Paul Piche likes talking to people. As a Cactus Club bartender, he enjoyed both engaging with customers and working with colleagues to solve customer-service problems. Friends told the friendly Maple Ridge native he’d be a natural at sales, so he enrolled in the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s (BCIT) renowned two-year Marketing Management program, specializing in professional sales. And it did prove to be a great fit.
Except for one thing. Talking – on the phone.
“As a bartender, phone experience was not something I possessed,” Piche recalls. “I wasn’t comfortable with it. In the classroom we practised calls with other students, but it wasn’t real life.”
However, through business internships, BCIT builds in that all-important dose of real life. In his internship with Leavitt Machinery, Piche finally faced up to the dreaded telephone. Working in the service department – to give a full sense of the company, Leavitt places its student interns in each department – Piche had to call customers to book service days.
Taking a deep breath, he made the plunge. “I’d ask, ‘Is it OK to come in on this day and do this?’ And if they needed parts, I’d see if they’d like to go ahead with repairs and enhance their machines through the service program.”
Piche, who’s since been hired by Leavitt, now laughs about his phone phobia. But at the time he was terrified. “The thing is, you don’t really grow if you’re not uncomfortable. It was good to be thrown into that and learn.”
A BCIT School of Business internship gives students the reality beyond the textbook, says Brad Taylor, general manager of Leavitt’s wholesale and international sales. Taylor should know. He’s a BCIT grad, as are many of Leavitt’s executive and sales management teams.
“An internship lets students translate what they’re learning into experience. It shows them the vision, the real-life common goal, of getting a job, going out to make money and having success.”
For the two-day-a-week, 10-week practicum, Leavitt pairs each intern with a junior sales rep. As well as having the students shadow the reps, the company encourages them to ask the reps blunt questions, “so they can connect the dots: if they were to get hired, what would it look like? How is life different in the post-school world?” Taylor explains.
BCIT grads are sought-after hires, “well rounded, ready to put their skills to work post-graduation. They’re the next generation that’s going to help us and replace us. It’s part of our strategy for growth. We need them to push us, to give us a different, fresh look to keep us progressing.”
This article is brought to you by: The BCIT School of Business, June 12,2017