Locally Sourced – Gathering talent close to home
21 March, 2018
Taking hands-on learning to heart, co-op student Alex Galka – who is currently finishing up his Computer Programmer/Analyst program at Conestoga College – believes that when it comes to developing his skill set, he is much better off coming to work and putting in hours than hitting the books, “I have learned so much more from my time in co-op than in the classroom, not to say the classroom didn’t give me the base knowledge in my field, but there’s nothing to compare to actually getting to do what you learn.”
Alex is not alone in this observation. With co-op program enrollment increasing by 25% in recent years, students are now looking for ways to gain that all too important year of experience before graduating from their respective programs.
The students have it right too, as 2018 brings about one of the most “ridiculously strong” job reports in recent memory, finding a job has become less of a competition for the position itself, and more of a competition for the ideal position. Instead, students are taking into careful consideration how their time is spent during co-op work terms and how it will shape their overall educational experience.
Alex agreed that this was his most important factor when searching for and choosing a co-op position. He explained that “I wanted something that would grow my current skill set and allow me to accomplish projects that I would not normally experience, and also was close to home.” After sifting through the positions offered by his school, Alex, a local resident, wound up working for the company whose software he used to find the position! Alex began as a Co-op Software Developer at Orbis, and took the position on with enthusiasm and passion, eventually securing a permanent position with the company.
When asked why he kept returning to the same position for his 3 back-to-back co-op terms, Alex pointed to the fact that “working for a small business lets you try new things and stretch out your abilities. I know from hearing other classmate’s experiences that when you are somewhere where you can talk to everyone directly, and voice your questions and suggestions openly, you get way more out of your time there than just troubleshooting or being the only tech person on the team.”
Company culture is a key part of what Alex enjoys. Getting to knowing everyone you work with and building strong working relationships with your team is what drew him back to the position, and pushed him to accept the job offer he received at the end of his co-op terms. The face-to-face aspect of interacting with colleagues, direct management and upper management fostered a feeling of community and gave him the incentive to push forward on bigger projects and more difficult tasks.
As businesses are looking for the newest and most innovative minds, they also need to consider how they want their co-op students to benefit from the position. Employee satisfaction and an open-door-policy company culture creates a base that any organization can to grow from, and that is the point that Alex wrapped up our conversation with, “I really think the teamwork aspect of Orbis and my position here has been one of the most beneficial things for me.”
Through acquiring a position that provided a challenge, working hard, and gaining a skill set that will stay with him long after he completes his program, Alex solidified the idea that locally sourced talent can benefit both the employee and the business. By choosing to take a co-op stream program, Alex was able to excel in his field by being included in the narrative of his future and allowed him to secure a permanent position with Orbis prior to graduation. Alex’s story is one of many, and serves as proof that when given the chance students can reach their full potential when their talent is utilized through an inclusive work environment and involvement in their educational pathway.
SINCERELY – ORBIS TEAM