GAME CHANGERS: REDspace wins Best Youth Employer and Experiential Learning Awards, Medium Business Category

January 9, 2019

REDspace is a full-service digital studio specializing in mobile, web, video, and gaming solutions for global media brands and networks. For over 18 years, the company has provided new ways for its clients to deliver interactive experiences to its users around the world. REDspace was the recipient of two awards, the Best Youth Employer and Experiential Learning Awards in the Medium Business Category, at the 2018 Game Changers Awards Gala.

REDspace gives youth employees opportunities to lead projects and work with world-class clients including Turner, Sony Pictures, and Viacom. Their interns have a 98% job placement rate following the end of their work terms, internships, or co-op placements.

Mike Johnston, President & CEO of REDspace, shares how experiential learning students and youth employees continue to add value and help the company grow.

What has been the biggest benefit of hiring students for your business?

Their energy and passion. Because they are new to the industry and workforce, they aren’t afraid of new obstacles and challenging the status quo. Youth haven’t spent years figuring out all the reasons something can’t be done. They ask, “why not?”.

 

What is something you have learned from your students?

We hire people who are so passionate about the work we do and problems we solve for our clients, that they go above and beyond to master their craft and are excited to share that knowledge with the rest of the team. New grads bring with them new methodologies and programming techniques. Through our peer code reviews, both senior and junior team members learn from each other and are challenged to see things differently.

 

How does your company take advantage of Halifax’s many post-secondary institutions?

We have access to a large pool of passionate and talented students here in Nova Scotia thanks to the density of universities and colleges, focused in topical areas like big data, machine learning, and cyber security. We’ve embraced experiential learning programs because we believe the best way to learn is by doing. It also helps spread the word about the opportunities in our industry. Many youth employees start at REDspace through some manner of internship. We treat that as a competitive process, because we want to invest in the best potential. That model works – we have a 98% success rate of hiring interns into full-time roles.

What has been the biggest benefit of hiring young professionals for your business?

The tech industry is always changing. Because of this, we need to be ahead of the change in order to best serve our clients. We need forward thinking – not just how to do current things better, but how to do completely new things. Growing up with technology puts young people at an advantage for the type of work we do. Young professionals have an endless amount of energy and are eager to learn, solve problems, and contribute ideas. As with most things in life, a diverse blend is the best formula. Without youth at REDspace, the recipe just isn’t right. A third of our team is under 30, and in the last three years nearly half of the people we’ve hired have been youth. It’s a recipe that works well for us.

Our goal is to reach net zero loss of youth aged 20-29 (retaining all youth), what would that mean for Halifax? What does that mean to you?

Given that such a large percentage of our team is under 30, as well as our long history of hiring interns right out of school, we understand how important young people are to our growing business community. In order to see continued growth, however, it’s our job as to give them a reason to stay.

Through programs like Game Changers, we are shining a light on the value young people offer as well as the countless opportunities for them to start their careers in our region. Also, by retaining and building a younger workforce, they will subsequently help attract other young people to our region by showing that it’s a vibrant place to work, live, and play.

 

What advice do you have for businesses who are considering hiring youth?

Keep an open mind. They might not come with a broad depth of experience but if you embrace their fresh perspective and enthusiasm, your company will be better for it.

The fact of the matter is, we were all new and starting out once. Someone gave a us a shot. Pay that forward.

 

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The Game Changers Awards recognize exceptional Halifax businesses and Connectors that hire youth, provide meaningful experiential learning opportunities and connect young professionals to opportunities in their field. The 2018 Game Changers Awards Gala took place on October 17. Nine awards were presented.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Game Changers Youth Retention Action Plan.