This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Caroline Weilinger, Microsoft Career Factor Idol Winner – The Office Competition Contender.
Caroline is a student at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, enrolled in the Administrative Information Management (AIM) program. The AIM program is a part of the SAIT School of Business and structures its program around general business, computer technology, accounting, event management, and graphic design.
She is in her final semester of the AIM program, and plans on pursuing a career in event management and design. Eventually she would like to combine these professional ambitions with her passion of equestrian show jumping to organize and manage horse shows.
She is the youngest in a family of four, including an older brother Nick, mother Monique, and father Gary. She also has a young Jack Russell Terrier named McDuff and a horse named Quincy 96 ("The Q" for short).
Caroline, thank you for coming in today to share your insights and experiences with the audience.
A: "Thank you for having me; it's a pleasure to be here!"
As a student describe your experiences at SAIT and SAIT programs?
A: "As a student my experiences at SAIT have been nothing but positive. The program I am currently attending (Administrative Information Management) has given me a huge variety of skills that I know will ensure my future success in any career path I choose."
What triggered your interest in Office?
A: "The Administrative Information Management program that I'm taking was really what triggered my interest in the Office Suite. Before the AIM program I surely would not have had the skills I have now that has allowed me to be competitive in this competition."
What was the catalyst in applying for Career Factor?
A: "Career Factor was brought to my attention by my instructors who thought I would be a good candidate. Although I knew it would be a lot of work I knew it would be wrong to turn down such an amazing opportunity."
Can you describe your personal experiences for the challenges and process leading up, winning, and after winning Career Factor?
A: "I can honestly say that the process leading up to the selection of participants was a real whirlwind. The opportunity was brought to my attention only hours before the deadline, I was already late for an equestrian show jumping competition, and I was racing around the school trying to get an audition video, application and essay done in time for the cutoff. In light of all that rushing I didn't think I had a chance in the running of thousands of applicants. Imagine my surprise when I found out a month later that I had been selected!"
How does social media accentuate what you are doing in Career Factor?
A: "I think social media has a huge impact on Career Factor because through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn we are able to communicate with the followers of the show and answer any questions they might have. I think it is also a great way to share recent updates, videos or interesting internet finds that I may come across."
From your experiences with Career Factor, what tips would you provide to those gearing for working with Office?
A: "From my experiences the best way to become acquainted with the Office programs is to play around and explore all of the different functions of the ribbon. There are several different resources available to help you with the exploration of Office whether it is through ribbon hero, online tutorials, textbooks or practice exams."
How will Career Factor support your goal to train, compete, and succeed at the 2011 Certiport Worldwide Competition on Office?
A: "Being a participant on Career Factor has helped open my eyes to all of the resources available to help students of the Microsoft Office Suite learn more of its functions to increase productivity in any field. I hope that I can then pass along the information that I have had the opportunity to acquire."
As an Administrative Information Management student at SAIT, what are your future career aspirations? What are you most passionate about?
A: "With the wide variety of skills that I have acquired from the AIM program it has been difficult to narrow my focus to one career goal. As a student soon to graduate I have been putting a lot of thought into this exact question. As my passion lies with horses it would be my ideal career goal to incorporate the Equestrian industry with the skills I now have. The encouragement I have received from my instructors to pursue a career in event management would allow me to incorporate the horses and start running show jumping competitions."
What drives your passion for Microsoft and Microsoft technology solutions?
A: "What began as a passion to compete in the world wide competition for Microsoft Office has now turned into a realization of all the skills I have obtained in the preparation. I never knew how much I could really accomplish with the Office Suite until I began working with it every day. Each day I am becoming more and more efficient I know that with the knowledge I have obtained I will become a key member of any office in any industry. Also becoming a leader to my peers that strive for the same goals has really been a huge factor in my drive to continue."
How does MS certification fit in your career plans and those of IT and business professionals?
A: "I know that having my MS Specialist or Masters logo on my resume will be a great conversation piece to inform any potential future employer that I will be the go-to person who can answer any MS Office software questions."
What are your tips, lessons, and best resources for those wanting a career in business and yet supported by technology?
A: "The only tip I can think of is that if you are going into a career of business that is supported by technology and communication is to know your product! If you are going into a position that will rely directly on MS Office, know the software inside and out!"
What are your Office Best Practices?
A: "My MS Office Best Practices are using all Office applications correctly for the appropriate situation and to their full potential. For example using Excel when you should be using Access!"
What are your Business Best Practices?
A: "My Business Best Practices would be global awareness and diversity, continuation of learning to ensure an updated skill set, flexibility and adaptability to adjust to a changing workplace."
How will your experiences with Career Factor support your future career plans in event management?
A: "I think that Career Factor has been a great way to get my name out into the world and gain a great talking point on my resumé. The experience I have had on Career Factor has been one of great learning, not only about software and technology but also about what I can personally accomplish. I know that it has been a great confidence builder in what I can not only accomplish for myself, but what I can accomplish for any future career."
In all that you do, what are the biggest challenges, and their solutions?
A: "Time management has been the biggest challenge for me, although now with a broader technology skill set I have been able to use my MS skills to properly schedule my time."
Provide your predictions of future Office and IT trends and their implications/opportunities.
A: "Computers will only advance to become more powerful, enabling people to do more with technology."
What three lessons have you learned from your life experiences?
A: "One lesson I have learned from my life experiences is that career paths can always change. It is so important to me to have a background in business so that if I do change my mind about my career direction I know I will have a solid foundation in education. Second lesson I have learned is to take every good opportunity that is available to you. If you have the time and are offered a once in a lifetime opportunity, TAKE IT! Lastly, I have always been very dedicated to my riding and horses, but now that I am getting older and graduating from college, I now see how important it is for me to spread my wings and discover new things for myself before it’s too late. Career Factor has been one and now to start a new chapter, I need to spread my wings and leave home."
Caroline, we will continue to follow your contributions with Career Factor and more broadly. We thank you for sharing your time, wisdom, and accumulated deep insights with our audience.