Reuben Peter-Paul, from Pabineau First Nation, completed his Masters of computer science at UNB and is now working at Siemens as a Senior Application Developer. He enjoys working there and is always trying to recruit others to join the Siemens team. Throughout his career in IT, Reuben has learned the value of having a mentor.
“After I completed my undergrad in computer science I worked as a consultant for 1 year,” said Reuben. “The biggest challenge was that I didn’t have a mentor at the time. I didn’t know how to negotiate salary, position or responsibilities, and the biggest challenge was not being able to manage expectations.”
While pursuing his Masters of computer science, Reuben had several mentors and upon graduation he followed his supervisor’s recommendation when applying for his next job.
“Mentors have made a big difference for me,” said Reuben, “because when you are younger there are times when you can’t make a decision and that is where mentors really help; they can guide you and give you advice on your decision. They’ve been there and have the experience.”
Reuben believes that all education is important and will benefit anyone who takes it. Education is never a waste of time, even if you don’t work in your field of study, the experience will complement whatever you pursue. Of course, Reuben has a great interest in computer science and believes that the ICT field holds great opportunity for Aboriginal people.
“There are a lot of benefits to post-secondary education, in my case where I did computer science, I got a very employment-ready set of skills,” said Reuben. “I was able to hit the ground running; the immediate benefit of programming is that you are employable right away. It is kind of like a trade. If you take a certificate program or computer science, it is a skill that you will immediately be able to apply to a job and get paid well while doing it.”
Reuben has had a few different jobs in the ICT field. When he heard that Siemens was coming to Fredericton, he knew that he was interested in working there. He wanted to work for a company where he could keep his skills up-to date. He knew that they were doing some cutting edge work so he arranged to have a meeting/interview with them through his network of friends and former colleagues. Because of his education and job experience, he was offered employment right away.
“The division that I'm in at Siemens is called 'Energy Management', and we are a Research and Development office,” said Reuben. “Smart-grid tech is a new area. Smart grid covers smart meters in your home to solutions that can be delivered to the utility company. It is a growing industry and there are few industry leaders right now, so to be a part of a company working in this field is new and exciting. To be part of a team that is succeeding at the global level is exciting.”
Reuben knows that no job is perfect though and all jobs come with some form of challenge. Reuben believes that it is important to communicate and not give up in order to overcome any challenges.
“Siemens is good at providing a mentor right off the bat, it’s usually the team lead,” said Reuben. “Being able to communicate any issue or challenge to the team lead and to know that they have heard it, documented it and that a solution is being worked on is a good feeling. It’s important to communicate. ”
Reuben’s final piece of advice for Aboriginal people who are considering a career in information technology is to spend some time exploring the options in IT.
“IT is a big field,” said Reuben. “It depends on what area of it you are interested in. Spend some time and figure out what you want to do and then go from there. If you want to go into mobile application development, a good technical college would be sufficient but if you are looking more long term, and really want to be a programmer, I would suggest computer science. For someone who isn’t totally sure, you could start with the 2 year community college course and then transfer to computer science if you realize that you enjoy programming. The degree will help you get the jobs that you want and will help with career advancement. Regardless of which training option you choose to proceed with, embrace every co-op or internship opportunity. These experiences count on your resume and are invaluable!"