Online Learning + Field Placement = Get Job-Ready
Real-world experience helps online students become even more career-ready at graduation.
If you think that a downside of taking a course or program online is that you cannot do a placement or co-op, there's good news: many online programs offer placements just the same as they would in an in-class setting.
With that myth busted, let's look at some of the advantages of placements as a fast track to career readiness, with the help of AC Online's Field Placement Officer Diana Al Jarrah:
Q: How do AC Online field placements work?
A: Depending on the program, placements can be interspersed with the classroom learning or happen in the final semester of the program.
In the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, for example, students undertake three placements, one earlier in their program, one in the middle and one at the end. In the first one, you're shadowing your supervisor, in the second you take on more responsibilities, and in the third you're in charge of the classroom, with your supervisor providing backup. Such approaches allow learners to grow confidence, and balance the theory they are learning from the classroom with practicing their skills in their ECE setting. This experience also helps learners see how practitioners operate in the profession, and make contacts.
In other programs, such as Addictions and Mental Health, which provides a 12-week work experience, you might do your entire placement at the end of the term. That gives you a longer timeframe to get to know a particular workplace, find mentors and practice a range of skills.
Q: How do AC Online students find their placements?
A: Besides a variety of placement lengths, there are also a range of ways that students are connected with a placement: some are organized by the program whereas others are arranged by the students and sometimes a mix of each is possible.
Q: What's the benefit of a field placement?
A: In today's competitive job market, hands-on experience in your field can make you seriously stand out as a job candidate, and you'll gain confidence for interviewing when you can say you've already had relevant experience.
Some students are even hired directly by their placement, and at minimum they gain a great reference and experience for their resumés. These placements also allow you to test out the field. For example, a Community Justice Services student was sure about their career direction when entering their program, only to discover it wasn't for them.
This student only ever wanted to do their placement at a correctional facility, but in doing so, realized they wanted to work in a group home instead.
Q: What's a common myth that you encounter in relation to field placement?
A: That many potential students believe that you must do a placement in the city where your physical campus or your program resides. This is untrue. With even more students enrolling in online programs internationally, we've seen many of our students complete placements where they live.
For example, a Community and Justice student recently completed their placement in Taiwan, and an ECE student completed a placement in Dubai! Of course, those placements can be closer to Algonquin as well. For example, many students have also taken the course and completed their placement in Toronto.
Q: Are there any additional requirements needed to qualify for field placement?
A: Some programs also require that the students meet the medical standards of their field whenever they start their placement (for example a Hepatitis B shot is required for work in ECE), ensuring that they are "workplace ready" when they start their job search upon graduation.
Now that you know placements are possible with online programs, your next step is to check out one of AC Online's programs that offer field placements and start planning your next career step!
Check out AC Online programs with field placements