Six new contractors at NZ Defence get along extremely well because they have a lot in common. Before they were hired they were all students in the three-year Information Technology degree at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.
They were hired even before they were awarded their degree, on the strength of the course’s practical project. The realistic project is a unique characteristic of the degree, as it requires students to serve real clients in an off-campus development lab.
And all six have the same thing to say about their new job at Defence - “love it! love it!”
They’d all worked on a project for Defence Department as part of their final year.
New graduate Moana Thompson, 21, says this gave the prospective employer a chance to size up the students, to see how they solved problems and how they worked in a team environment where they needed to be independent, but at the same time know when to ask for help.
“I really enjoyed the whole three year course. Good tutors and good atmosphere. We always had a computer for ourselves, and one-on-one help from the tutors,” says Moana who is Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou and Ngati Awa.
Porirua local June Mata praises the course for providing a good foundation, which served them well when they got to the work force. “I was surprised when I got to the work force to find out I knew as much as I did. I was able to apply it straight away,” says June.
Aran Ratai is a 32 year old father of six young children from Otaki who had a firm reason for enrolling in the course – years of working in the meat works had taken its toll on his body and he needed a career that used his brains more than his brawn. He started at the Whitireia’s campus on the Kapiti Coast, which suited him because it was a friendly family-type atmosphere.
“It was relaxed and made us feel welcome and glad to be there. Other students helped you as much as the tutors,” he said. “The main reason I wanted to go on to do the degree after completing the two-year Diploma in ICT was because of the project. I’d heard so much about it, being a practical real-live project. It meant that our work was real and would be used, not a classroom assignment that would be marked and shelved at the end.”
Blair Roberts of Tawa came to Whitireia after his sixth form year. He always loved playing on computers and thought a career in something to do with computers would suit him. Now that he is 22 it hasn’t changed. After working on computers in the classroom and now in the workforce, he goes home to play computer games to wind down.
“I took the one-year Diploma in ICT course, but then changed to take the degree because I loved it. And now I have a great job. It’s perfect for me and the day goes so fast. It is problem solving and keeps my mind active,” says Blair.
Whitireia also offers a two-year Diploma in ICT, which can be counted towards the three-year Bachelor of IT.