As an IT Professional who has worked in the industry collecting a salary for over 17 years (man I am dating myself) I am psyched to have a job where I have an opportunity to connect with students who have already made a commitment to train and work within IT or are on the fence and contemplating "jumping in". By connect - I mean start a dialogue with them - listening to what they have to say and answering questions they might have on almost any topic they want to talk about.
One of the things my team wanted to do this year was start to engage with the academic community a bit more - like our Developer advisor team mates do. Planning started a while ago on which colleges and universities we had prior relationships with and we reached out to the Deans of IT and the ACCC to see if they were interested in having us stop in while we were on the road and talk with their faculty and students when we are in town. We don't necessarily talk about "product" - we're talking about working in the ICT industry, what they can do to better prepare for entering the workforce and trying to dispel any myths that might have been engrained in their minds about working in IT. Oh yeah - we leave as much time as possible for questions during the short time we have, but at the end, there are always people who want to talk further or get contact information shared out. Once in a while there's even an interest to go out and connect in a more informal setting (coffee / pizza / pints) later to continue the conversation.
I was approached by Algonquin College to talk with students in March as part of a discussion panel on the ICT community. It happened to be taking place the day after I returned from the Vancouver Launch stop - I was beat, but jumped at the chance to connect with over 100 students and faculty. As a result of the short talk I ended up re-connecting with Richard - one of the CS Professors who I met last time I was there and continue to interact with in the online community.
Richard followed up with me the following week to see if I was available for an informal chat - I suggested we meet up at a local establishment (the Clocktower Pub) which hosts a lot of "tech" meetups, *camps / after *camps. Hey - it was St. Patricks day - I couldn't resist. 🙂
It was great! I got to meet some members of the first class of students about to graduate from Algonquin's Computer Systems Technology program (an additional year of study on top of their two year Computer Systems Technician Diploma program.) Cool program - gets them additional skills around IT Project Management, how to run a small business, wired and wireless network setup, security analysis to name a few - plus the opportunity to double up on "General Education electives" in the fields of personal and social development or cultural understanding.
I want to shout out to Gemen, Chris, Harri, Drew, Dave and Scott - Awesome meeting with you. Study up for those finals, eh? I'll connect back up with you a little later when things settle down!
I love going out to talk with Students. I believe as an IT Pro and working in the ICT field - it's one way I can help out the industry as well as excite people coming into the biz. Heck - maybe we should start talking in HighSchools - BEFORE people make up their mind to get into a program.... hummm....
I'm scheduled to connect with students at the HEC in Montreal on the 7th and NSCC in Halifax on the 16th. Are you interested in having one of us come out to your college or University to chat? Drop us an email with the EMAIL button at the top to connect up and see what's possible!