Aaron – 2005 Update

Aaron continues his studies at the University of Regina. Like Steven he is studying Computer Science. He is also in the Co-op program, which means that he alternates semesters of studying with semesters of working in his field. He expects to complete his degree this summer.During the summer of 2003, Aaron was working at a work placement at Saskatchewan Justice, a golden opportunity to experience all the infighting and politics of a government department. It was enough to convince him that he probably didn’t want to work in the public sector all that badly. However, while he was still working at Justice, a fellow from the Coop Program contacted him and asked him if he was interested in doing a work term in China that fall.

Fortunately for Aaron, he already had a passport from his trip to Italy in grade 11, so he didn’t need too much time to prepare. The company looked after all travel and accommodation arrangements, so he just needed to get himself organized and decide what to pack. Then it was off to Jinan for four months.

Of course, he had to work while he was there, so he didn’t get in as much travelling as he might have liked, but he made it to Beijing, the Great Wall, and Tsingdao/Quindao, a coastal tourist town and the home of the most famous of Chinese beers – Tsingdao Beer, now the official beer of the Beijing Olympics.

The company provided the accommodation right across the street from the office, and there was a company park right behind his accommodation, where he could go for hikes. Aaron found the work culture very interesting. While everyone worked very hard and put in long hours, they also encouraged employees to take breaks whenever they wanted; putting one’s head down on the desk and taking a nap was perfectly acceptable.

Of course, one of the things that Aaron enjoyed most in China was bargain-hunting. He bought hundreds of knock-off DVD’s while he was there and brought home a knock-off North Face jacket for everyone in the family for Christmas. Somehow he managed to cram this all in his luggage on the way home, although he had to borrow a suitcase from one of the other guys who was coming back.

After China, Aaron had some time to make up in the classroom, so he returned to classes for a full year. In January of 2005, he took on his last work term at the RCMP in Regina. Steven had also done a work term here, but Aaron seemed to enjoy it more. For one thing, the projects he was assigned were a bit more meaningful and rewarding, and he probably also had a higher tolerance for some of the bureaucracy, having been subjected to much worse at the Justice Department.

Somewhere in the past two years, Aaron has become a bit of a fitness nut. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that students have free access to the fantastic facilities in the new Kinesiology building at the University. This, of course, appeals to Aaron’s frugal side, so he has been making the most of the exercise rooms and the pools there.

He doesn’t have all that much more time to take advantage of these facilities, though. He returns to classes in the new year and should be done classes some time this summer if everything goes as planned.

Steven – 2005 Update

Steven graduated in the spring of 2005 with a B Sc in Computer Science (Honours). He immediately began working for a software development firm in Regina called App Depot (AKA ADX Studio). He soon found that he was working ridiculous hours without much in the way of rewarding work to make it worthwhile. The management consistently bid on contracts and agreed to impossible time lines.So, he put in his resignation effective the end of September. At the same time, he began a prolonged application process with a company called Thoughtworks. Thoughtworks is an IT consulting firm which has an innovative corporate structure and some rather intriguing recruitment practices. Steven underwent several interviews and travelled to Calgary for several more stages before he was finally hired in early December. He starts work in the Calgary office on January 16th. He was able to slip up to Calgary just before Christmas and find an apartment just two blocks away from work.

He was a bit disappointed, on one count. If he had begun at the ground level with Thoughtworks. he would started with a four month training stint in Bangalore, India. However, the company decided to start him a rung or two up the organizational ladder, so he missed out on that opportunity. The upside, of course, is that he also starts with a wage that’s $10K more than he was expecting, so I think he’ll learn to live with it.

All this means, of course, that shortly after the New Year, we will be moving him up to Calgary. This is getting to be a bit of a habit, as we moved both of the boys last year at New Years too. With any luck, we can avoid the blizzard conditions that we had to cope with last year.