"As One of my First Professional Experiences, I will Cherish this Work Forever" - Eamon Sheppard | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

"As One of my First Professional Experiences, I will Cherish this Work Forever" - Eamon Sheppard

Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

Eamon Sheppard

Lang student Eamon Sheppard, embarked on a thrilling work journey last summer as he travelled across Canada with IndigenousTech.ai. During this time, he had the privilege of teaching Indigenous youth programming, attending dinner events, and participating in various networking opportunities. Faculty member Sara Wick was Eamon's academic mentor throughout the journey, guiding him to make the most of this incredible experience. We spoke with both Eamon and Sara to gain insight into their takeaways from this amazing adventure.

Why did you decide to apply/attend UG Lang?

I decided to come to the University of Guelph for Commerce for a variety of academic and non-academic reasons. For starters, the residences, food and its great athletics centre are all incredible! On the academic side, Guelph allowed me to go into undeclared Commerce in my first year as I was a little unsure of what I wanted to do, and there is a vast selection of courses and majors so that everybody can find something they like!  Past that, I really liked the availability of Co-op at Guelph as it greatly helps in the internship search process during the summers, and with getting a high-quality job after you graduate. Although not limited to those reasons, they are what stood out to me!

What has your experience been like in the program thus far?

My experience in Commerce so far has been great. The previously mentioned flexibility with courses and majors within Commerce allows each student to find something that works well for them, and there is a plethora of support systems for academic and non-academic reasons. Any time I have had challenges in class or with something such as switching courses, I have been able to quickly get a meeting with a teacher, teaching assistant, or advisor that welcomed me with open arms and helped me fix my issue very fast. Also, since there are so many people in the U of G Commerce program, you are never alone during a class and will always have people to study with and ask questions to. You can get so much out of the U of G Commerce program if you put the effort in!

What was the project that you worked on with Indigenous Tech?

My main task at IndigenousTech.ai was to facilitate an 8-week internship program where I taught Indigenous Youth (interns aged 12-18) living on reserves in BC the fundamentals of financial literacy, python, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and customer service. I also coordinated 20 speakers from the tech and finance world such as CIBC and Amazon Web Services to present their experiences weekly to the youth. Each participant was paid and given an individualized learning experience that catered to their levels of experience. At the end of the internship, the interns were split into two groups for a Capstone Project. One worked on implementing healthcare solutions in Indigenous communities, and the other worked on implementing wildfire solutions in Indigenous communities. I was in charge of motivating students, keeping track of progress, and following up with students that were struggling. Aside from this, I helped with the sales and marketing of the company through a variety of different outlets. My favourites were my trips to Vancouver and Halifax where I visited multiple Indigenous communities and participated in client dinners and networking conferences with many industry leaders from the technology and finance sectors. 

What skills did you learn and use during your internship?

I developed many skills at IndigenousTech.ai that will help me immensely in future work experiences. My communication skills heavily improved during the job as I was often in meetings with co-workers, clients, and the youth. Teaching the youth gave me a much better sense of how to explain complex concepts to different people. I also learned some of the best practices for structuring meetings with clients and closing deals which will help immensely in my career and future entrepreneurial ventures. I also was put in many stressful situations that required quick thinking, which brought out my problem-solving skills. 

Also, at the start of the job, I was put through a one-week training program that covered many different crucial parts of the IndigenousTech.ai business, including cultural awareness, security and sales and marketing. 

What has been the most fulfilling part of working on this project?

As one of my first professional experiences, I will cherish this work forever. I am a lot more prepared for future work experiences now and am very happy with what I will take away from this job. However, the most fulfilling part of working on this project was definitely supporting the Indigenous communities. For many youths, this was their first experience learning about advanced computing. We created resources to help with the training and scheduled 1-on-1 meetings with each student to address their needs. Seeing the improvement in their work and interest throughout the program, and knowing that you were part of that difference was a great feeling that I will never forget. It was also amazing that so many of them expressed an interest in pursuing a career in technology and finance!

What has been the most fulfilling part of working on this project?

{Sara Wick}: Serving as an academic mentor to Eamon while he worked at Indigeneoustech.ai. was a privilege. It was neat to see Eamon apply the skills he had learned within the Bachelor of Commerce at Lang to a workplace setting.  Not only was Eamon able to transfer some of the technical skills he’s acquired (e.g., topics in financial literacy) he was able to apply some of the softer skills (e.g., communication and teamwork) he’s developed along the way.  From the very first day I entered academia as a professor, I knew this was the career for me because of the passion students have for not only learning but the communities around them.  Eamon’s work at Indegenioustech.ai is a perfect example of how our students’ passion is leading the shift for business as a force for good.  

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