding department are trained in, and I was also interested in computer visualization technologies. I wrote about it in my motivational letter, and I think that had an effect on the results.
In my portfolio, I included winner and participant diplomas from various competitions. There were quite a few of them: our university’s competitions in programming, national competitions, hackathons. Among the important ones was a winner diploma from the IT-Planet competition: “Development of a mobile system of 3D navigation in a multistoried facility”. Apart from that, I attached descriptions of two articles dedicated to 3D navigation and one patent. What’s more, I mentioned that I got an UNMIK grant for my graduation thesis.
Preparing a portfolio was quite easy, it was the anticipation of results that made me anxious. The lists of accepted applicants were published gradually, some earlier, some later. My name appeared at the end, and that was unnerving, so you should be ready for such things, as well.