Student Success

Students continue to build work experience despite pandemic restrictions

As the world of business adapts to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, so too are University of Lethbridge students who continue to engage in work-integrated learning activities as they prepare to transition from academic to professional careers.

Ty Makarowski, a fifth-year neuroscience major, has participated in independent and applied studies and is currently working as a co-op student.

Career Bridge: Centre for Work-Integrated Learning and Career Development documented a total of 65,937 work-integrated learning placement hours logged by U of L students during the Fall 2020 semester. Pandemic or not, students were still able to work with a multitude of businesses locally, provincially and nationally through a variety of co-op and applied study positions.

“In many ways it was challenging but our employer partners were extremely flexible and innovative,” says the University’s Mark Slomp, executive director of Student Services. “Students want to engage in work-integrated learning, even if the majority of the work is in a remote setting. In fact, it added another layer of learning to many of their experiences and showed how essential the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is in today’s world.”

Career Bridge focuses on increasing opportunities for all students, including developing personal and professional competencies as well as providing tools and resources to support and track curricular and co-curricular accomplishments via an experiential transcript. The MyExperience Transcript (MET) complements the academic transcript and is designed to reflect a student’s curricular and co-curricular experiential learning opportunities.

In Fall 2020, 180 virtual events and workshops were offered, managed or hosted in the MyExperience calendar with 2,722 unique student registrations. Students want to begin their transition to a professional career as early as possible and are eager to utilize the platform.

“I started my post-secondary career mostly focused on just completing my courses, but I’ve learned that employers are looking for students who have participated in rich experiential learning outside the classroom as well,” says Nicholas Canning, a fourth-year student studying human resource management and industrial labour relations in the Dhillon School of Business. “MyExperience has helped me gain this kind of experience, track my participation and reflect on the skills I’ve developed and the ways in which I have grown personally and professionally.”

Ty Makarowski, a fifth-year neuroscience major, has participated in independent and applied studies and is currently working as a co-op student, activities he can now add to his MET. He says by adding an experiential record to his academic transcript, he can show future employers the breadth of his university experience and better articulate the wide range of skills he brings to the labour market.

“The independent study opportunities allowed me to gain first-hand skills in a laboratory setting, and I’m currently in the process of co-authoring a scientific paper for publication,” he says. “My applied study gave me the opportunity to work alongside a neuropsychologist and assist with report writing and patient assessments.”

Makarowski adds the MET will give him a certified record of this activity and a leg up when he transitions to a professional career.

“The MyExperience Transcript offers me the ability to document not only my experiences outside the classroom, but also highlight some of the soft skills and technical skills I have gained throughout my undergraduate program,” he says. “I genuinely feel as though having a verified account of my experiences sets me apart from students who do not have any additional experience outside their core requirements.”