Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) students can offer so much to your small business, whether it’s taking on a one-off research project, developing a safety plan or user manual, managing your social media channels, handling accounting duties, plus so much more.
At the Association for Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning BC/Yukon (ACE-WIL), we often hear about how businesses have benefitted from hiring students.
But don’t take our word for it. Read on to hear directly from employers and students about how students positively contributed to various businesses and the types of roles they played in achieving this.
How WIL Students Help Small Businesses
The past year has impacted businesses in untold ways, and the wedding industry was just one of many that felt its negative effects. Camosun College co-op student Chloe worked for a small event-planning and production company and easily adapted to the shift towards planning small versus large weddings. She was able to take on various communications duties, such as managing their social media accounts and writing for their blog, opportunities she would not have otherwise had the chance to experience.
Responding to the impacts of the pandemic, three international students completed a mandatory practicum as a part of their Global Hospitality and Tourism program at Capilano University. Together, they conducted research to explore various tourism opportunities in particular areas and created an inventory of helpful resources.
Arslan, an international student studying Media Arts at the University of the Fraser Valley, successfully completed an internship where he was able to combine his previous project management skills with the design and technical skills learned throughout his degree. He worked on numerous external and internal communications projects, including publications, blog posts, website redesigns, social media posts and video releases.
Working for a small high-tech company, University of British Columbia-Okanagan student Will was able to help show how different products his employer built were actually performing in the field, using data analysis techniques and visualization tools to create dashboards for several teams. These dashboards featured important metrics in a visual way that made them easy to understand and helped the business gain valuable insights to guide decisions about improvements.
As an Interactive Arts & Technology student studying at Simon Fraser University, Anna was able to put her design skills to use working at a local start-up. During her first month, she designed a set of presentation deck templates for use within the company, and she saw her coworkers, department leads, and CEO make use of them throughout her eight months of working there. In her own words, while “it was a simple project. . . I received feedback from coworkers that it was easy to use and decreased their workload.”
Ray from Selkirk College spent four months working as a GIS Data Analyst, helping forestry businesses become more innovative in quantifying the volume and biomass of wood residue by using drones and GIS.
Khusbu, a Royal Roads University student in the Master of Global Management program, completed an internship for an employer who commented that she “wore multiple hats, from a market researcher, a marketing campaign associate, a video analyst, to a blog writer. She also became a strategist when she developed and implemented an agent engagement strategy” for the organization.
Douglas College student Saveen was hired on by a Lower Mainland robotics firm as a supply chain planner. As part of her duties she was able to create a detailed user manual for the software, as well as a step-by-step guide for the Finance department, both of which helped in preventing future errors from occurring.
As part of a Selkirk College Applied Research Project on rural climate resilience, Alexandra hoped to encourage household emergency preparedness in various communities throughout BC. She reached out to local influential leaders through e-mail and Zoom and then using social media and community-based social marketing, she was able to successfully convince three pilot communities to make emergency evacuation plans and build home preparedness kits.
Another employer hired a University of British Columbia-Okanagan Computing Science Co-op student as a Web Developer to support an idea for a web application at the workplace. Although direction for him was not always clear, he made significant progress with little-to-no support from the ideation stage to an actual web application. He exceeded all expectations from the group and after leaving the project, the employer continued to receive excellent feedback on the work he completed.
A Vancouver Island-based insurance company hired Royal Roads University MBA international student, Anil, for an accounting internship, in which they excelled. The supervisor commented that Anil “quickly exceeded our expectations in a challenging industry and demonstrated sound initiatives to improve our processes and procedures. As a CPA, I have trained and supervised many employees over 30 years, and this ‘student’ is probably the sharpest one I have had the pleasure to work with.”
Working for a local company that makes an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic wrap, University of Victoria Business Co-op student Nichole’s supervisor remarked that while she had hired students previously, this student in particular was exceptional. She worked incredibly hard every day and, very quickly, her personality shone through. She brought an entirely new perspective to the business and the people on the team and used her skills to positively push her supervisor to create and do things that her small business would not have done otherwise. She was innovative, creative and helped them think of new possibilities every day.
Find Out More
These are just some of the many ways that WIL students can contribute to your small business. To get started, visit the ACE-WIL website for tips and resources to learn more about what a WIL student can do for you.