Open Polytechnic qualification gives IT worker computer industry knowledge

Alisha Stikkelman
  • NZ2595 : New Zealand Certificate in Information Technology (Level 5)
  • Service Desk Engineer at Computer Concepts Limited (CCL)

Service Desk Engineer Alisha Stikkelman credits her study towards the New Zealand Certificate in Information Technology (Level 5) for providing her with the learning platform she needs to work in the IT industry.

The 25-year-old, who had previously worked in a café and as a customer service representative, started studying online with Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga in 2021, in order to help her land her dream role in the technology sector.

Alisha’s role in the IT industry

Alisha works as a service desk engineer in the Dunedin-based office of Computer Concepts Limited (CCL).

“The New Zealand Certificate in Information Technology gives you a really broad sense of how technology works,” Alisha said.

“I think having the base to start with, whether you are going into your bachelor’s degree or going into work is really important, because it allows you to understand how things work, even if you don’t understand that specific thing."

“It makes it easier to pick up on things and understand IT in general.”

Alisha has always had a strong love of technology but didn’t have a formal IT qualification until she enrolled at Open Polytechnic.

“Ever since I was growing up, I enjoyed being around computers, so I thought getting into the technology sector was the right move,” she said.

Alisha started with the New Zealand Certificate in Information Technology (Level 5) because she thought it would be good to immerse herself to a small extent, to see if it was what she wanted to do.

“After that I definitely decided that it was what I wanted to do so that is why I continue to study at Open Polytechnic,” she said.

Studies help cement workplace knowledge

Alisha works as a service desk engineer, which requires her to do a lot of systems administration.

She finds that her Open Polytechnic study helped her “cement” things that she was learning or coming across whilst working.

“It is great being able to walk into a service desk engineer’s or help desk role, already knowing how to patch something through a switch, or just being able to have that base knowledge so that when you come across it in real life you can say ‘I remember that or it might be similar to this’,” she said.

Alisha finds the networking she learned as part of the Fundamentals of Information Technology course she completed for the certificate, particularly relevant to her daily tasks.

“We do a lot of managing profiles, users and computers through active local directories and a number of other applications.”

“We manage every aspect of the client’s IT including emails coming in and out, also hardware.”

“So, knowing how to set up a computer and which cables to plug in and basic networking things like switches and patching, general troubleshooting and fixing things is really important.”

Alisha found the same course provided her with an excellent overview, as part of the NZ Certificate in IT.

“It introduced you to how the internet works, how everything is connected, and gets around,” she said.

“It gives you that really basic knowledge of how technology works and provides you with a bit of a base for you to build on that either through work experience or further studies.”

Flexibility of distance learning

Alisha chose Open Polytechnic, so she could continue working in the technology industry while studying and developing her knowledge at the same time.

“That is why it was really convenient for me to study by distance,” she said.

“I chose Open Polytechnic because they are one of the biggest organisations in the country which focusses solely on distance learning. This means that the learning management system that we use to study through iQualify is really good and easy to follow along with.”

Alisha found Open Polytechnic supportive, especially when balancing full-time work and having a family and studying.

“It would quite often get hard to meet assignment deadlines, but Open Polytechnic are really good at extending those out if you have work/life stress,” she said.

“It was great to have that to not feel under as much pressure to get things done in a sufficient amount of time and to a standard that I was happy with as well.”

She says the tutors are really helpful and reply promptly when she had a question.

“I mean I didn’t reach out to them much, because I am quite a self-sufficient learner, but the tutors were there to support and reply in a timely manner,” she said.

As a processes-orientated learner, Alisha enjoys the mixture of flexibility and structure provided by Open Polytechnic.

“I think Open Polytechnic provides enough flexibility that you are able to mould your study around your life. But not too much flexibility. It has enough structure to allow you to strive, learn and achieve rather than just leaving you for a year and saying, ‘Here’s a year’s worth of work’.”

Future ambitions

Having completed her certificate studies, Alisha is now studying towards the NZ Diploma in Web Development and Design (Level 5). She aims to finish it in 2024.

She will then look to complete the Bachelor of Information Technology (Level 7).

Thinking of the future, Alisha would really like to develop websites.

“I guess my dream would probably be some kind of development role someday probably in software or website-based software,” she said.

“I quite like to draw myself to software applications, online applications and ones that have processes. Ideally that is what I would like to do eventually.”

Encouraging others to study through Open Polytechnic

According to Alisha, find something you are passionate about studying and just follow that passion.

“Open Polytechnic is very practical for those that want to develop skills that they want to use in the workplace,” she said.

“You can work alongside developing those skills and slowly climb up the ranks at your job.”

“I think people should never stop learning you should always be looking for something to build on or learn.”

I think Open Polytechnic provides enough flexibility that you are able to mould your study around your life.