It’s never too early to start planning for the future. That’s why Jay Patel, 15, hasn’t simply learned to program through Community Living Ontario’s Student Links initiative—he’s developed a set of web development skills that he hopes will have a direct application to the family business. Update Friday spoke with Jay as part of its initiative to spotlight some of the success stories of the Student Links program.
“That was a fun experience,” Putin told Update Friday, referring to the opportunity he had to work with Rohit Prasad, his mentor and a recent graduate in Software Engineering and Industrial Design.
Together, the two built a mock website for his father’s metalwork company, Mental Manufacturing. Jay enjoyed “Having to put a lot of pictures, descriptions for what each thing does.” The best part was, though, that the mock-up was not just an exercise—if all goes well his father, Ketan, plans to actually use the website to help conduct business.
Jay’s excitement for learning was apparently evident from the get-go. “Meeting Jay was really exciting because he reminded me of myself when I was in high school,” said Rohit in an e-mail. “Loves technology, super eager to learn and willing to try new things. So when we first met we decided it would be a good idea to learn how to create a simple website. I’d walk him through it and he could keep exploring the possibilities on his own later.”
Jay seems to be doing just that. Not only is he developing the site for Mental Manufacturing—he hopes to take over the company himself one day.
He’s trained for that potential eventuality, having helped out with work over the years. “I’ve seen a lot of physical metal work, and I figured I felt strong enough to be able to take over that stuff…” he boasted. “I’ve known how to use a lot of machines back in the day. I use the welding machine, I use the bending [machine], I use the punching machine, pretty much everything.”
Rohit gained something from the program, as well. “I learned a lot, not only from Jay but from the volunteer experience itself. It was great being exposed to Jay’s eagerness to learn, but also at the same time, it felt great to impart knowledge, to be able to teach something you’re passionate about, and working with someone equally passionate about it.”
The two aren’t together anymore, as Rohit has since taken a job in Germany, but he has nothing but good feelings toward his former student. “We’re gonna keep in touch and I like to think he’s learned as much from me as I did from the whole experience!”
All of this has given Jay what he believes is a strong direction to focus on as he completes high school, saying “I’d like to start taking these IT courses, business, stuff like that.”
In addition to taking over the family business, he’s considering opening his own IT company on the side, which may potentially serve Mental Manufacturing as a client.
“Through the experience,” his Student Links coordinator, Natalie Lowe, provided, “Jay was able to think about how his potential role as a business owner/manager and his interest in computers can be combined together to establish a lasting progressive business.”
Planning for the future, indeed!
– Daniel Share-Strom