A story of opportunity at the Imagine Cup

There are great opportunities to be had at the Imagine Cup; when I went to the UK finals of last year’s competition, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of job prospects. I was a first-year undergraduate in Robotics with no placement year, and all of the companies attending the careers fair to accompany the event were looking for final year graduates or students to spend their placement years with them - except one.


Andy McLoughlin is the co-founder of Huddle, a technology start-up that’s only 2 years old and already making a huge impact in the world of collaborative project management. Huddle is a Microsoft Global Emerging Technology Partner, and big clients already include MasterCard, John Lewis, Boots, O2 and UNICEF. Andy was at the Imagine Cup to do a presentation to the teams that had reached that stage about starting their own company and what it’s like in the world of enterprise, and had suggested during his presentation that Huddle were looking for interns over the summer. I talked to him afterwards, kept in touch, and on July 21st I made my way to Huddle’s brand new offices in Bermondsey St, London for my first day as the Huddle Intern.

So what did I get up to? There’s far too much to list here, but I had responsibilities including mounting, installing, configuring and running Windows servers (something I’d never done before) and working on the Linux servers and PHP applications. I also regression tested the site’s API and Facebook application, which included writing and automating the test plans for both. Finally, I designed, developed and released Huddle Desktop, an open source downloadable application which enhanced users’ interaction with the site (you can check out my work at http://www.huddle.net/developers/huddle-desktop).

Working at Huddle was an amazing experience for me, and I can see why placement years are such an attractive prospect now! The entire team were great to work with, and I learnt so much about a really wide range of things while I was there.

It just goes to show what can happen if you seize the opportunities you’re given – I only entered the Imagine Cup because one of the Student Partners at University was asking me what I thought about the competition and commented that an idea I had stood a good chance of doing well. From that I got experience designing, developing and marketing a product; training from Microsoft on presentation and development skills; a great trip to London for the UK finals, and of course my summer at Huddle. The Imagine Cup is a really good way to get involved with Microsoft products, and not only does it look awesome on your CV, but you get a huge wealth of knowledge and experience and have lots of fun in the process!