Work Experience

As someone who has worked with many trainees, work placements and apprenticeships over the years it still surprises’ me the lack of enthusiasm some within the IT community have when it comes to taking someone trying to enter the industry under their wing. Whether it be for a day a week or upto two years when it comes to level 3 apprenticeships.

Everyone of us across the IT field had to start somewhere. Either through self study and getting that initial break in the industry to build upwards and onwards or through the many academic university and college pathways to get that all important ‘piece of paper’ after which they can then learn how it’s actually done for real in everyday industry life with the pressure of time, budget and political constraints which cannot be rein-acted in the classroom.

Speaking from my own observations and conversations with others within the community it seems there is a lack of motivation to firstly attract fresh blood to a point where they are interested in even a one week placement during high school and should that decision to take on a work placement be out of their control and is pushed through by management there seems to be a bigger feeling of it being some kind of punishment. Trying all possible options to avoid having a side-kick for a few days and then once the newly acquired side kick has arrived and management have finished the introductions quickly pointing said ‘side-kick’ in the direction of a task which will keep them quite and out of the way of  ‘mentor’ for the day mindlessly imaging PC after PC with no real input from said ‘mentor’ about what and why they are actually doing.

I myself entered and progressed and plan to continue to develop through a number of pathways, initially through work experience and apprenticeships, permanent full time employment and  more recently through formal university based academic study. All of which have had their benefits and all of which I am glad I have done. However it is the industry exposure which I have had access to which I feel has given me the insight, enthusiasm and determination I have today.

I understand that having an additional body to watch can add to the resources and affect the efficiency of the organisation however I feel we need to look at what not just the individual attending the placement takes away from being on the said placement but also what the organisation and those the individual(s) interacts with can also achieve from the placement.

First of all many businesses can claim for funding from public sector sources to either completely fund or significantly subsidise a work placement.

Secondly it cannot be a bad thing to see what the latest young people to come up through the high school, college and higher academic pathways have to offer. Although many industry professionals try to at least keep pace with the ever changing coal face of the sector these young people are the ones who don’t (like us) have the distraction of day to day working duties to contend with reading the latest white papers, journals and blogs. They almost live and breath this stuff in-between very active social lives. Something they should know to make the most of while they can…..

Personally from my experience having worked with many work placements I have always enjoyed the opportunity to both find out what there interested in and if they don’t have a particular area of interest, working with them to help them on their way to discover it.

It shouldn’t just be a case of introducing ones self to a new placement attendee and then pointing them in the direction of the closest kettle and bacon sandwich provider. I always make a point of finding out what there interested in, developing that and doing my best to be as open and approachable as possible to any questions they may have.

A lot of this stems from my own experience of  ‘work experience’ I feel I had an excellent work experience and worked with not just one person but a group of very dedicated and enthusiastic individuals who made me want to enter into the industry and then develop my specific area of interest.

Perhaps responding to and resolving incidents and problems may take just that big longer and yes there will be times where just diving in to get the job done and leaving the explanations and details until later is required. It’s part of the pressures of the modern day IT and Information industry. But at the very least I think we should be making a effort with tomorrow’s industry professionals as if we get them right now at least the foundations have been laid for when it’s there turn to be mentor.

Plus, I’m not saying we can NEVER send them to fetch the tea and bacon sandwiches….

This entry was written by Zac , posted on Thursday March 29 2012at 05:03 pm , filed under Industry and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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