It’s no secret that university students are often not as prepared as they need to be for the real world. Adding a little salt to the wound, many students, upon graduating, can quickly get trapped in the “need experience to apply but can’t get experience unless I get a job” circle. That’s why co-op and capstone programs exist; to give students the experience they need to avoid being disqualified right off the bat.
While these programs afford students wonderful opportunities to try their hand at work in their given field, many are faced with the daunting task of translating classroom learnings to applied techniques that have real implications on a company and the clients they serve.
This ITM Capstone Survival Guide is specifically written to respond to the unique needs of the BTM Capstone students at the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management (TRSITM), as the Capstone project is the only of its kind within the school that lasts a longer period of time (eight months). There are some common challenges faced by these particular students that can dull their learning experiences.
In particular, students have struggled greatly with securing a committed client that is eager and ready to jump on board and remain partnered with a student group for the 8 month duration of the project. It is difficult enough for students, most of which are lacking any real networking experience, to find and persuade a client lead to sponsor a Capstone project and even more difficult to do this under an intense deadline.
What is the deadline to find a client? That is one of common questions asked by students. What makes the 90A/B Capstone project course different from other courses is that students are expected to begin working on the project on the first day of class. This carries with it hidden expectations that by that point, they should have already formed a group and found a client to work with. This means that if students haven’t fulfilled one or both of these requirements, they are already behind on the first day of class.
As well, students have expressed no shortage of grievances over effectively managing their client relationships in a way that sets everyone up for success. This comes as no surprise since most of these students are ill-equipped in both knowledge and experience to know how to properly manage their dealings with clients. Oftentimes, these shortcomings involve:
- Setting unrealistic expectations (Ex- in the contract, frequency of communication, deliverables, etc.)
- Inability to keep clients engaged and motivated
- Either initiating or inappropriately responding to conflicts with the client
- Unprofessional behaviour
- Lack of clarity and/or loss of sight into what the real project goals are
So, this guide essentially helps to fill the knowledge gaps and prime Ted Rogers IT Capstone students in a way that they can start their consultancy with their A-game on.
So, Why Pressbooks?
In 2016, Ryerson University partnered with eCampus Ontario in an effort to make post-secondary education more accessible for its students. Part of this endeavour entailed the Pressbooks platform as a tool to create free online learning resources.
In the past, we’ve attempted to relay some of the information in this Survival Guide through information sessions and workshops, but we felt that our message was restricted in some ways by the forums being used and simply put, we just weren’t able to reach everyone. Pressbooks solves most of these issues and then some.
By providing this guide through Pressbooks, students can access content at any time as long as they have a running internet connection. That means that during the summer months when incoming Capstone students are gearing up for the course, they can remain at work or on vacation without fear of not having access to needed information. For those who don’t always have access to the Internet, or for the ones who are keen to read physical textbooks, this book can also be saved as digital document or even printed. What’s more is that using this platform, we’re able to deliver multi-modal content in ways that our previous methods (ex- workshops) wouldn’t allow. In this guide, students can build up their knowledge of all things IT Capstone related by reading, watching videos, playing games, doing quizzes, etc.
What to Expect in This Guide
The ITM Capstone Survival Guide is organized into five parts. Each part addresses a different facet of the Capstone essentials that you’ll need to be in the know about. Because the way this guide is organized, you’ll find that it’s quite simple to find that topic you’re interested in. We cover a lot of ground here, so most certainly, whatever Capstone related topic you’re looking for, you can almost bet that it’s covered in this guide somewhere. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to see in each part:
PART 1 – Killin’ It Already: Getting Set Up For An Epic Win
Being successful on your Capstone project hinges upon you ensuring that your team has taken the right steps to be set up for a big win. The chapters in this section will cover everything you need to know and do before the course officially starts. It’s all about hitting the ground running on day one.
PART 2 – Consulting U: The Rundown On IT Consulting
Most of you don’t have actual consulting experience and yet you’ll be expected to run this project like a seasoned professional. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Consider this part like a crash course on IT consulting. You’ll get to dive into each phase of the consulting process and explore the appropriate requirements and outputs.
PART 3 – The Life Of The Party: Everything You Need To Know About Managing Your Client
Journeying through client relationships, like any other relationship, can sometimes be messy but rewarding endeavours. The relationship you have with your client is important because it is the cornerstone of your project; without it the project doesn’t exist. In this part, we give you the low-down on how to manage these special client relationships effectively.
PART 4 – It’s All About That Bass, No ‘Trouble’: Problem Solving Proactively
Let’s face it, all consultants, whether student or professional, are met with problems. In fact, it’s the crux of what you do – using your skills to solve problems. But what about when you’re facing unexpected or unwanted problems. You know – the kind that makes your insides scream “eek!”. Part 4 is all about giving you the tools to navigate through these sort of issues with wisdom and grace.
PART 5 – What’s In My Toolbox?
The items in Part 5 are things that any good IT consultant would have in their proverbial toolbox. This book is all about equipping you, so in this part you can find a range of tools (templates, checklists, app links, etc.) and other resources (articles, excerpts, etc.) organized by relevant chapter that you can arm yourself with to manage your Capstone project like a boss.