Most people don’t use Excel unless they really have to and generally it is related to work. Spreadsheets, budgets or inventory are common reasons to launch the Windows software. But for 17-year-old John Dumoulin from Northern Virginia, US, Excel was a way to track the statistics of his favorite baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now the skills from his hobby have helped him win $10,000 in prize money and become the champion of an international Excel competition.
High school IT class inspires teenager
Dumoulin learned about the competition in his high school IT class. He was taking certificate courses in various software programs and his score on the Microsoft Excel 16 certification exam was the highest in Virgina. Gaining this title gave him a qualifying ride into a national competition in Orlando, Florida.
He won the national competition along with a cheque of $3,000 USD. The title also meant he became eligible for an all expense-paid trip to the world competition in Anaheim, California. Dumoulin took the title that included $7,000 USD in prize money!
Fierce competition intimidates
The Virginia teenager admitted he was surprised at the ferocity of the competition, saying, "Some of the foreign countries, they've been training for hours and hours and hours on end. When you first meet the international students, everyone is friendly, but when they find out you're competing against them in the same category, they get this fire in their eyes. They want to win."
[Image Source: Certiport/YouTube]
The Excel segment of the competition hadn’t been won by an American for 16 years. Aaron Osmond, the general manager of Certiport, the American Fork, a Utah-based company that runs the competition, said the Excel category was usually won by students from countries who have a more math focussed education than US.
He went on to congratulate Dumoulin’s victory, saying "It's a huge accomplishment." Certiport contracts with Microsoft to provide certification testing and educational materials for the Microsoft software range. These materials are used to deliver training to high school and college-age students, taking IT classes as part of their curriculum. The competition is limited to competitors aged between 13-22.
Osmond suggests the certifications can be useful for students when looking for work as proof of their skill before they have real work experience. He suggested they are far more skilled at the software than most Excel users.
"Most of us in an office think that we know how to use Excel. These kids really know," he said.
Dumoulin, who is a passionate baseball player, likes to use Excel to measure stats and look for patterns in baseball games. He once did a spreadsheet-aided school presentation on how ballparks' field dimensions affect players' batting averages. Combing baseball and Excel would be a dream career for the high school student who says he’d like to apply his passions in a business setting. Working for his favorite baseball team as part of the data analytics team would be a “dream career for me” he said.