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Education? Check. Practical experience? Check. LinkedIn profile?
Okanagan College Co-op Employment Co-ordinator Tanya Tarlit is encouraging students and job seekers to set the right tone with their online presence, as employers shift from reviewing just resumes to combing the internet for candidate information.
“LinkedIn is an easy way for employers to take a quick snapshot of you,” Tarlit explains. “Once they have your resume, they will search for you on LinkedIn to see if you have additional experience or, even better, recommendations on your page endorsing you for specific skills.”
Tarlit is one of several job-search experts scheduled to present on Nov. 4 during the 37th annual Career Fair, the yearly open house for current Okanagan College students to meet employers and gain important skills to make informed decisions about the future.
Her presentation will offer tips and tricks for creating an all-star LinkedIn profile, including pitfalls to avoid. “Make sure your profile is filled out, that you have done all the areas that need to be completed. If someone has a sparse profile, it can lead to questions about whether you have the experience listed on your resume,” she says.
“You need to make sure your picture is professional, and it is just you in the photo. Employers can’t tell you from a group of people.”
As a bonus, students who attend the workshops can have professional headshots taken before or after the presentation for free to add extra polish to your new LinkedIn profile. Photos will be first-come, first-served between 12-1 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. in the E Building 2nd floor lobby (outside E202).
According to B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook, the Thompson-Okanagan region will need 91,190 workers for new and replacement positions in the next 10 years, with over 16,000 required for the health-care sector between hospitals, nursing, residential care facilities and ambulatory health-care services. The Okanagan occupations with the largest number of job openings will be nurse assistants (2,800) and registered nurses/psychiatric nurses (2,320).
Those considering careers in health care would do well to start building online profiles. “LinkedIn is used in certain disciplines more than others. When I attend the Interior Health Authority’s information sessions, LinkedIn is one of the go-to’s that recruiters use when considering applicants,” she adds.
Career Fair gives students a chance to connect with employers and get an inkling about their direction, plus get set up for success with a series of valuable job-search workshops:
Admission and parking are free. The fair and sessions will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Centre for Learning (E Building) at the Kelowna campus, 1000 KLO Rd.
For details, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/careerfair.
Professional figure skater Nina Greschner arrived at Okanagan College last fall and traded in her skates for headphones and a mixing board as she stepped into a new career and launched a cutting-edge business focused on helping other athletes achieve their best.
Greschner has been immersed in the figure skating world for more than 30 years. She got her start at age four and was competitive for many years until she transformed her skills into a long-time career travelling abroad with Disney On Ice. After completing more than a decade with Disney, Greschner moved to coaching.
“One of the coach’s responsibilities is the music, which sets the tone for the performance,” explains Greschner. “Finding the right piece of music is no easy feat and I thought to myself, ‘why not create my own?’”
Armed with an original business idea in mind to produce custom music for athletes’ performances, Greschner enrolled in the College’s Audio Engineering and Music Production (AEMP) certificate course to get the necessary training to make her business idea happen.
“I envisioned a niche business helping coaches and choreographers eliminate the problem solving of music and focus their attention on the creation of the performance,” explains Greschner. “I knew I needed a better technical understanding of music editing and how to achieve the perfect tone and energy.”
Greschner experienced first-hand the benefits of small class sizes as she not only worked through the program with her instructors, they even took time to help her flush out her business, Composed Music Services, which she successfully launched in her hometown of Revelstoke this fall.
“One of the really unique things about the AEMP certificate was the wide array of students, each who had something different they wanted to do with their education,” she explained. “You’ve got this one educational program that is appealing to DJs, musicians, stage production workers and business owners – it was really neat to hear everyone’s plans.”
The AEMP program offers students hands-on education and prepares them for a rewarding career in the Music Production industry.
“This program gives students the unique experience of industry opportunities, hands-on training and a network of alumni who love what they do,” says Corey Bell, who has been the lead instructor of the program at Okanagan College since 2012. “It is focused on a learner-centered approach and I work with each student to help them identify and meet their goals within the training.”
The next intake of the AEMP certificate program begins Jan. 7 and those interested can attend an information session coming up at the Kelowna campus on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in Room A138. Attendees will have a chance to check out equipment, software and other demos and talk with instructors, students and graduates of the program. To find out more information, visit okanagan.bc.ca/aemp or call 250-862-5480.
Sixteen year old Vernon Secondary School student Nemo Des Mazes says she prefers working with her hands and building things rather than sitting in a classroom.
