My experience as an instructor at BCIT’s High Tech Professional, NASP Program
I’ve done a lot of technical support in a hands-on way as a junior over a decade ago and I think this sets a person up for being able to train and teach. As tech support we had to develop people skills and basically try to find the best way to teach the person and guide them. I have trained many staff for my own companies and took a similar approach to how I was trained at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology).
After setting up my companies Compevo and Techrich with well trained educated staff, I took on the opportunity to teach at BCIT. It was a bit different then training staff in a datacenter or with hands on hardware and equipment. But it was a great experience. In the end, teaching was more like consulting- educating and giving them support in a hands on environment as well as giving them an understanding of the material.
I viewed this opportunity to teach as a ‘win win’ situation. I’d be gaining more experience, as well as teaching this new generation of IT professionals good understanding of the IT world outside. In a notebook things work just great, but in the real world, stuff happens. And even if you do exactly as the book says, something pops up randomly that need a work around (like Vmware often needed). And I like to think, I gave my students a good lesson on the reality of IT- always keep learning.
I remembered back to the good ol’days of going to BCIT, I tried to apply the best of what I experienced as a former student so that this new generation of students could go out to the tech world confident. I had instructors who came in outside of class time to help and also ones who gave excellent career advice who still resonate with me today. Those sorts of things make a difference and I believe in giving back in whatever shape or form possible.
Going back to the teaching, I had the privilege of teaching a course on Virtualization which specifically focused on VMWare vSphere 6.7, Cloud Architecture, High Availability, Network and Server Administration, Proxmox, KVM and I snuck in a bit of OpenStack in because they swam through the Proxmox material I created for them.
I was responsible for creating the curriculum for Proxmox and since the VMware material was outdated the students were hungry for the latest version. So on the fly I set up my own environment for testing it and made labs based on the new version of VMware with my own hardware. I stayed after class when they needed me, and gave career advice based on my experience as a CEO of a 2 tech companies. I also want them to do well in the world so I gave out references for their strengths and am introducing them to recruiters that contact me or colleagues who need talented graduates. And BCIT graduates are attractive to prospective employers.
One thing that is striking even today is how much everything overlaps, you can’t do well in datacenter, Cloud or Virtualization if you don’t have the concepts of how systems, hardware, and networking work. Some of the students came into the program with little or no background in IT and literally in a span of just over 2 months became extremely capable Software Designed Datacenter Engineers and Technicians, proficient in VMWare, Proxmox and an introduction to OpenStack. Although I would have prefered to give them more Datacenter experience and working with the hardware as well. I would have also loved to give a introduction to Blockchain as well if I had a chance to teach it. OpenStack and Blockchain are important for IT students to have in their skill set. Its above what I had to teach, but hey I had the time and they were eager.
I had to tell them I was inspired that they learned so much in such a short time. This was of course not only due to teaching, but in part to the effort of the student and you can see the difference when you have a great group of students like I did who are attentive, enthusiastic and positive about learning which is why I say it was a privilege.
On the last day I brought in donuts and took a few shots for the memories of my first teaching experience. I’d like to think these photos are a reflection of an excellent experience for everyone and the “win-win” situation I like to tout. Although I may have taught the students, I also gained valuable insight by the questions they asked. I think part of it comes down to sheer will of everyone involved and this experience has been extremely humbling.
I look forward to teaching the next round of eager IT minds!