We had an opportunity to expose our students to the realities of the technology sector in the Okanagan Valley. Often the perception is that the high-tech jobs are only found in big centers, but this trip showed our students that these opportunities are as close as Kelowna.
With a visit to Accelerate Okanagan, a business accelerator for tech companies in the startup or growing phases, the students were introduced to several tech companies in Kelowna. The first was a company that helps coordinate volunteer opportunities for organizations, and the volunteers themselves. This highlighted the power of youth, as the company has partnered with Okanagan Mission Secondary in Kelowna to challenge the citizens of Kelowna to volunteer more time than their students.
The second visit was to meet Club Penguin Founder Lance Priebe at his newest venture Hyper Hippo. The students were all enthralled, asking questions and seeing what the reality of a days work entails at the downtown office space. The collaborative work environment provided context and excitement for what could be a career path for many of the students on the trip.
The final stop on the tech tour was a smaller venture where the company provided email tracking for large companies. Although not as glitzy and glamorous as the stop at Hyper Hippo it allowed the students the chance to see that tech can be found on many levels, in many contexts, and that the chance to find their niche could be a reality for many of them.
The tech tout to Kelowna was a great day of exploration for the students and making these connections within the community is valuable for both the students and the teachers who climbed on the mini bus.