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Founders' Blog

Posted on April 8, 2016

Have you ever bought a box of Timbits only to realize there were no chocolate ones? First, you try harder. Digging in the box. Shaking it up a bit. “I saw chocolate in the advertisement. There must be one there!”

Then, you realize: it is true. You paid all that money. But, what you want, what you had thought about and salivated about, and waited for – just isn’t there. You become irritated. And angry. You consider going back to the restaurant, returning it and getting a new box. But you’ve come too far. You invested too much. Now, you must accept the plain, mediocre, unsatisfying Timbits that you have.

After spending tens of thousands on education, some students emerge from school hoping to land that entry level career job that they’ve worked so hard to get. But, rather than stepping into the labour force on their dream career path that they invested so much time, energy and money, they must settle for a mediocre and unsatisfying position outside of their field. And for many, there’s no going back to the store to get a new box. So people settle.

Nearly 40 per cent of university graduates work in positions only requiring a college diploma. About one in five graduates work in a position only requiring a high school certificate. Having graduates do low skilled work is like calling in the SWAT to break up a school fight.

Breaking apart the averages, women and immigrants are more likely to be underemployed. And, worse of all, despite us knowing that this problem has existed for decades, there has been no improvement. Our leaders worry about the brain drain: the emigration of highly skilled workers to another country. But, they forget about the brains down the drain: the atrophy of underused highly skilled workers in our own country. It’s a technical term. Look it up.

Underemployment is a problem for those lucky enough to have jobs. Youth unemployment is typically double the normal rate, and it’s no different for university graduates. After the recession, the unemployment rate for young university graduates jumped and has not returned to its pre-recession level. For those who are not graduated, around one in seven youth are unemployment.

Unemployment Rate of University Graduates in Canada

Several reasons are behind these labour-market challenges. Youth, at the age of 16, are asked to choose the career they want to be in for the rest of their life -- I can’t even choose what to have for dinner tomorrow night. Given the lack of labour market information available to youth, inevitably, some could pick a field that has poorer labour market prospects. For example, those who are in visual and performing arts, and communication technologies, humanities, social and behavioural sciences and law, business and management and public administration typically have higher rates of underemployment.

But, more importantly, the labour market is challenging and undergoing significant rebalancing. Older workers whose jobs were lost as factories or plants are shut down are retrained and are competing for similar positions to new graduates. When universities graduates must compete for limited positions against experienced workers, they are immediately disadvantaged because of the lack of experience. In fact, those who are just emerging from school are twice as likely to be underemployed compared to someone ten-years older. The lack of experience limits students’ chances of gaining experience.

But, what students lack in professional experience, they gain in cutting edge skills. The world is changing – fast – and knowledge is constantly being uprooted. Enterprises must hire fresh minds to ensure that they are at the forefront in knowledge. Cutting edge manufacturing techniques from a generation ago are being quickly replaced with 3D printing. Print and traditional marketing is quickly being replaced with social media marketing. Analytical tools and statistical software of the past based on mainframes and supercomputers are quickly being replaced by efficient pocket-based analytics powered by cloud computing. The skills new students bring to bear are recognized by enterprise who bring them on board. In a survey, nearly 90 per cent of enterprise were reported to be very satisfied with their hire of recent graduates. Over 90 per cent of enterprise are satisfied with the level of preparation of students in school.

Skills are developed from any kind of experience. But, enterprise focus on work experience to validate skills. This is less logical than dividing by zero. We, at prodigiiX, want to create a community connecting students that are high skilled with enterprises that have project-based or short-term opportunities. Gain experience while you’re gaining your education. Graduate school and be immediately ready for your career. Follow us and join us in our journey to implement this idea. Because life is like a box of Timbits, you’ll never know what you find – unless you fill your own box.

Posted on March 25, 2016

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible."
-Howard Schultz

I want to first welcome you to our website and the blog that will take over the website until we launch in September 2016. prodigiiX will be an online community that helps students utilize their skills, gain meaningful experience and build their portfolio by connecting them with enterprises for project-based experiences. A growing problem in the labour market, particularly for recent graduates is underemployment. Too many students with high levels of education are working in positions where they are underutilized and, most importantly, not inspired.

Eventually this blog will open to all prodigiiX users and encompass a variety of topics. Until launch, this blog will be used to document the design and implementation of an idea. These days, we spend most of our time coding, thinking through issues that we find, and developing out and improving the concept of our business. In the spirit of community, we want to share our story, including our highs and lows, best practices and lessons learned.

