Zack Geary - Colas Step Student

17 September 2017

Following the 2017 STEP Programme, we spoke to student Zack Geary about his summer project.

Where are you based and what is your STEP project?

I’m based at Colas IOM’s head office, Broomhouse. My STEP project has been to improve business processes and resource management using a system called Laserfiche. It has involved creating electronic Forms that pass between staff automatically and setting up workflows that organise documents. I’ve also been doing small bits of IT work.

Have you needed to use any of the skills or knowledge that you are learning/have been studying at University or the Business School?

I study pharmaceutical chemistry at University so there isn’t much knowledge that is directly transferable. However, I’ve had to apply an array of skills that are vital to my studies. The main skill would be problem solving, I had to find creative solutions to produce the outcomes I wanted. For example, I needed to set up a workflow that could tell when all weekly submitted timesheets were present in the repository, but Laserfiche has no specific feature that does this. I set up the workflow so that when a new timesheet is saved to the repository, a search is performed using the ‘timesheet template’ and the ‘week ending’ of the timesheet being saved. If more than X number of results were found in the search, the system would know that all the timesheets were in.

In contrast, at University, we’re taught how to effectively communicate science to the public. This can be in the form of blog posts, posters, etc. This skill proved especially useful when I was asked to produce a flyer for Colas for the southern agricultural show.

Have you enjoyed working within a business environment and what has it taught you that you perhaps didn’t expect?

I have very much enjoyed working in a business environment. I didn’t expect to be able to integrate so easily into the office I was working in. It was really nice to be treated as an adult and a colleague after coming from school and university where you’re nearly always subordinate to anyone older than you.

Do you think this will enhance your employment opportunities once you finish your degree and are looking for full-time employment?

I would say that I value the work experience from this placement more than the pay. I think it has given me an excellent insight into the decorum of a professional environment and a concrete example of being able to adapt to fit a challenge. I am actually happy that my placement wasn’t connected to my degree as I believe it displays a greater range of ability.

Do you think you will look for employment opportunities on the Isle of Man as a result of your STEP placement, if yes or no, please could you explain?

It hasn’t made me more likely to work in the Isle of Man because I want to complete my degree to work in pharmaceutical research, which there are fewer opportunities for on the island, to my knowledge. However, it has opened my eyes to the actual range of job possibilities on the Isle of Man.

Would you recommend the STEP Scheme to future students?

I would highly recommend the STEP scheme. It is a great opportunity as work experience and to be paid for full time work for 8 – 12 weeks. Although I may not get as much per hour as my friends, it has proved very difficult for them to find a company/job that will take them on for full time work, just over summer.

Discover more about the STEP Programme on the Isle of Man.

Find out more about Colas Holdings (IOM) Ltd