When the chance came to take part in the Youth Trades Explorer Sampler at Okanagan College, she eagerly signed up. The program gives high school students an opportunity to discover the trades as a career with hands-on technical training in six fields including plumbing, carpentry and electrical.
The innovative program, a partnership between School District 22 and the College, is not only attracting students, it’s also garnered the interest and support of a local employer.
Tolko Industries has donated $11,000 plus in-kind support toward the training at Okanagan College.
“We are passionate about youth and this fits with our long-term strategy to build our workforce and our communities,” says Tanya Wick, Tolko’s Vice President, People and Services.
“This program is helping young people gain the skills and experience that can help set them up for success.”
While this year’s student cohort is only in their second week of trades training, they’ve already progressed from building a deck chair to picnic tables. The lumber for their projects was also donated from Tolko’s Armstrong mill.
“It’s always very meaningful for us at the College to see an employer in the region invest in the training of our students,” says Teresa Kisilevich, Okanagan College’s Associate Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.
“Students see that local businesses want them to succeed.”
Both School District 22 and Okanagan College are interested in elevating trades training as a career choice for students earlier on in their education.
The program can be a game changer for students who aren’t always successful in academics by empowering them to dive and explore a variety of trades at a full-time level for 10 weeks, according to Joe Rogers, Superintendent of Schools at School District 22.
“This gives kids an opportunity to go towards their passion. If you put a kid where they are happy they will do good work,” says Rogers.
“It’s also a win-win for our community as there is a shortage of trades workers.”
Patrick Kenny, who is participating in the current program says he’s always known that he’s wanted to get into the trades.
“I am really liking the program, and the College is welcoming,” he says.
In addition to lumber, Tolko is exploring how else it can support the Youth Trades Sampler program, including having the students take a tour of their Armstrong mill.
The students are working in Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Centre, which opened in August. The $6.2-million, 1,250 square-metre (13,450 square-foot) facility can accommodate approximately 150 students per year and features a dedicated welding shop and multi-use spaces in which the College can deliver training in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing and pipefitting, along with specialized training like the Youth Trades Sampler.
With the pressure on FortisBC natural gas customers to reduce consumption because of the pipeline explosion in Prince George this week, Okanagan College energy managers are inspired to continue to explore new ways to reduce reliance on the energy source.
Fortis has not reached out to the College to ask it to reduce consumption and that comes as little surprise.
“We use very little gas at this time of year,” explains Rob St. Onge, Okanagan College’s energy manager. “The reason for that is because of the energy reduction and conservation initiatives we have taken over the past years. We’d still counsel our staff and students to think about how they might be able to reduce their gas consumption in light of the circumstances in Prince George.”
St. Onge, and Peter Csandl, manager of plant services and operations, point to recent construction projects as part of the reason. “Many of our buildings use no gas or very little gas due to recent energy upgrades or alternative forms of heat,” explains St. Onge. “All of our boilers on all campuses have been upgraded to high efficiency condensing boilers which use much less gas. Interestingly, Fortis rebates helped fund these projects.”
“Our newer buildings also use exhaust air heat recovery which dramatically reduces heating requirements,” says Csandl. “That’s in place in the Centre of Excellence in Penticton, the Centre for Learning and the Trades Complex in Kelowna, and the Child Care Centre in Penticton.”
A significant portion of the College’s largest campus – Kelowna – relies on an innovative heat-recovery system (drawing from the nearby City of Kelowna waste water treatment plant) for heat – that doesn’t require natural gas for much of the year.
“Over the past many years, our goal has been to reduce our carbon footprint, and we’ve certainly done that,” says St. Onge. He points to data that shows while the College’s physical footprint has grown 38.8 per cent since 2008, the overall natural gas consumption has decreased 32.2 per cent. On a per square metre basis, that means consumption of natural gas has dropped by more than half – 51.7 per cent – in a decade. (Electrical consumption, incidentally, dropped by 19 per cent per square metre in the same time period.)
“We are focused on conservation and energy savings as part of our commitment to sustainability,” explains Csandl, “And we will continue to look at ways that we can do that and incorporate the greenest possible building and renovation techniques to help move us toward a carbon-zero environment.”
It is not quite a house call, but Oliver residents will find health care training is being offered very close to home.
A special intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled to be held in February that will give students in the South Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.
