We have never heard of a person who learned Microsoft Excel for fun, and honestly, where is the fun in that? Every time you click on that software, it is for work, and many take extensive courses to know the ins and outs of Excel sheets. A 17-year-old from Northern Virginia used Excel to track statistics of his favorite baseball team Los Angeles Dodgers. What began as a hobby won John Dumoulin an international Excel championship.
In his high school IT class, Dumoulin learned about the Excel competition when he was taking certificate courses in various software programs. Scoring the highest in the Microsoft Excel 16 certification in all of Virginia, John qualified for the national competition being held in Orlando, Florida.
Winning the national competition brought him a prize of $3,000 USD, along with the eligibility to participate in the international competition on a completely free trip. John also snagged the world championship held in Anaheim, California with a prize money of $7,000.
The 17-year-old did not realize the intensity of the competition until he met his foreign competitors. “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,” says Dumoulin.
The students who win in the Excel category generally belong to countries with more math focused education, and an American student has not won one in the last 16 years. Aaron Osmond, the general manager of the Utah based company, Certiport that runs the competition, congratulated Dumoulin saying it was a huge accomplishment.
The competition is limited to students between ages 13 and 22 for which Certiport contracts with Microsoft to obtain certification testing and educational materials for the entire Microsoft software range. These materials are then used to deliver training to both high school and college students. In the perspective of professional life, these certifications are a proof of skill set acquired before actual work experience. As Osmond puts it, “Most of us in an office think that we know how to use Excel. These kids really know.”
Dumoulin is not an Excel software but a passionate baseball player, and using excel to measure the stats and looking for patterns in baseball games is his favorite hobby. John once made a school presentation about the effect of ballpark’s field dimension on the batting average of players and aided it with a spreadsheet. He wishes to combine baseball and excel and apply his passions to a business, which is what he calls the “dream career.”