Okanagan College’s IT training pays dividends

Demand for graduates may also partially explain the program's high ratings by students in independent surveys.

Choosing the bachelor of computer information systems degree program at Okanagan College was a no-brainer for Chris Kluka—and it has been a decision that paid off in spades with career opportunities.

Chris Kluka

Kluka had taken post-secondary studies at other Canadian institutions, but the credential and education he received didn’t fully meet his needs or expectations.

“I’m interested in infrastructure and systems management,” said Kluka, who is now at an IT company Winnipeg in systems infrastructure architect at Daemon Defense Systems Inc.

“I looked at programs across the country and chose Okanagan College. The other programs I took and others I looked at had the wrong focus.

“They were focused on programming or computer science. I wanted a program focused on IT systems implementation and management.”

With the benefit of the college giving him transfer credits for much of his post-secondary education taken elsewhere, Kluka entered the computer information systems (CIS) diploma program at Okanagan College.

The CIS diploma is a two-year credential that ladders into the college’s four-year bachelor of CIS degree.

At the college, he was also able to integrate some courses from the network and telecommunications engineering technology program as electives.

Between diploma and degree, Kluka found work with a Kelowna-based company, FormaShape, where he started as a junior network administrator. Eight months later he was IT manager. Then he came back for his degree.

After graduation, it was a return to Manitoba, where career opportunities have been unfolding.

For the past two years, he has been with Daemon Defense Systems Inc. and the contracts the company has secured have afforded him considerable experience in a variety of environments.

“I’ve been leading architecture design and deployment in projects such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, network redevelopment in the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the Investors Group Field, home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“Those three projects alone represent 6,300 network drops and $20 million worth of servers and storage architecture.

“I have designed and implemented the IT systems architecture for three of the largest projects in the province in the last two years. ”

The college’s degree program has a solid reputation among employers, explained department chair Rick Gee.

Demand for graduates may also partially explain the high ratings given the program by students in independent surveys conducted by the provincial government.

A review of five years of graduate data shows a 94 per cent employment rate, average annual earnings of $56,000 and 91 per cent of surveyed students reporting they were satisfied or very satisfied with their education.

“There will be continued demand for diploma and degree graduates from our programs,” said Gee.

“Our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on information systems, and that bodes well for the people who can understand and manage them.”

For more information on the degree or diploma programs in Computer Information Systems, visit okanagan.bc.ca/bcis.

 Kelowna Capital News