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Ministry of Education, Training and Employment Senior Systems Administrator Lance Barnes (left) with summer interns Jeremy O'Sullivan, Olin Monteith and Shirley Rivers.

Published 15th August 2011, 12:22pm

This summer the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment has engaged nine interns as part of government's student employment programme. But three in particular are helping the ministry's information technology (IT) team prepare for the new school year.
Jeremy O'Sullivan, Olin Monteith and Shirley Rivers all have an interest in computers and as such, have been furthering their education and experience in the field.
They've been working alongside Senior Systems Administrators Lance Barnes, Shanalyn Barnes, Drew Connolly and Richard Bodden to ensure that the education network is ready for the 2011-2012 school year.
Jeremy O'Sullivan, who enters his senior year at Michigan Technological University this September, has interned with the ministry for the last three summers. He says he's learned a lot about the ethical side of a technician's work, and about the trust and confidentiality issues which accompany some areas of the job.
But more importantly he loves the consistent experience the opportunity has offered him. "In this field you can have all the qualifications you need," he says, "but it's experience that will get you that first job."
Olin Monteith, who recently completed his associate's degree in IT at the University College of the Cayman Islands, will be heading to Illinois' Quincy University next month, to earn his bachelor's.
He notes that the internship has helped him gain a better understanding of the technology field, but it's the opportunity to apply his theoretical knowledge in the real world that he values most.
The youngest in the group, Shirley Rivers, says the experience has taught him to think on his feet. "There's not always a script to solve the issues we face," he explains. "So you really just have to take each challenge as it comes."
This is his second year as an IT intern with the ministry, and he now awaits his Year 11 external examination results before he'll know for sure what the new school year holds. But regardless, he's certain it will have something to do with computers.
According to Senior Systems Administrator Lance Barnes, the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment has the second-largest computer network in the Cayman Islands. More than 2,000 PCs are connected to the system.
With limited permanent staff, the interns play an integral role in helping his unit prepare all PCs for the new school year. Specifically, they are tasked with tagging computers that display operational problems, those that need replacing, and troubleshooting other general IT problems.
They also install new software, most of which is purchased during the summer months, onto new and existing PCs.
Overall Mr. Barnes is optimistic that the experience will help the interns when they begin their job search. He adds, "Hopefully, we can hire some of the interns later on. But if not, we've at least given them a start with some experience."