Don’t be afraid to give first
Published in the Workplace Connections’ Working Paper, by M.O.S.A.I.C.
(Multi-Lingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities)
CapturePlay has been working with MOSAIC for the past 6 months, generously offering mentoring and internships to newcomer job-seekers in the IT field. All of the interns have thoroughly enjoyed their time at CapturePlay and, with the endorsement of the company, most of them have managed to find full-time employment.
We met with Lucian Savluc to ask about the company’s experience with diversity and newcomer talent.
MOSAIC: What has inspired you to offer to the newcomers this internship program?
Lucian: Ken Gordon (from Skills Connect) invited me at the Vancouver Public Library last year to speak at an event for IT skilled immigrants. The scope was to deliver a technical presentation. Seeing the audience — and remembering my first days here in Canada 9 years ago — I decided to tell them a story instead: how I got the job in my profession here.
The hardest part for newcomers is to get the chance to prove their skills. And I realized that CapturePlay can help while also getting help from newcomers — a win-win situation. We discussed this idea with the board and we agreed the internship program was worth a try.
MOSAIC: What do you see as being the value-added element of diversity in your workplace?
Lucian: Diversity has both challenges and benefits. Challenges are mostly for the newcomers; they have to learn and adapt to a work environment where the rules, communication and customs may be quite different compared with the country they came from. And probably this is the most important part of the internship: they learn how it is to work in a North American high tech company.
We treat our permanent employees and our interns the same. And we demand exactly the same involvement and dedication to them as we ask for our full timers. We are offering exactly what no school here can offer — firsthand experience and training.
We also learn a lot from our interns. We are developing a worldwide platform and we have to learn about the cultural aspects of each area where we promote our product.
MOSAIC: How would you describe a typical day of work for interns?
Lucian: We use an agile approach and the latest project management tools and practices; everything is structured quite well. At the same time, each of us is having a lot of liberty in implementing the tasks and goals. We encourage innovation and initiative and we embrace the "work hard play hard philosophy". We are doing our job very well but we also try to build a fun and pleasant work environment.
A work day is starting in the morning around 10 AM. After we check our correspondence, we have a short scrum meeting where each team member is presenting the tasks finished the day before, the tasks planned for the current day, problems encountered and what we learned. We turn back to our computers and we update our tasks lists in BaseCamp accordingly. After that, we proceed to execute these tasks.
The program is quite flexible, and for the interns is only 6 hours per day. They have a lunch break they can take whenever they want (we are reimbursing the lunch and transportation). If they have a personal problem or not feeling good, they can work from home.
We assume from the beginning that they will do their best for the job and, with a very few exceptions, we were right. At the end of the day, each of us checks the tasks and plans for the next day. We have also weekly team meetings, and monthly company meetings. The interns are part of all these, no difference. And because we wish to build a strong company culture, time to time we have team lunches and company parties of course.
MOSAIC: What feedback have you received from newcomers who completed their internships?
Lucian: Highly positive. I included here a quote from a former intern which reveals some insights:
"I started to work as an intern at Capture Play. Of course, I was afraid, if they would not understand me, or I would not understand them? Can I do my job well? My fears were proven wrong. I was involved in all team’s life. My duties were interesting. Whenever I asked I always received irrefragable answers. If I need help, they always helped me. I have felt myself not as a stranger, but as a competent team member. I took part in biweekly meetings, prepared and presented my reports. I participated in the ad campaigns and playathons, did weekly statistics, and tracked bugs. I enjoyed the tasty BBQ wings at the Summer Party, and petted Saber, the most handsome dog in Vancouver. Thank you guys! You are paying forward!"
Monika S. (After the internship position, she obtained an Application Support Analyst position with ZE PowerGroup).
MOSAIC: What would you say to employers who are still reluctant to employing or offering internships to newcomers?
Lucian: It’s worth it. They only have to prepare it well in advance, to establish the processes, training kits and a team leader. In our case, the most capable from them was picked to assist the team.
There are so many high skilled newcomers here in Canada… why don’t give them a chance to prove it. With minimum resources but with a lot of determination, there is no company that cannot implement such a program.
We are totally open to share our experience with any organization interested in this.
MOSAIC: Any piece of advice for job-seekers?
Lucian: Don’t be afraid to give first (this works on both sides, for job-seekers and for employers).
Show you are good. Be open to learn. Take chances. But be careful when you select your internships/volunteer work. You have to choose the one that is really meaningful to your planned career. Once you are there, put your whole effort and dedication. It will pay off.
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