Envision North takes vision online

Envision North logged on last week for the launch of its newest addition that will connect it to other practice firms across the globe: a webcam.
Envision North, which is sponsored by Confederation College, is part of a country-wide initiative to help people who are out of work—either after finishing school or for those on Employment Insurance—gain practical experience by working for a mock company.
The addition of webcams will enable the participants to have online video- conferences with their “clients” via MSN Messenger as well as to communicate with other practice firms in a more personal manner.
Last Tuesday, they logged on and spent 10 minutes working out a few glitches in order to chat with a practice firm in the Ottawa area, which was the first one of its kind to open.
There are now 45 other practice firms in Canada and about 4,000 worldwide that work with each other in various mock exercises.
Cathy Emes, the operations manager here, is enthusiastic about the webcams, and is anxious for the participants to gain further computer and communication experience.
“We’re just going to try out the technology,” Emes said as they fiddled with the audio controls to reduce the feedback. “Then we’ll make a video to send to all the practice firms that purchased from us during our virtual trade fair.”
Melissa Hinrichs has been a participant with Envision North for about two months now and is excited to add video-conferencing to her technological portfolio.
“I think it will allow us to have greater flexibility in our communication skills,” she said. “It will be neat to see some of the people that we’ve been dealing with instead of just a piece of paper.”
Hinrichs started the program after finishing her Business Administration degree at Northern College. Though she was confident in her textbook knowledge, she did not have any practical experience.
So participating in a fictitious business not only gives her that practical experience, but she also can list it as work experience on her résumé.
Shirley Gadd also is a participant, and for the last three months has been honing her computer and business skills.
“When I started here, I knew nothing about computers—I didn’t even know how to turn one on!” said Gadd. “So this [webcam] is a totally new experience and I’m excited about it.”
With the glitches finally worked out, both audio and video were now working. A face appeared on the screen and from the speaker comes the voice of Denis Ippersiel in Ottawa.
“Hi, Envision North. How are you today?”
The participants and staff cheer.
“Hi, Ottawa! We can see you!” they answered.