From student to teacher: How Jonathon Leathers is giving back

Jonathon Leathers is not only an instructor, but a business owner, mentor, and organizer of WordCamp Vancouver. He shares how completing the Technical Web Designer program at BCIT has changed his career, and allowed him to create impactful opportunities for others. Where did you start your career? After earning my Bachelor’s degree in California I … Read more

From watching CSI to completing a degree in Forensic Investigation: How Brooke Ouwerkerk launched a career in genomics

When Brooke Ouwerkerk enrolled in the BCIT Forensic Investigation BTech degree program, her interest in forensics grew from “a spark into a burning flame”, and this has led to a rewarding career at Environment Canada. How has your BCIT degree impacted your career? Besides giving me the skills and knowledge to qualify, my degree was … Read more

‘A-ha’ moments and trying something new: Q&A with Computing instructor Jeff Yim

For the past year, computing instructor Jeff Yim has been teaching Object Oriented Programming 2 (part of the Computer Systems Technology Diploma). We asked him to tell us more about his background in games development, and how his career led him to BCIT. Q: Please tell us more about your background? A: I had my … Read more

From designer to business owner: How Kelsey Grant is helping small businesses succeed

We followed up with Kelsey Grant, a Technical Web Designer alumna, to learn more about where she is today – running her own business and choosing her projects – and how she’s impacting the world around her.

Where did you start your career?

I started working as a graphic designer at a local newspaper right out of high school. The experiences of the newspaper were tremendous, but the industry itself was dying, so I decided to get into a growing industry, video games. After working in video games for two years, the recession hit and all the large video game companies in Vancouver shut down.

I was out of work, and the decision was either move out of the city and look for a new job or switch careers again. A colleague of mine who had also worked in video games had just started the Technical Web Designer (TWD) program at BCIT and recommended it to me. So that’s when I chose to switch careers and get into web development.

What was your experience like during the TWD program at BCIT?

BCIT was a great learning environment for me. I had several years of design experience under my belt already, but BCIT gave me the tools to apply that to the web – not only for design but development as well. I have become a far better designer now as I also know how to develop the things I design.

On top of the practical skills, I also built up a vast network from BCIT. Our class of 20ish people came from very different backgrounds and age brackets, but we all got along really well and formed friendships that have outlasted the classroom. I still collaborate on freelance projects with many of my colleagues from BCIT.

How did the program impact your career once you graduated?

I got a job at a startup company a few weeks after I graduated. I actually had two job offers at the time and chose the startup because I thought it would be the best fit for me. My role was interface designer, but because it was a startup, I also developed the interfaces that I designed with the senior developer’s supervision.

The startup was great for learning. I learned a lot about usability, user workflows, and best practice for design and development. But after a year and a half of working behind the scenes, I missed the collaboration of working with clients. After some thoughtful preparation, I quit my job and started freelancing full time.

What is it like running your freelance digital communication business?

I love running my own company. This is officially the longest job I have ever had, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve been able to take all my favorite parts of all my past careers and apply them into what I do every day. After freelancing for a year, working on various projects big and small, I found that the niches I love working with most are small businesses and solo entrepreneurs.

There’s nothing sadder to me than seeing a company that has a great idea or business model but lacks the tools or understanding to share that idea on the web or social media. That’s where my company fills the void and gives a small business owner all the tools they need to succeed and flourish!

Once I knew I’d found a niche I could build a company around, I incorporated as Kelsey Grant Arts Inc. and started to build a team. I’ve structured my company to tailor to the specific needs of small business and solo entrepreneurs. I help them with everything from digital business organization to logo and branding, as well as maintaining a website and social media. I handle the project management, design, and development of most projects. I also have a team of talented writers, developers, designers, and marketing strategists that I collaborate with to make sure all my clients’ needs are met. In many ways, I help small businesses build their business. There’s nothing sadder to me than seeing a company that has a great idea or business model but lacks the tools or understanding to share that idea on the web or social media. That’s where my company fills the void and gives a small business owner all the tools they need to succeed and flourish!

What else are you working on?

I’m very excited about a new company I recently became a part owner of. I’ve always been conscious of my environmental impact on the planet and personally try to live a zero-waste lifestyle. However, I’m also a realist that knows every bit helps. That’s why I chose to partner with Swell Composites. They seek out the highest quality products, so you don’t have to keep buying more when it breaks. And wherever they can, they buy the most eco-friendly products. So when it does break down, it’s not ruining the land and sea. They take time to research their suppliers and only work with companies that align with their goals – Entropy Resins, Arctic foam, Marko, Formula fun, VMG Blades, and Balin to name a few.

I love helping small business, but small businesses don’t always produce something I’m passionate about. Swell composites is a company focused on building a circular and sustainable economy, and that’s something I’m very passionate about. I joined the company to maintain and grow their website, social media, and digital marketing.

I would not be where I am today, able to have complete control of the projects and people I work with, if it weren’t for the education I got from BCIT. BCIT gave me the tools and continued support to grow and learn to the point I’m at today!

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3D Models Recognition: How students are building the future of prosthetics development

When you’re building prosthetics, they need to be perfect. Teaching a computer to model the human body is a key – but challenging – first step. As part of the Data Structures and Algorithms course in the BCIT Computing Information Technology (CIT) Diploma, a team of three BCIT students worked on 3D model recognition. In … Read more

This BCIT student project program is helping BC organizations save time and money

The Federation of Independent School Associations in British Columbia (FISA) is an umbrella organization of BC independent school associations. As part of the Industry Sponsored Student Projects (ISSP) program at BCIT, a group of Computer Information Technology (CIT) students (pictured above) were recently tasked with a major redesign of FISA’s website. Technical skills provide insight … Read more

From biochemistry to the tech sector: a Computer Systems Technology grad shares her journey

When Nadia Dobrianskaia, saw the gap between what scientists needed and what developers could provide, she enrolled in BCIT’s Computer Systems Technology program to follow her father’s footsteps into a career in the tech sector. Why or how did you move into the tech sector? My family moved to Canada when I was 10 years … Read more

“Practical and hands-on skills”: How two Technology Support Professional grads benefited from a solid foundation of IT skills

Like many, Sean Ellis knew he wanted to make a career change. Sean, who was working for a small landscaping company in North Vancouver, had always been interested in computers and technology. After some research, he landed on the BCIT Technology Support Professional (TSP) program. He felt it was a great fit. Blended format and … Read more

Faculty feature: How a love of tech and writing led one BCIT instructor to a dream career

Business Communication & Web Writing Instructor Geraldine Eliot shares her personal journey into the tech sector that has spanned two continents. How did you get into tech? My journey into the tech sector has had some twists and turns. In many ways I tumbled into it, as I’ve followed a path of both writing and … Read more

Students take first place at Microsoft hackathon with idea for helping dementia patients

Four first-term BCIT Computer Systems Technology (CST) students took first place recently at The Garage at Microsoft Vancouver hackathon. The two-day event was aimed at bringing technology and healthcare together to improve health outcomes for individuals with complex needs. Making a difference in the lives of people with dementia The winning team – Michael Disyak, … Read more