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Council helps students take first STEPs on their career paths

Tuesday, 03 September 2013 19:49

Three undergraduates have gained valuable career experience after Douglas Borough Council engaged them under the Department of Economic Development’s STEP scheme to work on projects that will help determine the size, shape and scope of future services.


Sponsored by Celton Manx the Isle of Man STEP scheme recruits undergraduates then matches them to the specific needs of organisations to work on projects to improve the business.


Third-year Queen’s University Belfast student James Allen, studying for an MEng in computer games development, was working in the ICT section, creating an interactive map of Noble’s Park for the Council’s website which incorporated a number of mini computer games and was compatible with tablet and smartphone devices.


His work not only won praise from his mentor, Head of ICT Daniel Looney, but also saw the 20-year-old former St Ninian’s High School student win the Isle of Man STEP Scheme 2013 Best Presentation award.


JamesDSC 6203 MediumJames Allen with Her Worship the Mayor Councillor Carol Malarkey and the Mayoress Councillor Sara Hackman and head of ICT Daniel Looney


James said: ‘The whole experience has shown me just how many different career options I may be able to pursue in the “real world” after university. I’ve been  able to put what I’m studying to practical use, which has meant that in the course of my research I’ve had to go out and talk to people involved with Noble’s Park, so that’s been particularly useful in helping develop my social skills.’


DannyJames DSC0521 MediumJames Allen pictured with his Best Presentation award and the Council's head of ICT Daniel Looney at the DED STEP 2013 awards presentation


Leah Boardman, 26, from Ballabeg and a former Castle Rushen High School student, is in her third year of fashion journalism studies at Southampton Solent University. She was working on a project in waste management looking at the number and frequency of households using the Council’s kerbside recycling service. The project also saw her conduct an audit to assess the amount of waste being deposited in wheeled bins and interview users at the Eastern District civic amenity site to identify customers’ recycling practices.


LeahDSC 6187 MediumLeah Boardman with the Mayor and Mayoress and waste services' Jeanette Edwards and Paul Gray


Leah said: ‘As a fashion journalist student working on a waste management project I have had to be flexible in my approach, which has been very useful. And what’s been interesting is that I’ve had my eyes opened to just how many different types of job opportunities are out there after university.’


Third-year Preston University architecture undergraduate Mike Quayle was engaged by Douglas Development Partnership to assist with a bid for Purple Flag accreditation, the scheme that looks at the quality of a town’s night-time environment. The project required him to arrange an initial ‘snapshot’ workshop with a cross section of organisations and agencies, gather information to measure how well Douglas rates as an appealing night-time destination then run an overnight assessment exercise to observe how the town operates during the evening. The 21-year-old from Colby said: ‘It was a really interesting project to be working on, meeting people on site from so many different types of businesses. This was a valuable experience which has definitely helped improve my communication and research skills.’


MikeDSC 6193 MediumMike Quayle with the Mayor and Mayoress and Douglas Development Partnership's Chris Pycroft


At a reception to congratulate the students and their mentors Her Worship the Mayor Councillor Carol Malarkey JP said: ‘The STEP scheme provides mutually beneficial advantages. The students gain valuable real-life work experience while the Council has the opportunity to progress projects that otherwise may not have been possible at this time of limited resources.’


Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP added: ‘It is thanks to our STEP students and the support and guidance of our senior officers who have mentored them so ably that we, as a local authority, are able to move forward.’