My army days are behind me but the work ethic remains: if you see a need, step up to serve it.
It was in that spirit that Norm and I called a contact at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) about a year ago with a possible solution to two problems. We were leading a new tech start-up caught in that classic new business Catch-22: we needed talented people to help drive revenue, but didn’t have the cash flow to hire the talent. That was our problem. UNB’s problem was they had lots of talent, but not enough employers to hire their students.
How about we apply some creative thinking to solve our shared problem?
Through our connection to Start-up Canada we learned about Venture for Canada, a non-profit that provides 16-week paid internships for post-secondary students to select small businesses and start-ups.
Norm called up Venture for Canada, told them we wanted to hire some MBA students for our start-up and rather quickly we became an early adopter of the Venture for Canada program in New Brunswick.
Next up was the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). I am a huge fan of NBCC thanks to the successful internship I helped establish as the Officer Commanding the Canadian Army’s Army Learning Support Centre (ALSC). Calling them to access talented creatives, marketing and technology students was a no-brainer.
However this time around I didn’t have an army-sized budget.
Once again Norm and I went into our professional networks and found eTalent Canada, the Information and Communications Technology Council’s (ICTC) employment program. A few emails and phone calls later we were approved for the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Digital Subsidy, which provides 50 per cent of a student’s salary up to $5,000, or 70 per cent of the student’s salary up to $7,000 if that student is from a group underrepresented in tech, such as women, Indigenous students, newcomers, visible minorities, or first-year students.
The WIL Digital Subsidy dovetailed with our personal and corporate values and with it we have happily welcomed young women, first year students and newcomers to 3D Planeta.
Visit our office in Fredericton and the impact of these funding programs is evident.
We’ve got a staff of 21 that is proudly global and youthful in its make-up and outlook.
For the last few months, we gathered either online or in-person for a daily ‘coffee chat’, where we ask a fun question that reveals a little bit of ourselves to our co-workers and deepens that workplace bond. Inevitably this little exercise in team-building reveals a diversity of experiences and perspectives that I am honoured and proud to be privy to.
Getting here took work, but it’s the type of work we all need to practise if we actually want to achieve what we preach.
Developing a talented labour force isn’t a new problem; having worked in both the public and private sector, I can tell you it has been the topic du jour for decades.
Solving it, as Norm and I have discovered, isn’t complicated if you’re willing to stop talking and actually start doing the work.
To reap the rewards you’ve got to be willing to make that initial investment.
Not of money, but of something far more valuable in the long-run: your time and your attention.
We have a full office of talented young individuals from across New Brunswick and around the world because we invested our time in researching, networking and negotiating creative solutions that provide mutual benefits to us, to students, to post-secondary partners and to program funders.
We saw a need and we stepped up to fill it and we are happy to share and support any of our fellow private sector employers who want to join us.
When we help each other, we all succeed.