A New Way to Gain Work Experience Before Graduation
Every student who graduates from every program at Capilano University has a goal: starting a career.
Metro Vancouver’s spiraling costs of living combined with a tightening job market means new graduates need to be set up for success. Capilano University (CapU) stands behind its graduates by offering a suite of practical and work-integrated learning (WIL) options.
The previous model for work-integrated learning was limited, with post-secondary institutions partnering with industry or community connections to arrange co-ops and internships for students. A new model was needed. “Traditional forms of WIL — such as co-ops, practicums, work experience, and internships — already exist in the Schools of Business & Professional Studies, Tourism Management, Outdoor Recreation Management, Legal Studies, Motion Picture Arts and Education & Childhood Studies.”
Baichoo is part of the WIL Co-Lab, a committee made up of staff and faculty champions from across the University’s five faculties. The Co-Lab has a three-year road map to enhance the WIL opportunities for students across CapU, which is directly tied to the University’s Envisioning 2030 strategic plan and Illuminating 2030 academic plan.
The goal is ensuring the students who participate are receiving a distinct university experience — one that can only be achieved at CapU. “We are encouraging faculty to explore and embed applied research, curricular community service learning, field studies and other innovative forms of WIL.” Those other forms can include short-term placements, virtual internships, hackathons, business cases, and classroom projects spearheaded by students to help their communities.
Kick-starting a career with vital business experience
These hands-on settings can help accelerate a WIL student’s progress toward a new career. Ashika Eldhose, a student in the North American Business Management Applied Post-Baccalaureate diploma program, was searching for an opportunity directly related to her program, known as a curricular opportunity. She was able to get a strong start with a work placement as an administrative clerk at Glentel, which operates retail sales for companies including WirelessWave, WIRELESS etc., and Tbooth Wireless.
“It was an opportunity to enhance my adaptability, critical thinking, interpersonal, and organizational skills,” she said. “Our weekly meetings helped me keep track of my performance and the responsibilities I needed to focus on.”
Eldhose graduated in May and was hired by Glentel after completing her practicum and has worked there nearly a year. “My practicum was a ladder to my career goal,” she said. “It’s been really a hands-on experience for me [and] I have learned a lot.”
Curricular opportunities can include:
- Applied research roles
- Clinical internships
- Curricular community service learning
- Co-op placements
- Field placements
- Practicum or clinical placements
- Standard work experience terms
Staying close to home and thriving
There are also co-curricular opportunities for CapU students looking to gain work experience in an area around their program. Jugad Dodd, a third-year Bachelor of Business Administration student, was looking for ways to apply the fundamental skills gained in his BBA to real-world settings and started work as a research assistant at CapU.
Students who choose research assistantships play a transformative role in advancing the work of faculty members and their departments. Working as a research assistant also allows students to work closely with instructors on community-based projects and develop the research skills to boost their performance in the classroom.
“It was a great experience. I felt welcomed by the CapU community and applied what I learned throughout my studies,” he said. “I was involved in a variety of projects which helped me understand how the University makes some important decisions.”
“The idea of doing work that will be implemented in an education setting is one of the major factors that differentiated this experience from other work experience terms.”
Co-curricular opportunities can include:
- Paraprofessional roles supporting other students
- Research assistantships
- Post-credential internships
- Community service learning
- Volunteering, work-study terms
- Other on-campus employment
Baichoo agrees. A key component of WIL at CapU is being able to take the knowledge students gain from their placements and turn it into functional skills to apply in the workplace after graduation. “[WIL] leads to development of self-confidence, soft skills, and improving their employment prospects through networking.”
“Regardless of the WIL type, students who engage in this type of learning will be able to apply concepts/theories learned in classrooms to the world,” Baichoo said. “WIL prepares students with skills and experience needed to be successful in their work and their lives.”
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