By ERIC MURPHY
Nov. 2, 2006
The office administration skills lab at Conestoga College is the only one of its kind throughout Ontario 's college system.
The model office provides students of the office administration program with the opportunity to gain work experience before they enter the workforce.
Sylvia Holmes, an office administration professor in the School of Business and Hospitality, first set up a similar lab in the Middle East and thought Conestoga students could benefit from such a concept.
"The lab is like a professional office with all the equipment required to do a professional job,” said Holmes. "Students who participate in the model office will have two more years of work experience than most office administration grads from other colleges.”
Second-year office administration students can opt to become office managers in the office to help and train first-year students in the course and monitor their work flow to make sure they meet deadlines.
"With this experience we learn what it's like dealing with conflict, working with people and things like filing systems before we even enter the work field, said Nicole Self, a second-year office administration student. "It really builds all aspects of your confidence.”
Second-year office administration student, Melanie Marriott, believes that students can only benefit from the model office experience.
"The whole thing is an excellent experience,” said Marriott. "The teachers are great, it provides the opportunity for possible letters of reference, it looks great on a resume and it really prepares everyone for future jobs.”
Trish Morris, a first-year office administration student, said the office administration skills lab is the reason why she chose Conestoga.
"I looked at three other colleges that offered the same course but Conestoga was the only one that offered the experience of the model office,” said Morris. "The hands-on work experience definitely gives Conestoga office admin. grads a step-up over other graduating students from similar programs.”
Morris said the atmosphere in the skills lab is friendly and personable but also professional.