Grads hiring grads

At 16, Fergus Raphael (Communication Arts – Broadcast Journalism ’03) was operating a TV station in Shaunavon, Sask. Sure, he ran it off his computer over a blank channel (don’t ask how), and slightly fewer than 2,000 souls could pick it up, but hey, it was still a TV channel.

One of the features he offered viewers was “Yesterday’s Weather,” an admittedly useless feature that won him a lot of smiles. But it’s his forward thinking, now, that pays the bills. And while Raphael, owner of Tangle Media in Lethbridge, taught himself the world of multimedia, he understands the value of hiring Lethbridge College grads, people he can turn his back on and know he’ll get work he can trust.

Fergus Raphael has taken on six practicum students from the Computer Information Technology program since he opened Tangle six years ago, hiring three of them as soon as they graduated.

“I serve on the program’s advisory committee and work closely with the instructors, so I know the students learn a lot more at Lethbridge College,” says Raphael. “They know how to make it work, and they bring their ideas and a disciplined approach. It gives me confidence when I’m hiring employees to know what they’re learning.”

Raphael uses the practicums as his version of employer window-shopping.

“It’s a bit like ‘try before you buy,’” he says. “In the 200 hours you have with a student, they’ll either be training and everything is working or they’re not. It saves us thousands of dollars in training. When I hire a Lethbridge College grad, I can give them a key to the front door knowing they’ll show up Monday morning. The timing works well for us, too. They come to us in the spring and they’re looking for work in the summer.”

The CIT 2+2 transfer agreement (two years at Lethbridge College followed by two in the University of Lethbridge’s bachelor of computer science degree) is attractive to students, says Raphael, and works for him as an employer. Students who start at Tangle after the first two years are more committed to the Lethbridge market and will stay longer. He’ll work around their class schedules, knowing he’s got employees who have learned, and are learning, from top-shelf instructors.

“I’d be a fool to begrudge them that,” he says.

The type of career Tangle offers, says Raphael, attracts a lot of applicants who think they have the required skills; Lethbridge College CIT grads can live up to the hype.

“The work is mostly unsupervised because I can’t look at it and verify it actually works until it’s finished,” he says. “The program’s grads have already indicated a deep appreciation of what they do. They’re thoughtful, innovative, committed and able to work by themselves.”

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