“The South Okanagan is desperate for health care assistants. That need exists across the province, but there is a significant demand within health-care facilities and homes in this part of the region,” says Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College.
The College received $89,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Oliver, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Osoyoos, Okanagan Falls and Keremeos.
According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.
“Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” says Kraft. "Most importantly, health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in care."
An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at Southern Okanagan Secondary School, 6140 Gala St. in Oliver. The six-month intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting on Feb. 4, 2019, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.
Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-492-4305, ext. 3203 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.
“Please, sir, I want some more…time” may be the refrain heard from Grade 11, 12 and OC students across the valley at the upcoming 9th Annual 3-Hour Short Story Contest at Okanagan College.
Aspiring authors looking for a challenge will need to make careful use of the 180 minutes they’ll be given to craft a compelling original short story at the contest, which is held on Oct. 13 from 1 – 4 p.m. at each of the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm.
The clock won’t be the only obstacle during the competition. Students will also be required to work a mystery phrase into their story, revealed at the start of the contest. Participants in previous years had to incorporate phrases such as “frozen fish sticks,” “downy mustache,” “soggy bread” and “under the weather” into their story.
“The clock forces writers to not second guess themselves and trust their instincts while writing. Quite often they’ll produce a surprising result that undoubtedly helps to advance their artistic development and style,” says Dr. Sean Johnston, contest organizer and an English Professor at the College. “The pressure is liberating and I think that is why we see budding authors of all ages and levels enter the contest.”
Writers will be competing for funds they can apply toward tuition. A judging panel made up of members of the College’s English department will review stories and select four winners, one from each region. Each winner will receive a $250 tuition credit and an overall grand prize winner will take home an additional $500 tuition credit and have their story published in a limited fine-press edition by the Kalamalka Press – the College’s printing press located at the Vernon campus.
7,200 seconds and 919 words was all it took for last year’s winner, Hannah Stanley, to take home the top prize of $750 for her original story “The Best Years of Our Lives.”
“I woke up in the morning feeling very uninspired and I went into the contest without any prior story ideas or anything worked out in my head in advance,” says Stanley, a recent OC Associate of Arts graduate. “It wasn’t until the clock started and I heard the mystery phrase that I found inspiration and knew what I was going to write about.”
The contest is free to enter and registration is open until midnight on Friday, Oct. 12. For more details, contest rules and to register, please visit Okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting.
Learning about your future options could pay off, quite literally, at Okanagan College.
The College is hosting a variety of open houses and information nights in the coming month for potential students and parents to explore the possibilities for post-secondary.
For students considering an academic, apprenticeship or vocational program at Okanagan College, there is extra incentive to stop in: anyone who attends these on-campus sessions can be entered into a draw for a $5,000 tuition voucher.
Student Braeden Lambert was the Tuition Giveaway winner in 2017 after spending the day at an open house last year while researching the College’s Bachelor of Business degree program.
“It totally took me by surprise when I got the phone call telling me I won the tuition money – I felt like I won the lottery or something,” says Lambert. “It’s given me the freedom of time to focus on studying, and I can use that money on courses in the summer to get that extra foot in the door for the coming year.”
Anyone who takes an official tour, attends a recruitment event or connects with a recruitment team member will receive an entry to the contest. The winner will be chosen on May 16, 2019, and they will receive a voucher covering fall and winter semester tuition fees up to $5,000.
“Students interested in post-secondary options tend to explore programs, chat with recruiters and advisors to have questions answered, and tour classrooms. Our information nights and open houses offer all of this, in addition to the opportunity to connect with College instructors,” says Inga Wheeler, Associate Registrar. “The entry for the Tuition Giveaway is icing on the cake.”
Conditions apply for the Tuition Giveaway draw, and are available online: okanagan.bc.ca/tuitiongiveaway.
For details about information nights and open houses, read below for the campus closest to you:
The annual Information Night is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence (PC 113), Penticton campus, 583 Duncan Ave. West. Students and parents can learn the top 15 points they should know before starting post-secondary at the Freshman 15 Seminar. Topics will include terminology, accessing scholarships and bursaries, applying for student loans, the application process, and important student services. The seminar begins at 5 p.m. in the Ashnola Building Lecture Theatre (PL 107). For details, visit the event page.
Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Liana Swedahl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-492-4305, ext. 3205.
The Salmon Arm Campus Open House runs Thursday, Nov. 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 2552 10th Ave. NE, beside the Shaw Centre. For details, visit the event page.
