Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Learning Term or Work Term?

I've wrapped up nearly all of the Site Visits for the Summer work-term. There're amazing changes and growth going on at all levels for our students. Whether it's a senior student contemplating Stage Two of their working career or to return for more studies, through the first work-term students who are experiencing a variety of businesses and experiences, there're good things happening.

I often try to stimulate an employer and student to think of the work-term as a learning term, instead. Not in the sense of an Academic term, in class, in labs, tied to the campus. But, as a chance to develop professionally and to identify and build their capabilities. Ultimately, to record and portray their new abilities and confidences in the form of their updated resume.

What supports this sort of thinking about the work-term is that even when a student is not fully challenged, they can still learn from the current experience and then push their envelope, with diplomacy, and see what more can be achieved at that workplace. Who benefits? The student. Who else? The next student. What does it say about our University and the Co-op program? Volumes. It's the initiative that is remembered, after the term is over.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Letterman and Productivity

This is for Co-op students on work-terms who are wondering about their productivity. There's a fun little piece that's been circulated that puts "how to be successful on your work-term" in a Letterman count-down format. It talks to things like, finding a mentor, being a sponge (for learning), etc. If you haven't seen it, contact your Coordinator or let me know (brwilson@)'s both funny and encouraging.

I wanted to put one of those points in perspective as a way to encourage your success. I visited a student at a bank, who was working on some project-based opportunities. She's been very productive and I think you'd attribute it to, I certainly did, her capabilities for one, her interest in succeeding, and her manager's support for finding new challenges.

Think about're capable, you want to accomplish things, and if you've established a good working rapport with your manager, you should have their support to do more.

It's capability and initiative.

Have a great work-term.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Work-terms in Germany

I've just finished the third of three Site Visits with Co-op students who are working in Germany. They went over on the RISE ( program, which is typically for Science and Engineering students.

My observations are that the students have changed their lives. They're now more aware of other cultures and more interested in where their lives and careers go, from an international perspective.

Yes, they get to travel...duh! They're doing a great job of creating photo essays and keeping journals, too. This is the legacy of what they've done.

The jobs themselves, overall, are relatively challenging not least of all because they're relatively short duration...90 days, typically. Will they learn alot? Yes...everyone learns a tonne in the first 30 days, no matter what you're doing or for how long.

It's great. Consider it. Check out RISE.

Assistant Director
Co-operative Education and Career Services
University of Guelph