Thursday, December 16, 2010

Co-op student shines at government agency

Tim Jensen, a Douglas Co-op student, developed an online room
booking system for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
When Tim Jensen began his Co-op training at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Douglas College Computer Science student had no idea he would change the way the office operated and make life easier for the staff.

As a second-year student learning the latest in computer technology, Tim was surprised to discover the government agency was still using a paper system for signing out resources and booking meeting rooms.

“It was kind of a bulky procedure,” Tim explains, “because they were making me run between departments to make sure that a room was free for this time, or whatever.”

Tim suggested to his supervisor, Jeff Lang, that he create an online system that would eliminate the problem of double-booking.

Jeff loved the idea.

“Tim’s a star,” Jeff says. “He took the initiative to create something to make our lives easier. Quite often with students they don’t have the experience or the wherewithal to take that initiative – they wait for direction – but Tim saw a need and created a solution.”

Tim is in his third month as a Co-op student with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Co-ops integrate academic studies with work experience. After completing the first half of a diploma or university transfer program, co-op students alternate semesters of classroom studies with semesters of paid, full-time employment.

“I’m very happy with the Co-op program,” says Tim. “I’m getting paid to get education. There’s nothing better than that.”

Tim and Jeff agree that co-ops are a win-win situation for both students and employers.

“This is a real opportunity for me to practise my skills and practise a development routine, which is very important to my education,” Tim says. “The most valuable thing here has been the examples of workers in the same field as me and the ability to get some hands-on training.”

“The value is that students are able to get the experience employers are looking for,” says Jeff, “so that they have an extra leg up on the competition. Having that experience from the Co-op program will help differentiate you from other recent graduates.”

When asked if he would hire Tim – if a position came up –  once he graduates, Jeff doesn’t hesitate in his reply.

“Yes, absolutely. In a heartbeat.”