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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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March 31, 2005
 Top Stories


ICT students showcase their skills
Taking lessons from entrepreneurs

It was described as an opportunity to “build synergy” and it was a natural fit between two groups looking to spin talent and enthusiasm into gold.

Soon-to-be graduates of Memorial’s Diploma in Information and Communications Technologies Program recently met with a number of the high-tech companies being incubated by Memorial’s Genesis Centre. The meeting was organized by ICT instructor Steve Cater and Genesis director Keelin O’Leary.

Mr. Cater and Ms. O’Leary recognized the IT relationship the companies and the students shared.

“It’s a natural fit,” said Mr. Cater, noting that Genesis clients had hired as many as eight programmers recently. He wanted the companies to be aware of the students’ IT skills. He also wanted the students to learn what entrepreneurial, start-ups look for in employees.

The get-together started with a brief overview of Genesis’ services – provided by business analyst, Michelle Simms – followed by Mr. Cater’s overview of the ICT program. Genesis clients in attendance then described their companies and gave the students some idea of what their companies look for in IT support. The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer period and a meet and greet.

In his presentation, Cater stressed the currency of the ICT program’s curriculum. “When the students ask me about a work term placement I tell them they should be thinking about full-time work,” he said. “They’re ready.”

For their part, the company reps stressed the importance of the students having a strong entrepreneurial orientation, a theme echoed by Tom Chalker, president and chief technology officer of Pixecur.

“They have to appreciate the risk the company is dealing with and be willing to accept the fact the company does not have the stability of the large organization. They also have to be willing to take on all kinds of new responsibilities, emerging situations and recognize that in a small company they’ll be asked to do a lot of extra hours when deadlines approach.”

What the company reps were saying resonated with ICT student, Andrea Lawlor.

“I think it’s been very helpful finding out what these small start-up companies are looking for. They’re not Microsoft but Microsoft had to start somewhere and you never know when the next big thing is coming along. It could be from anywhere. And that’s one of the really exciting things about getting in with one of these companies.
“To be able to start with a company and grow with them, personally, that experience, you can’t put a dollar value on that.”
She also was pleased with what she found out about the Genesis centre; “that it’s there and you can go to them and say this is what I want to do and they’ll help you out and provide a support structure.”

When asked if she might be considering something entrepreneurial of her own — as opposed to taking on a job — she said that wasn’t in the cards for her at the moment. But she does think there’s potential for that in her fellow ICT students.

“These are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and if anybody can pull it off, there are definitely a couple of them who could be the next Bill Gates. For sure.”