In addition to writing code like every other student I also held a role in this team as co-leader. As leader I was responsible for planning team meetings, delegating daily tasks, and managing conflicts between team members while remaining sensitive to the diversity of skill levels within the group. It was primarily my job to interact with our client in meetings and motivate our large team of 16 students towards the client’s vision. Over the course of the semester we had to identify and solve many problems. More than half of our team had never used PHP and only one member of our team had used the Laravel framework so it was a challenge to enforce internal coding standards within the group and I sometimes had to coach students to keep the project on track.
The Digital Media and IT program at NAIT has two first-year courses, Database Fundamentals and Programming Fundamentals, where almost half of the students either receive D’s, F’s, or withdraw from the course. The Supplemental Learning Leader program takes students with high grades and hires them to re-take those courses alongside other students with the intent of providing in-class support and extracurricular group study sessions. As a leader I encouraged students to start small personal projects that they could make contributions to throughout the semester. I provided fun examples of simple games like hangman and tic-tac-toe or even console apps that could generate practice quizzes based on user input and Bloom’s Taxonomy of Knowledge.
3-Day Startup events are hosted by NAIT New Ventures each semester. The 3-Day Startup program is a crash course in Lean Canvas, customer discovery, pitching, and prototyping that aims to get the first three months of an idea’s development done in three days. The program allowed me the opportunity to work closely with local mentors and was a very eye-opening experience into the world of entrepreneurial start-ups.
Flash in the Can was a conference for Flash designers and developers. It was an eclectic mix of artists and hard-core programmers that inspired me to continue building on my HTML and CSS and start learning to actually program. After attending this conference, I ran right out and bought Essential Actionscript 3.0 by Colin Moock and began my path towards becoming a programmer.
Lookout Observers spend up to 198 consecutive days a year alone at remote lookout towers throughout the province of Alberta. Our main directive is to safely detect and locate wildfires as early as possible to allow firefighters to respond before a fire has a chance to spread. The job requires a strong sense of personal discipline and independence. Because of the remote location clear communication and safety-consciousness were vital personality traits for recruits. Dealing with the public and the occasional black bear kept me on my toes during evening hikes. For most of my time at the tower I pursued computer programming, first as a hobby, and then more seriously once I enrolled at NAIT. 11 hour days alone in the tower gave me plenty of time to work on my skills using O’Reilly books, downloaded tutorials, and class notes as reference. I often had no internet connection so relying on sites like StackOverflow wasn’t an option.
Tow Truck Operators have to be really creative problem solvers. Often times the vehicles I towed would be in very rough shape and unable to roll so I would have to use a variety of tools and equipment to remedy this situation. The job also relied heavily on customer service skills with some of the most distraught customers you can imagine, but I truly enjoyed their company in the cab of my truck and took pride in the customers that went home with a smile on their face.
I was responsible for designing internal communications and product catalogs for this distributor of industrial parts. It was at this job that I realized graphic design was less satisfying than the problem-solving I got to do while coding.
This job was a short-term position at a small publisher that printed newspapers for three towns in the area of Kyneton, Australia. I was able to work for them under the Working Holiday Visa program and greatly enjoyed spending my day at my desk churning out ad after ad.
I taught a short 5-day illustration module that focused on anatomy, repetitive drawing drills, and planning strong workflows. I enjoyed the public speaking and provided excellent criticism by always having one or two suggestions for improvement before pointing out any issues with their work. It is important to understand the feelings of others and be sensitive to their personal level of ability before offering criticism that may otherwise be overwhelming and unhelpful.
I was directly responsible for managing a groups of volunteers ages 17 – 21 around the clock for three months at a time. The groups ranged in sizes from 9 members to 11 members. I worked closely with community partners who provided volunteer jobs for our youths. I also worked with various resource people from the community to help deliver an educational program to the volunteers. This was an incredibly challenging job that taught me a great deal of resourcefulness and is where I got most of my leadership experience. I spent a large amount of time in my office working on weekly field reports, writing disciplinary contract for volunteers (rebellious teenagers are rebellious), updating my coordinator on the health statuses of my volunteers, chairing meetings with community leaders, negotiating live-in billets for immersive portions of the program, reviewing and editing excursion plans, and balancing six different budgets.
Kidtropolis was an educational play facility in West Edmonton Mall that focused on career exploration through role-playing with children ages 5 – 12. As Education Coordinator it was my job to book and plan field trips for classes of students and we always strived to match our programming with the curriculum that the students were learning in the classroom. As a startup business Kidtropolis was an incredibly exciting environment to work in. My favourite day of work was the day I was tasked with finding either a helicopter or a tank for the children to play with. Instead I found us a small Cessna airplane for free. I loved using my creativity every single day at this job.
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