BCIT – From SFU to BCIT

BCIT-3A review of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) – New Media Design & Web Development program.
By Ken G. who graduated in 2009.
After graduating from SFU with a degree in Computer Science, I felt that I needed more practical skills in order to get a job. I spent quite sometime researching all the different schools and programs in the Lower Mainland, and what eventually caught my eye was BCIT’s New Media program.

After spending 4 years in university, with endless electives, irrelevant classes, and scheduling issues, I didn’t have much time to lose.

The program is extremely compact, lasting for one year only. After spending 4 years in university, with endless electives, irrelevant classes, and scheduling issues, I didn’t have much time to lose. The curriculum seemed in-depth covering a variety of different mediums.

Because I didn’t have much of a design background, I decided that Media Design would be a good fit for me since I could still transfer and utilize some of my technical skills from SFU. At the same time, I was hoping to learn the design aspect of things as I had always wanted. I have always had a keen interested in design even though I never formally studied it.

The most important factor that convinced me to attend BCIT were the numbers. On their website, BCIT showed the percentage of graduates getting jobs after attending the program and their salaries. It was proof enough that the program would produce real results for me.

The Pros

When I was at SFU, professors were mainly concerned with their research work or were already retired. At BCIT, you work with instructors in a hands-on environment with many of them still in the industry. This is not to say that all of the instructors were perfect. There were some instructors who lacked knowledge in the area that they were teaching or did not have enough experience to be teaching; however, in general, the faculty was great. The small class sizes didn’t hurt either. The small classes helped in fostering a learning environment so that discussions and questions were always welcomed and encouraged.

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We all received access cards to gain access to the campus 24/7. The equipment that was available to us were all updated and in good condition. Overall, we had all the tools we needed to succeed. You practically don’t need a computer since you can do everything in the labs they provide you. Everyone is given a dedicated computer to use so there is no need to share either.

In addition to the regular media design-related courses, there were a couple others courses that specifically taught us how to sell ourselves. For example, we had resume and interview workshops which proved to be quite helpful. We worked on our resumes, portfolios, and planned out what field to specialize in. This was comparable to the career prep class in high school, but focused in one field as building a media design portfolio is quite different from other fields .

The Cons

First of all, the textbooks that were “required” turned out to be useless. The instructors did not teach from them and they ended up just collecting dust. Anyone want to buy a Photoshop CS book? You might want to consider sharing textbooks with your fellow students if you don’t feel comfortable doing without them.

We had a taste of the real world when it came time for our practicums. The practicums were self-directed, meaning that we had to find and arrange them for ourselves. Because BCIT does not have any partnerships with companies in which students can work for (like a Co-op program), many students struggled to find placement. What’s more is that the school didn’t even offer us any leads. A little help here would have gone a long way.

In the last 3 months of the program, I felt as if I had not learned anything new. The program was dragging on and could really have been condensed to 9 months. In addition, almost a month of that was the practicum. People were coming in and out of class with their own practicums and projects to do, it was quite disorganized to say the least.

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The Verdict

I only had one goal in mind when I enrolled in the program – to graduate with enough knowledge and experience to get a job. And I did just that. After my practicum at an Ad agency, they hired me as a graphic designer/web developer.

The curriculum was sufficient enough to give me the skillset needed to start as an entry level designer/developer. The rest just comes with experience which no school can teach.

Find your niche and stick to it. No one wants someone who is mediocre at everything.

Last Words Of Advice

The best advice I can give to new students entering the program would be to find your niche and stick to it. No one wants someone who is mediocre at everything. You just need to find an area you are particularly good at or interested in. Whether it is designing, programming, or anything, the sooner you find it the better. That way, you can get yourself in the workplace right away with some confidence to back it up. Because in the end, a job is what we are hoping to get out of this, right? Good luck!

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