I’m not who you think I am.
Sure you can check me out on LinkedIn and see I’m a software engineer at 3D Planeta, and if you asked, I’d tell you I spend most of my day building out our NAVEC SAAS product, or working with Epic Games’ Unreal platform.
You might think I’m your typical tech guy, head down, coding, but that’s not where my focus lies. For me, I want my work to have purpose, to help build back better, which is why 3D Planeta is where I’ve landed.
Social leadership (leading with trust, care, and respect within the team through building sustainable relationships with the community) combined with technological leadership: that’s what I found here. This isn’t where I thought I’d end up when I graduated from high school in 2015. I got decent marks in high school, but unlike most of my friends I didn’t see myself studying engineering or computer science at university.
I’ve always loved the problem-solving aspect of programming and gaming, playing tabletop RPGs and stuff like that, but when I was in my teens, I didn’t think that was enough to make it a career.
I didn’t think I was enough.
So I went off to my hometown university to study history and English. I lasted one year. I love reading, I love writing and creating characters, but studying it wasn’t for me. I didn’t go back the following September; instead I got a job at Wal-Mart. After four years I moved over to Sodexo, an institutional catering company. Let’s call this what it was; I was stuck. Luckily my girlfriend, now fiancé, told me to stop moping and go back to school, specifically she suggested that I try the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) and one of the programs that provides hands-on training.
In September 2019, I enrolled in NBCC’s two-year Information Technology: Programmer-Analyst program. I thought, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I could hate it and just go back to hauling hot plates, or I’m going to love it. Thankfully it was the latter and I put my heart and soul into everything I did at NBCC.
I had finally found my thing and it was life-changing – and then COVID-19 hit. How the heck was I going to find a job in the middle of a global pandemic? In April 2020, I emailed my coordinating instructor Karen Campbell for advice and she told me there was a local company looking for volunteer programmers. I thought yeah, sure I’ll give it a try, at least I’m getting some experience.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I had lucked out.
3D Planeta was just what I needed, and it turned out the feeling was mutual for co-founders Tom Batty and Norm Couturier. Their mission isn’t just to be a technology leader for the next generation of earth observation systems; they want to be social leaders as well by supporting and hiring students and young people looking to build careers in New Brunswick in high tech.
While I was working hard, volunteering with them, Tom and Norm were working hard on my and other students’ behalf, researching, applying for and negotiating funding from federal and provincial sources to enable them to hire people. That’s social leadership at work. By the end of June 2020, my volunteer gig had morphed into a paid summer internship. I was being paid to work as a programmer. That was really cool for me, someone who had a lot of self-doubt about my ability to work at what I loved.
Now here I was, halfway through my program, and I was working at this cool cutting-edge company that also just happened to be located in my hometown.
That initial experience volunteering and then the paid internship really taught me that it’s totally okay to not be perfect, to not have all the answers. That you’ll learn as you go, working with people like the folks I now call my colleagues at 3D Planeta, who will support you and encourage you.
When the internship ended, I went back to NBCC for my final year but I stayed in touch with Tom and in January 2021, he called to say he’d found some money and I could work part-time while finishing my diploma.
I graduated in June, and within the same month, I joined 3D Planeta as a full-time employee.
The past two years I’ve learned that I am more than who I thought I was thanks to my instructors at NBCC and the opportunities Tom and Norm created for me and others at 3D Planeta.
And because of the incredible social leadership mindset here at 3D Planeta, today I am exactly where I need and want to be.
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