ITMO Student Wins in Special Nomination of Huawei Honor Cup

Lena Ilyina is a third-year student at ITMO University’s Information Technologies and Programming Faculty. In the future, she sees herself as a developer, but it so happened that her participation in the Huawei Honor Cup contest was as part of the nomination “PR (ICT Observer)”. All the more notably, her participation brought her victory. ITMO.NEWS met Lena to talk about how she came across the competition, what it brought her to discover and what plans for her career she envisages now.

Lena Ilyina

Huawei Honor Cup

Honor Cup is a Eurasia-wide competition in the field of information and communication technologies organized by the company Huawei. Held since 2015, it aims to increase the motivation for self-education and professional skills development among young ICT specialists. Traditionally, the contest is held in five nominations: 5G (Technologies and standards of new-generation mobile communications); IT (Components of data processing centers); IP (Technologies and protocols of IP networks); Code; and AI (Models and methods of artificial intelligence). In 2019, a special public relations nomination (ICT Observer) was set up for communication specialists such as journalists and PR professionals. 

The competition is held in several stages: registration, which is in March; quiz, taking place from June to September; online tests in October; and finals in November. 

The winners are awarded a monetary prize or a trip to China, with Huawei products and an opportunity to do an internship at Huawei Research Center also contested. 

Huawei Honor Cup. Credit: social media
Huawei Honor Cup. Credit: social media

A PR programmer

How did you learn about the competition and why did you choose such an unconventional nomination? 

Representatives of Huawei teach a machine learning course at ITMO, and I thought that it would be interesting to have a shot at working in this company. So I decided to search for job postings and internships there and came across the Huawei Honor Cup contest. Unfortunately, I learned about it quite late and thus couldn’t take part in the main track for programmers, but there was an option of trying my hand at the special nomination of ICT Observer. This seemed like an interesting experience, so I signed up and started solving the tasks.

What stages did the selection include?

Firstly, you needed to write an expanded article on a topic in the field of ICT. The organizers provided us with different options: 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence. Secondly, you have to record a short video presentation about how technologies impact our everyday life. The third stage was conducting an interview with a Huawei expert. This took place as part of the final round at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS” in Moscow. Your interlocutor was picked at random; I got to speak with Kirill Kolpakov, PR specialist at the Huawei Research Center. We only had two hours to carry out the interview and post-process it, so we talked for about an hour and then I spent the remaining time frantically preparing the text.

Finals of Huawei Honor Cup. Credit: social media
Finals of Huawei Honor Cup. Credit: social media

Did you do anything to prepare for the final stage of the competition?

It’s hard to prepare when you don’t know with whom, and hence what about, you’ll be speaking. But I’d read through all Huawei websites, and watched those of their most recent conferences I had access to. All in all, I believe that the interview went well.

What prize did you get for winning?

A trip to China, which will take place in March next year. I’m not really sure but I think I’ll be shown how the company is introducing its technologies to everyday life in the cities. I hope I’ll get to see 5G stations and some of the latest smart city technologies. 

PR (ICT Observer) is a new nomination of Huawei Honor Cup. How justified is it, in your opinion, given that this contest for journalists and PR specialists was won by a programmer?

I don’t think that it was the organizers’ design to take experienced journalists and just yank them over to the field of IT. At the end of the day, technology is a rather complex topic one needs to be well aware of to write about it. Naturally, it’s closer to home for programmers. Maybe it was just that our articles were more competent and interesting as we know this field better. I’d like to note that I only met one journalist who partook in this nomination – just like me, the other participants were more developers than authors.

Lena Ilyina at the Huawei Honor Cup awards ceremony. Credit: social media
Lena Ilyina at the Huawei Honor Cup awards ceremony. Credit: social media

Has winning the competition made you think about requalifying as an ICT observer? 

This was an interesting experience as I hadn’t penned that many articles before, and I think that I’m lucky to have gone so far and even win. But in the future, it is in the capacity of a programmer that I’d like to participate in competitions and develop. This time, chance led me to success, but I don’t expect it to become a systematic thing.

How would you evaluate your experience of participating in Huawei Honor Cup in general? Did you find it useful?

For sure. This contest helped me realize that it’s possible to develop in the field of IT not only as a programmer, but also a specialist at the intersection of different spheres, for example journalism and IT.  I know now that there are other opportunities out there, so were I ever to get bored with sitting at the computer 24/7, I’d be encouraged to shift my professional focus slightly without needing to leave the field altogether.

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