By: Daniel Cress

What does a diploma from Algonquin College mean? Where does it give a graduate the opportunity to work? Well at the very least, it means you can get a job working at the college it seems. Think about your teachers. Most of us can say that one, if not two or three are Algonquin grads. Look at the administration of the college, and again you’ll find many who went straight from alumni to employee.

The question being raised here is not one of loyalty, or coincidence. The question is whether the college simply believes that their grads are the most qualified for the job, or whether a diploma from Algonquin puts a candidate on top of the pile regardless of their qualifications or competition.

While the college’s human resources department was unable to come up with the numbers of Algonquin grads currently working as faculty or staff, it is no stretch to say that they are well represented. This fact is understandable.
Algonquin boasts highly of the fact that amongst its graduates there is a high rate of employment. But isn’t that a skewed stat if the college is the one hiring so many of them? Are students simply being trained to be able to work at Algonquin?

I do not wish to make the assumption that the college is preferentially hiring its own grads or that the value of an Algonquin diploma is only at Algonquin itself. I simply aim to open a discussion about why and how Algonquin grads seem to keep finding themselves back at the college – in front of the class or behind the desk.

The college faces a dilemma when looking to staff a position. If the position, for example, is one in which the college offers training and they look elsewhere for candidates to fill the position, what is it saying about the college’s faith in their own programs and the job readiness of their own graduates?

On the other hand, if the college were to favour their own graduates and look exclusively at a pool of former students, this raises issues of discrimination, and ultimately begs the question of whether or not the most qualified candidate was given a chance at the job. This balancing act is a difficult one.

As far as the college is concerned, the playing field is level.

“As far as hiring preference, it’s a uniform standard for all who apply to work at the college,” said Phil Gaudreau, the college’s communications officer, as well as a graduate of Algonquin’s radio broadcasting program.

There is a fine line between having confidence in the education the college is providing and ignoring other qualifications.

“You have to believe in your own product,” said David Hall, the college’s cooperative education consultant. “So if we’re doing a good job training our student’s in our public relations program or frankly any other program that does a function that we do here at the college I think we should be looking at (Algonquin grads).”

It may not just be the Algonquin diploma, but the Algonquin experience of grads that is in fact tilting the field in their favour over other similarly qualified candidates.

While students are still studying they are able to get their feet wet with the college and can turn that experience into a job at the end of their program.

For example, top Algonquin PR students like second-year Stephanie Rochefort are approached by the college while they are in school to work in the communications department of the college.

“I wanted more practical experience and I thought it would be a great opportunity, especially working for the school,” said Rochefort. “Firstly, it’s convenient, and secondly, I think Algonquin is pretty great because they are awesome to me.”

Hall took advantage of a similar opportunity while studying at Algonquin.

Upon graduating, his familiarity with the college allowed him to take a full time position as the communications officer, before moving to his current position.

Obviously, hiring a grad does offer the opportunity to talk to their past teachers at the college and find out about them and their fit for the job.

“It’s a wise decision because that person comes in with a two-year experience of the college from a student perspective,” said Hall. “From a business perspective they are a satisfied customer. They got their education and now they have a career, and that’s why we all go to college right?”

Is it the college’s job to satisfy its students after graduation?

If so Algonquin will become a dumping ground for those grads who couldn’t cut it outside the protected walls of Woodroffe.

Walking the fine line of supporting grads while getting the best possible teacher or staffer for future students is a delicate process, one which deserves a review at Algonquin.