TRU’s Career & Experiential Learning department organized a bus tour intended to connect science and engineering students with young and innovative technology companies in Kamloops.
25 students were able to see the activity at the Kamloops Innovation Centre followed by the operations at iTel Networks, an internet and telecom service for businesses. Vince Watson, events and marketing, provided some context on the mission of this tour.
“This is the first one that we’ve done. Over the summer our faculty coordinator for IT and computer science had conversations with local employers for them to connect with students,” Watson said. “By helping employers to create a brand on campus as an employer of choice, in turn, will help get students exposure to the Kamloops community at large and showcasing the possibilities as far as career options that exist in Kamloops within the tech sector.”
At each venue, students were divided into smaller groups where they would be able to connect with different local business owners and receive a sense of what it would be like to work for their company, followed by an info session and networking group activities. Beth Quirie, Community Builder at Kamloops Innovation, is eager to engage more students in events like the tech tour.
“It is something we’re infinitely invested in trying to do more of,” she said. “We have so many amazing companies in Kamloops and I think it’s a huge misconception and sad that many students don’t know the possibilities for employment and living in Kamloops after TRU.”
Quirie mentioned that of the five companies that were on the tech tour, four of them are actively looking for co-op opportunities or full-time hires. Sarah Ladd, Co-op Coordinator, Engineering, put into perspective how effective initiatives like the tech tour are for motivating students.
“One of my jobs as a co-op coordinator is to tell students what the industry is like and I talk to hundreds of people every year,” she said. “They don’t want to hear it from me, they want to hear it from the real source; it’s just so much more powerful for students.”
Both Watson and Ladd assure more events like this will be offered in the future for students, if budget allows, possibly offering similar opportunities for students in other faculties.
“The desire is there as students want to participate, we want to participate and employers know TRU is where they’re going to get most of their people from,” said Ladd. “And not just the tech sector, everywhere.”
Due to high demand, some students had to be turned down on attending the bus tour, nevertheless, Watson has considered this experience for future trips.
“We didn’t know how students would react, which is why we kept our numbers low, but moving forward this is definitely something we’ll look at doing and even earlier in the semester,” he said. “We could have easily done two busses of 50 because of the demand but students would have been popping in and we would have had to turn some students away.”