Information tech students socialize in real time
Keen first-year Information Technology students flexed their networking muscles during SAIT’s Night with Industry on Oct 13.
The World of Information Technologies invited seven IT specialists from industry to discuss the challenges of getting hired after graduation.
“Generic big cubicles terrify me,” said student Austin Winters.
“I had a big misconception of big corporations in the industry and being here tonight was a way for me to get rid of those.”
Nearly 75 red and white name tags dotted the audience vying to add character and personality to differentiate themselves from the other SAIT students.
“SAIT’s students in IT are really well respected because of the hands on experience that you get,” said Sean Campbell, the product development manager of Canterris Inc.
Beyond traditional education, students were encouraged to differentiate their skills by getting involved with free-software development.
Through small software development projects students are given the opportunity to stay current with industry practices.
“You might lose a lot of sleep but you’re get a lot of industry experience,” said Frank Canuel, a senior customer solutions engineer at Bell Canada.
IT is an industry built on solving problems in new ways. “Technology is so fluid,” said Canuel.
“We’re working in a never-ending classroom with technologies that didn’t exist 10 years ago.”
While strong technical ability is essential in acquiring a position with any IT company, Matthew Chadder, a member of the Telus National IP core team and SAIT grad, urged students to develop their ‘soft skills’.
“You can have the most amazing ideas but if you can’t communicate with the world it doesn’t matter what you know,” said Chadder.
“IT is as much about the tech itself as it is about the people,” said Chadder.
The majority of IT opportunities are not found through job search engines, rather through industry connections.
Peter Singendonk, the Southern Alberta and Prairies director for systems engineering at Cisco Systems Canada, hired both of his department’s interns without the use of traditional job marketing.
“The majority of the hiring we do comes from word of mouth or Facebook,” said Singendonk.
Student George Chace said the information he gained at the event will be beneficial. “I gained a lot of knowledge as to what I’m going into, and that networking is a big deal,” he said.
Build your network
Job-seeker site workopolis.com recommends these two essential tips for networking:
• Play six degrees of separation: develop a list of target companies you want to work for, and then identify the people who do the hiring.
When you’re talking to the contacts you already have (instructors, friends in the industry, mentors, peers), look for connections to those people. You’ll be surprised to learn that a friend of a friend knows someone you want to speak to about your dream job.
• Connect the dots: Simply follow your existing network wherever it leads. You’ll be surprised to see where it goes.
Whenever a job lead turns up, pursue it immediately and with gusto.