Open house activities include:
“Learners of all ages are welcome to stop by the open house and investigate their options, whether they are considering returning to studies or thinking about upgrading. There is a lot happening at the Salmon Arm campus, and the doors are open for the community to explore educational opportunities,” says Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean Shuswap-Revelstoke.
Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Kristine Wickner at email@example.com or 250-832-2126, ext. 8259.
The Program Open House and Spotlight Sessions at the Vernon campus is set for Monday, Oct. 29, running from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Kal View Café of the Vernon campus, 7000 College Way. Spotlight Sessions include:
Anyone who applies during the Open House will have application fees waived.
An additional Vernon event offers a second opportunity to enter. Freshman 15 Seminar will be held Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre (D310), walking students and parents through the top 15 points they should know before starting post-secondary. Topics will include terminology, accessing scholarships and bursaries, applying for student loans, the application process, and important student services. For details, visit the event page.
Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Tawnya Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-545-7291, ext. 2309.
The College’s 37th annual Career Fair is set for Nov. 4 at the Kelowna campus, offering high school and post-secondary students the opportunity to explore potential career paths and connect with employers.
Career Fair is one of the Interior’s longest-running fairs that attracts hundreds of prospective students every year. Attendees are treated to post-secondary preparatory seminars, tours, activities, program information and draw prizes.
The fair runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kelowna campus, 1000 KLO Rd. Students and parents can learn the top 15 points they should know before starting post-secondary at the Freshman 15 Seminar in the S104 Lecture Theatre at 1 p.m. Topics will include terminology, accessing scholarships and bursaries, applying for student loans, the application process, and important student services. For details, visit the event page.
Admission and parking are free for Career Fair. Those who cannot attend are welcome to book a campus tour or become a student for the day. For information or questions, contact Blake Edwards at email@example.com or 250-762-5445, ext. 4469.
Courtesy of a six-month Okanagan College training program in a field few people think much about, Clint Price has a full-time construction career.
Price finished his Residential Insulator program recently after 15 weeks in the classroom learning theory and safety related to insulation and then an additional 10 weeks in work placements with local employers.
The booming insulation industry, coupled with consumer interest in reducing environmental impact, has created a significant need for skilled workers. Okanagan College, in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Work BC, and local industry leaders, has brought a new program on board to help meet industry demand and prepare skilled workers.
The 25-week Residential Insulator program provides tuition-free specialized training for eligible applicants with funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The program develops practical skills and provides safety certifications in the first 15 weeks of classroom instruction. The remaining 10 weeks are spent in work placements with local employers providing valuable work-related experience.
The Okanagan construction industry is thriving and evolving, inspiring local developers to push the envelope and build more sustainable spaces. Insulation plays a big, and often overlooked, part in creating energy efficient buildings.
The OC training program proved beneficial for Price, a graduate of the first intake of the Residential Insulator program. “The classroom training allowed me to gain the skills required to commence work in the industry and be a valuable member of an insulation team. My 10 weeks of work placement with Grayhawk Industries has allowed me to apply that knowledge with onsite training and has given me the necessary tools to succeed in my new career path,” says Price. “I am now employed full time in the industry and could not be more grateful for the opportunity to have been involved with this program.”
“The Residential Insulator program was created in response to the local labour market challenges,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “Okanagan College, in conjunction with the Ministry, and with support from local industry, is responding to this need by providing skilled training opportunities through the newly developed Residential Insulator program.”
“With changing building codes, it is important to provide skilled training within the insulation industry to equip these workers with a firm grasp of building science knowledge and the variety of different materials available to them,” says Luke Egely, Residential Insulator program instructor.
“Developing this pilot program has been a joint effort on many fronts,” says Egely. We’ve created a program that covers a broad range of topics to build the knowledge these students need.”
Price, along with other graduates of the first intake of the course, have recently completed their work placements. The training has resulted in several offers of full-time employment.
“This group of students have excelled with their training and are driven to create new careers for themselves,” says Egely. “They are just beginning to see the opportunities this training could open up to them.”
The program has been well-received locally and has received government funding for a second intake, beginning Nov. 26. Egely has also fielded calls from others interested in this type of training from all across Canada and the U.S.
The Residential Insulator program was developed through extensive consultation with local employers, consultants and
suppliers in British Columbia and Alberta. Training takes place at the Okanagan College Trades training facility in Vernon. Find out more at okanagan.bc.ca/insulationinstaller.