The Institute of Computing, since its inception, has established a reputation of not only producing battle-ready quality graduates but of leasing competent on-the-job trainees to the industry. This year, however, the Institute has found a golden opportunity to jump the curve and prove that the OJT program can achieve something beyond what is normally written on the script.
Serve the academe
Deviating from the norms isn’t always the easiest undertaking to venture on. Bringing the OJT to the academe posed its own fair share of risks and uncertainties. The vision was noble and clear but the future looked relatively hazier than it ever was. Students have fixated their minds on apprenticing in their dream companies, dream environments, and dream jobs that it would take major effort to introduce a new scheme and maintain the same eagerness and upbeat attitude they had. But it turned out it would only take two things to get the job done: pride and legacy.
And that is what developing the university website brought to the table
Some said pride can be a man’s enemy. But a well-contained pride can be a great reminder of human’s worth. Pride is what brought Julius Caesar down; but it also is what gives us the feeling of renewed faith in ourselves and in our country every time Manny Pacquiao enters the ring.
This year’s version of the OJT revolved around the “good pride”. It is of recognizing present flaws and taking pride of walking the necessary steps toward the collective good of all concerned.
Functionality testing conducted by the crew of on-the-job trainees revealed that the former university website, while decent at best, didn’t quite adhere to the accepted web standards of today. Simply put, it contradicted to what the Institute of Computing teaching force is preaching to their students and didn’t embody the kind of web presence a premiere university in the ASEAN region would want to have.
So a challenge was issued and a battle was waged rationale Eighty-eight young minds traded beaches and summer outings for comprehensive data gathering and programming. The university library became Boracay; the CAS building became Baguio; and the Engineering building was suddenly Singapore. Movie marathons turned into coding marathons. A summer that should have been spent with loved ones became a summer in the company of colleagues and facilitators. And it didn’t take long for the trainees to realize that the mission they signed themselves into was not a walk in the park.
But as the University Guidance and Testing Office has consistently claimed, IC students are the sleeping giants of the university. And if that holds to be true, then now some of the giants are asleep no more. And they know nothing about backing down.
Comprised of B.S. Information Technology and B.S. Computer Science undergrads, the crew of student developers was subdivided into several groups, each of which assigned to a college, office, or campus under the university’s umbrella.
The crew’s adaptability was first to be put on test as the OJT facilitators decided to employ a technology relatively new to the ears of the majority. Seven days of formal training were all the crew had at its disposal. The technology wasn’t all that complicated but still it wasn’t something that can be fully grasped through a week long training. So the entire team learned its first valuable lesson of the journey: STAND ON YOUR OWN. For the world outside the academe won’t always be as accommodating as one would expect it to be. Besides, spoon-feeding is for babies, not for grown men – let alone giants.
Data gathering was the second stop of the journey. The mandate was clear: leave no pertinent information behind. With a memorandum approved by no less than the university president, representatives from each group were deployed into their different assigned university entities. From the smallest of offices and colleges, up to Bislig Campus – the most distant of the university’s external campuses – they got it all covered. Each of the trainees got a first-hand experience of how it is like to communicate with real and live clients. They got the chance to deal with different kind of attitudes, react professionally to different receptions, and most of all concretely understand more than ever the true essence of two adages: PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE and CUSTOMERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT. All of which, of course, are likely situations they would fall into once they head into the exit doors of the academe in the near future.
As the data acquisition progressed, the crew, with some help from its facilitators, brainstormed on one of the most vital components of the entire undertaking: setting the website standards. One of the most glaring factors which made the former university website a so-so site is its lack of established standards. So the crew made sure all ideas are in, all options are considered, and all suggestions are weighed for its overall substance. In the process, the crew reached a consensus of appointing select members whose innate talents and skills proved to be great qualifications for them to lead the pack. From then, a project leader was born; a graphics team was formed; and a set of content writers were chosen. Collectively, they were in-charge of the standards establishing process.
Rationale setting the standards was the most painstaking part of the development process. Even down to the minute details, the crew made sure a standard was governing. But just when everybody thought all was set and firm, changes suddenly proved to be necessary; be it on the site’s overall design or of its content’s formatting. The situation taught the crew of the value of open-mindedness and flexibility – two great fundamental characteristics that each of the trainees can surely count on as they find their niche in the industry someday.
Eventually, the standardizing did come to an end. Days of brainstorming, arguing, and making trial-and-errors lead the crew to establishing the final blueprint of the university website. It would take time to enumerate them all considering its depth, but the blueprint can be broken down into four simple words: identity, simplicity, organization, and comprehensiveness.
Identity refers to employing the appropriate color schemes and logos to the appropriate pages. This explains the maroon color scheme on the home page and on the majority of the website’s pages, while varying color schemes on each of the colleges’ pages to represent their official college color.
Simplicity means not overdoing the design and preserving the professional look and feel of the website – which is basically achieved by assuring that white is still the dominant color in every part of the site as much as possible.
Organization pertains to the strategic positioning of the contents and links; ensuring that the most significant of all contents and the most relevant of all links are placed in the positions most accessible and convenient to the visitors. This is exemplified by putting the headlines section at the most recognizable position of the website’s home page, closely joined by the calendar of events and announcements section. In the case of each college, office, or campus’ web page, the message of the institution head is highlighted to serve as a welcome greeting to the visitors and to give them a brief intro about the institution’s profile, services, achievements, etc,.
And lastly, comprehensiveness – the commitment to fill the visitors with all the information they could possibly ask about the university, or even more. This is the main reason behind the crew’s never ending pursuit of information from the different university entities; which might have caused the crew to be labeled as a nuisance by some of its clients.
The entire development team had to work within the confines of these four general standards in the entire course of the website development. But there are four other things which bounded the team in the course of the undertaking: the corners of the engineering building lobby.
Lacking the dedicated facility to house all of the 88 trainees comfortably in the entire duration of the website development, the crew, fueled by the OJT facilitators’ initiative, squeezed out every drop of resourcefulness it has and transformed the lobby to be its main headquarters. It wasn’t the most ideal working environment. The crew even half-jokingly erected a signboard which described the place as the “OJT WAR AREA”. It had poor ventilation and it posed a lot of distractions considering it was a public premises.
Rationale but there was no stopping each members of the crew from bringing their own laptops and desktop computers; from interconnecting a dozen of extension wires and automatic voltage regulators that calling it octopus connection wouldn’t even be enough of a description; and ultimately, for getting down to their business in order to get the job done.
The crew worked in its makeshift office day-in and day-out for nearly a month. Everyone worked collaboratively on perfecting the entire website based on the established standards. Minimal interference was seen from the OJT facilitators but ample guidance was given. The project leader was given the green light to run the show – and she made the most out of that vested authority.
The project leader pressed her wards for deadlines just like what leaders do to their employees in a company. Some members were up to the challenge while some crammed their way up to make it on time. Other members were promoted and were given special tasks just like how an employee gets up in rank for doing a stellar job. The facilitators aided by providing motivational talks every once in a while similar to how company advisers would advise and encourage company leaders. The entire crew had its moments of laughter and had equal time for silence. It had its taste of victory but not without undergoing through the agony of defeat.
And the next thing everybody knew is that for the past three months they have lived inside a near perfect simulation of the world outside the academe – while inside the university and while leaving their own legacy.