The first question we are always asked is "How did you think of this idea?" Most people tell you that if you don't have a good story you need to make up one. I hope I don’t disappoint you by only being able to write one (honest) paragraph on how the idea of prodigiiX came about.

I was sitting in a conference that was focused on entrepreneurs and mentorship. I began wracking my mind with "problems" that people face and how I might be able to solve it. One of the problems that piqued my interest was the growing underemployment and unemployment of graduates. I had first hand experience with this problem after completing my undergraduate degree and it is the reason I completed additional schooling instead of entering into the labour force. Thinking about my experience is when I thought to myself, “wouldn't it be great if there was a way for students to gain the experience they needed while they were still in school, and I wanted that solution to be something that would complement and go beyond coop programs provided by some colleges and universities.

Often, people think that exciting ventures, innovative inventions and profitable enterprises are generated through elaborate processes and are limited to a handful of geniuses, but nothing could be further from the truth. The best ideas are created from problem identification and the desire to find and implement solutions – when our brains have moved on from obsessing over a problem to brainstorming solutions.

I often wonder how many great ideas were lost because they were never implemented. It was not long after I thought of this idea that I brought in a co-founder to help develop and build this idea. The initial development started about four months ago, and for about a month, we were incredibly dedicated to building the business. The amount of coding that has to occur for the website to function as we plan is quite unbelievable. Unfortunately for my partner, I'm only able to do very basic coding. But what I lack in programming knowledge, I gain in delegation skills.

For example, see this blog? I was able to find a blog template, implement the template, adjust it to reflect the prodigiiX style and now type up this blog. However, my partner had to spend all the time making all the links and features functional. (While I speak in past tense, this has yet to be done so, partner, consider this your next task prodigiiL!)

Until recently, my biggest personal struggle with prodigiiXhas been that I didn't fully believe in the potential of the idea and because of this I lacked the motivation to invest time and energy into this big project. So what changed? I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve deduced that I was simply in a motivation slump which stemmed from self-doubt and the lack of confidence in my ability to create a successful business. Typically, I'm incredibly internally motivated so no amount of encouragement from those around me could motivated me to sit down and work on prodigiiX. One night, I realized that I needed to force dedication and productivity upon myself. I made a decision to commit myself to my idea and try to , I created a work space to inspire creativity (stay tuned for a future blog post) and I forced myself to not sit on my incredibly comfortable couch – the biggest barrier to productivity that has ever existed.

I have gone 4 whole days without sitting on my couch. I think I have broken my dependency on the couch and Netflix. It has also been over 4 days since I've felt any self-doubt (correlation not causation!). The past few weeks, I have seen more 3am nights then I would prefer to as my partner and I spend most of our nights working on prodigiiX. It has been a long time since I've felt this motivated to work on a project and best of all, I believe in its success and the change that we can achieve through the community we are developing.

I think self-doubt is a constant battle that everyone faces, and with practice we get better at ignoring this doubt. I often caught myself wondering why would my idea be successful? Thinking that good ideas weren’t generated by people like me’? WRONG. A good idea can be generated by anyone and that idea can reach success when that person has a passion to solve it. It is also important to realize that success just may come in a different form then I expect.

If I had to pick a lesson to share with you, the best lesson I have learned so far is that it really doesn't matter if prodigiiX works or not. Even if it becomes nothing more than a washed out blog and a pile of code - it will not be a failure. We will think of another idea (or at least I will) and apply what we learned from prodigiiX to it. And maybe the new idea won't turn into anything more then code either, but at the end of the day, what I will have gained is feeling the exhilaration of motivation and creativity. Passion in our lives creates energy and positivity that becomes an addiction. I want passion to be my only addiction in life (that and cookies – I guess you could say I’m passionate about cookies).

The purpose of this first blog was to introduce you to prodigiiX and remind you that success is not whether or not an idea turns out as you had plan, but what you have learned from the experience. We are going to make our best efforts to update the blog and detail the creative, not so creative and sometimes frustrating process. prodigiiL may spend less time blogging, because he needs to be writing code. I will make sure that I try to snap pictures of his frustrated face from time to time so I'm not the only one who gets enjoyment from them.

Now, I need to return my attention to the implementation and get some sleep. Through prodigiiX, we are aiming to create opportunities for you to find your spark and ignite your motivation, build bridges and reach new levels the beyond the clouds. . Join us in our road to make prodigiiX a success.

Experience the future with us!