The Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI) grant program is helping startups hire students across BC! How does it work? Startups get funds to grow their teams, while students get some hands-on work experience and entrepreneurial training before they graduate.
What’s it like for participants? We interviewed grant recipient John Zhu, founder and director at Nexus Media, and their student, Logan.
Tell us a bit about Nexus Media
John: Nexus Media Ltd is a Vancouver-based video game company founded by veterans in the gaming industry and specializing in Mobile Games development.
We believe that a great mobile game can connect millions of people anywhere, anytime, and inspire them to experience the world in new dimensions.
Why did you apply for the ISI grant?
John: We think BC has a wonderful pool of high-quality STEM students.
We hired two students, Logan and Tommy, during the past term. Logan worked as a student in our company before and we really liked him so we wanted him to take on more responsibilities. He also wanted to pursue the role of game designer, especially on more customer-facing tasks, including promoting the game to beta testers and getting customers feedback. The grant program was very helpful to fulfill his dream!
Tommy had taken a role before (at a different company) and wanted to continue working in a more professional environment. Without the ISI grant, we would not have been able to create the position and have Tommy on board.
How did you find the application process?
John: I found the application process very smooth and the team at New Ventures BC was very nice and helpful, especially Rachel, who did an outstanding job.
How did hiring a student help your startup?
John: BC has a pool of high-quality STEM students that can not only offer their engineering knowledge but also open-thinking and the game (playing) experience.
Logan and Tommy both worked as game designers. Even though they had not worked on that before, they picked up very quickly. They both attend regularly local indie game studio meetups and they had arranged sessions with different levels of game players, collecting valuable feedback and suggestions, and using them to design and improve the game balance.
Any success stories?
John: They both worked out very well. Once the term was over, we hired both of them as part-time employees (so that they could finish school) and, after graduation, Logan has become a full-time employee.
Unfortunately, Tommy has decided to take another offer, but I think it is still a success story for the ISI program!
What was the experience of working with a student?
John: It is great!
Both of them have done co-op terms so it was easy to get them on board. They were also eager to learn new skills and to lead the tasks on their own. We liked so much working with them that, after they graduated, we gave them an official job offer.
Would you recommend the program?
John: Yes, absolutely!
I think this grant program is very helpful for startups and small tech companies, and for the students who are interested in joining the tech industry.
The ISI program helps companies finding the high-quality students who passed the training phase and that can take on more responsibilities, and students have the opportunity to learn how a company works and become leaders in their field.
How did it benefit you (Logan) to work with the company?
Logan: Working at Nexus Media was my first opportunity in the game industry and it provided me with invaluable learning experience as a designer.
My time at Nexus Media has taught me the process of game development on a granular scale and has connected me with incredibly talented individuals from all disciplines within the field.
This experience also led directly to a full-time offer from Nexus Media and I now work full time in an industry I adore!
Did you have work experience before this?
Logan: Before this position, I had worked several internships and co-op as a web developer for B2B businesses.
I had no professional game design experience, but my work in web gave me significant experience as a general User Experience designer which shares a variety of expertise with game design.
Why would you recommend other students get involved?
Logan: What I learned at Nexus Media was beyond anything I learned during class time.
Spending eight hours a day working with professionals in the industry teaches you at a speed unparalleled in traditional education and the connections I’ve made here are incredibly valuable.
Any parting thoughts?
Logan: Thanks to the ISI grant I was able to have this great opportunity at Nexus Media to start my career and I will always be thankful to New Ventures BC for this incredible deed!
Interested in applying to the ISI grant program? Applications are open. Your BC-based tech company or startup could receive up to $10,000 a year to hire a post-secondary student.Hire a student