Nov. 9, 2018
Seneca 360 pairs students with non-profits
Clients have included Olympic figure skating stars
When Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir needed to revamp their website before competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the Canadian ice dance darlings found an unlikely partner in Seneca.
Enter Wilson Kwong, a student in the Computer Engineering Technology program, and his professor, Peter Moscone, who had collaborated with the figure skating gold medallists previously.
The arrangement was simple: Seneca paid Kwong for his work, which was overseen by Moscone, and a few months later Virtue and Moir launched their new website at no cost to them.
“It went live and it has been seen by people from around the world. It’s pretty amazing,” said Kwong, who didn’t follow figure skating and had no idea who Virtue and Moir were at the time. “It was my first project and because of that experience, I’m currently working for an IT consulting company. And I’m still just a student — I haven’t graduated yet!”
The Virtue and Moir website was one of 11 pilot projects taken on by Seneca 360, a new initiative launched recently. It gives not-for-profit organizations access to a broad range of quality services provided by Seneca students and grads and overseen by professors.
The service is free for the not-for-profits and Seneca pays the students and grads who complete the work. During the pilot phase, 17 students were paid more than $20,000 for providing more than $68,000 worth of work based on industry standard rates.
“There’s a need to interconnect schools like Seneca with non-profits that are looking to have quality work done while being able to allocate their resources elsewhere,” said Moscone, Managing Director of Seneca 360 and a professor in the School of Electronics & Mechanical Engineering Technology.
He says students and grads are hand-selected based on their expertise and skills set, and they work on a project basis that is different from co-op and not within the curriculum.
“They take ownership of everything and they are responsible for the project,” Moscone said.
Nicole Zikovitz, who graduated from the Business Administration – Marketing and Social Media programs, was selected by Seneca 360 to create and execute a social media campaign for a cooking competition benefiting the Massey Centre.
“The experience was extremely valuable when you are just starting out,” said Zikovitz, now working full time as a social media specialist for an ad agency. “The client really valued my insight as an expert of the field and I got to build relations with potential employers in the industry.”
Tim Lai agrees. A graduate of the Art Fundamentals, Independent Illustration and Webmaster programs, he worked on a complete website redesign and overhaul for Gold Medal Plates, now Canada’s Great Kitchen Party.
“It was my first real big project and it was the most challenging in terms of the scale,” Lai said. “It was a great experience and a great thing to have on your resumé.”
Through Seneca 360, Lai worked directly with Karen Blair, Co-founder of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, to create a more polished, professional and current look for their website.
“As most individuals and companies are stretched already, it’s hard to find people and organizations able to assist,” Blair said. “Without the resources or internal talent, we are constantly seeking outside talent who will be willing to give pro bono time or deep discounts on their skills in order for us to maximize our reach and impact.”
As for Lai, he still works with the organization today. “Now they are paying me and they are one of my most regular clients,” he said.