March 20, 2017

8th Annual Essay Competition Results (2017)

The Cornell HR Review is very pleased to announce the winners of the 8th Annual Student Essay Competition sponsored by Dell, Shell Oil, and General Electric! Open to all students pursuing a degree in HR or a related discipline, this year’s competition challenged students to respond to one of three prompts, which addressed such topics as the concept of growth mindset, non demographic forms of diversity, and the usage of social networks to inform and supplement hiring decisions. Prizes for the competition include $1000 for first place, and $500 for second place.

Submissions spanned 9 universities and a blind review process narrowed down the pool of entries to the competition’s top four. Winners were selected according to the combined scores of an independent panel of judges from sponsors: Dell,  General Electric, Shell Oil as well as Cornell University’s ILR School.

Students from the Ohio State University and the University of Illinois submitted winning essays, with Min(Susan) Xiang (Ohio State University) garnering the first place for his essay, Building Employees’ Growth Mindset to Improve Business Result. Judges all agreed that this essay has real world application. Second place for the competition went to Francesca Brumm (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) who looks at the promises and pitfalls of social screening.

This year’s competition had an outstanding pool of submissions covering all three prompts and CHRR would like to thank all of the individuals that took the time to participate. The winning entries will be published in CHRR in the coming months, and details regarding the next annual essay competition will be announced in early 2018.


  1. In recent years, Silicon Valley tech companies have embraced Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset concept. Some researchers suggest there are both trait and state elements to the growth mindset. In other words, some people are innately more prone to having a growth mindset over others. Evaluate the business benefits of a growth mindset, and describe some ways organizations can encourage an employee’s mindset through environmental cues (e.g. how we reward, how we structure teams).
  1. Today in HR, there is a heavy emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. However, these initiatives largely focus on demographic forms of diversity, such as race and gender. Given the tension between societal values and recent political changes, companies face a quandary on how to handle non-demographic forms of diversity, which may include political beliefs and personal worldviews. Considering this tension, what D&I strategies can companies implement to encourage non-demographic forms of diversity while maintaining workplace harmony?
  1. Per a 2016 Career Builder Survey, 60 percent of employers now turn to social networks to research job applicants, up from just 11 percent in 2006. What are some associated benefits or risks of using social networks to inform and supplement hiring decisions?

1st Place: Min(Susan) Xiang (Ohio State University)
2nd Place: Francesca Brumm (University of Illinois)

Special Thanks to our Sponsors
General Electric