Information and Communications Technology students at the University College of the Cayman Islands are all set to help out small businesses across Cayman through the ICT Boost internship programme.
‘While there is no replacement for the learning that takes place in the computer lab, nothing is as challenging as a live environment,’ says ICT Manager and course instructor Greg Fiedler.
UCCI’s ICT programme, which runs for about a year, provides a structured learning environment for students preparing for the seven Microsoft exams that lead to a Certified Systems Engineer designation.
‘The great thing about ICT Boost is that students get workplace training, and at the same time the clients have the security of knowing that UCCI stands behind each student doing the work,’ says Mr. Fiedler.
An internship is not a required course component, but, as in other fields, a measure of on-the-job experience is a good thing for new grads to have when they are seeking employment.
The benefit for small businesses is that the need for real-world experience for the ICT students dovetails nicely with an on-island niche for affordably priced IT support.
‘We require that everyone wears their official golf shirt while on the job. It promotes professionalism, and it’s had an impact on the other students who are asking who they are as they walk around the campus,’ says Mr. Fiedler.
And that professionalism also translates into customer relations training and follow-up practices that ensure clients come away with a good experience.
Their youth may mean the students are relatively new to the business world, but they’re not lacking in real hands-on experience.
They were the ones responsible for ushering in a whole new era of computing at UCCI when, under Mr. Fiedler’s supervision, took part in the complete rewiring of the college’s computer network, and installing the Operating Systems on all of the school’s 300 new laptops that now connect to six new servers.
‘Taking part in this programme has helped me realise what I wanted to do – and I’m going to go into this field for sure once I finish my degree,’ says student Joel Porter.
‘The fact that our certification is recognized all over the world means that once we’re done, we can work anywhere, which is really exciting.’
Fellow ICT techie Lascelles Johnson says he enjoys the hands-on technical nature of the programme.
And he recognizes along with his classmates that the technical training paired with a university degree will give him an advantage later on, if he’s interested in a management level job.
His younger classmate Paul Lankford is grateful for the career doors that have been opened to him.
‘Taking this programme helped me to discover what I’m good at and now I’m taking this experience with me through my degree,’ he says.
‘And the troubleshooting aspect of this programme has let me be confident about trying different things to solve problems.’
As the students proceed through the programme, the nominal pay they receive for their internship goes up with their grades, a good incentive to do well.
‘Because it was such a new programme, only four students enrolled in the first session,’ says Mr. Fiedler.
‘But thanks to our visibility and the enthusiasm other students are recognizing, interest is high in the coming session. With only 24 available spots, it might be worth applying early.’
Each course students take can be applied toward an Associates or Bachelor’s degree.