Stories of Support & Inspiration

CEWIL Canada is showcasing strong institutional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

#WILFROMHOME | ACE-WIL

Maria Tarasyuk

  • Hi, my name is Maria and I’m currently doing a Co-op as a Special Projects Assistant with SFU Communication Co-op. I bet none of us expected it was coming: all of a sudden there were no morning commutes, no more walks to Renaissance Coffee with my co-workers, and no office desk where I could start my day. Working from home happens to be our new reality now. I faced many unexpected challenges while setting into this new routine. Figuring out new ways for effective communication with my coworkers while staying sane is now on my agenda. My team and I figured that I’m not the only student struggling while undergoing the shift. So here I am, sharing some sources that helped me make my hectic reality a bit more manageable and enjoyable. Read more here

Mary Ziel Boncajes

  • With the onset of COVID-19, WIL students across the province have had to make the transition to working from home. It’s a difficult time for them, given many are not able to work from home, are unsure about if they should return home not, or suddenly find themselves with unexpected financial hardship. To support those students, ACE-WIL has put together a COVID FAQ for students and employers. All the information that we know at this time about helping students and employers through the pandemic is available there. It also links to the COVID-19 information pages of all of ACE-WIL’s member institutions. For those of us fortunate enough to have jobs we can continue to perform from home, we have the #WILFromHome Series. The #WILFromHome series shows how students and their supervisors are overcoming the challenges presented by working from home. Read more here

Lauren Frost

  • Due to COVID-19, WIL students across the province have had to make the transition to working from home. It’s a difficult time for WIL students, many of whom are not able to work from home, are unsure about if they should return home not, or suddenly find themselves with unexpected financial hardship. For those students ACE-WIL has put together a COVID FAQ for students and employers. All the information that we know at this time about helping students and employers through the pandemic is available there. It also links to the COVID-19 information pages of all of ACE-WIL’s member institutions. For those of us fortunate enough to have jobs we can continue to perform from home we have the #WILFromHome Series. The #WILFromHome series shows how students and their supervisors are overcoming the challenges presented by working from home. Read more here

Dalhousie University

Working Abroad From Home

  • It’s been said that the only constant is change, a statement that feels all the more relevant in the midst of an unfolding global pandemic.Seeking a personal opportunity for change, Kirsten Richard approached Dal’s Science, Information Technology, Engineering (SITE) co-op office in the fall of 2019 to learn more about opportunities for working abroad.The Computer Science co-op student was looking for ways to explore the world, and decided that her next work term would be the perfect time to satisfy a sense of wanderlust while also gaining co-op experience. Read more here

Charging Ahead with Summer Co-Op

  • Jack deGooyer was more than enthusiastic to learn he’d be spending the summer in California, and even more excited that he’d be going there to work for Tesla at their Palo Alto headquarters for his third and final co-op work term. Getting to this point had been the culmination of “months and years of planning and work” for the fourth year electrical engineering student, who describes the opportunity as his “dream co-op job”. Read more here

Bibi Roozing

  • Two degrees, two continents and one International Food Business (IFB) program.

    Bibi Roozing from ‘t Veld in the Netherlands was a third-year IFB student on the Agricultural Campus preparing for her Canadian work term in April when the Coronavirus pandemic saw she and her classmates moving home March 18th.

    “I was soooooo disappointed,” explained Bibi.  “I was supposed to do my internship at the Manorun Organic Farm and learn about their permaculture practices. I was so excited to work and live on the farm and meet new people,” she added.

    The International Food Business program is a unique opportunity for students who are interested in understanding the global food industry from the farm gate to the consumer's plate. This one-of-a-kind program at the Faculty of Agriculture awards students two degrees within the standard four years of study: A Bachelor of Business Administration from Aeres University in the Netherlands and a Bachelor of Agriculture in International Food Business from Dalhousie. Read more here

Opportunity in the midst of lockdown

  • For many people, the lockdown brought on by COVID-19 in March 2020 meant working from home, learning from home and generally putting life on hold. For co-op students like Shakshita Sookrauj, the pandemic meant that the meaningful work experience she had been gaining at a local accounting firm ended early. But thanks to outreach from the government of Nova Scotia, Sookrauj and several of her commerce student colleagues got a new opportunity: helping to evaluate the province’s Small Business Impact grant. Read more here

York University

York U business students help Toronto businesses go online to fight impacts of COVID-19

  • Students from York University’s Schulich School of Business will help small businesses struggling due to the impacts of COVID-19 quickly gear up for online commerce. The students will participate in the City of Toronto’s Digital Main Street (DMS) ShopHERE program, a major new initiative that is supported by a team of leading global technology companies committed to helping Toronto's main street retailers survive the COVID-19 crisis. Read more here

Workplace experiences for York students are alive and well during COVID-19

  • Offices may be closed, but workplace experiences for York University students are still thriving during COVID-19, said Danielle Robinson, an associate professor at York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) and director of the University’s Capstone Network. Read more here.

Wilfrid Laurier University 

  • Laurier’s Enactus team was named overall national champion at the Enactus Canada National Exposition on May 29 and will go on to represent Canada at the Enactus World Cup, planned to take place virtually from the Netherlands from Sept. 8 to 10.... Last week, Laurier Enactus’s Waterloo team presented two of their ventures, EarthSuds and Last20, in the Scotiabank Climate Change Challenge and was named the national champion. EarthSuds was also named the national champion in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge. EarthSuds, co-founded by Laurier BBA co-op students Marissa Vettoretti and Daniel Moll, produces single-use shampoo, conditioner and body wash tablets to eliminate the need for plastic toiletry bottles. The venture just launched its e-commerce site this past fall and its plastic-free toiletry products are now carried in over 55 retail stores across North America. Read the full article here.
  • Wilfrid Laurier University Business Technology Management student Romane Ng Yung Kiat received a sweet surprise on her doorstep from her winter-term co-op employer, Blue Link Associates Limited (Blue Link), in recognition of her exceptional workplace accomplishments as a Business and Software Documentation Guru. The company has transitioned employees to work-from-home arrangements and couldn’t celebrate Ng Yung Kiat’s job well done in-person. “Romane’s attention to detail and self-driven motivation made her an outstanding co-op student,” says Darren Myher (BBA ’96), chief technology officer at Blue Link.
  • Kassandra Roul, a Health Sciences major at Laurier, has received a grant to produce masks and ear savers. She was inspired by requests for PPE from Hamilton Health Sciences  and the Hamilton YMCA. Kassandra is  overseeing a team of three volunteers who will sew 235 masks and crochet 235 ear savers for primary healthcare workers, vulnerable adults, and at-risk children and youth. A community service grant from the Canada Service Corps Initiative will allow her to run this project as her co-op job.

Durham College

DC Journalism students put learning to work, gain real-work experience creating COVID-cation podcast

  • Faced with COVID-19-related cancellations and postponements of their field placements, six Durham College Journalism – Mass Media students decided to create their own real-work experience.

    The result is COVID-cation, a weekly podcast created by students for students. Each episode focuses on a specific theme – from education to emotional wellbeing to finances – while exploring the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on students of all ages. Working under the supervision of their professor, Danielle Harder, the team oversees all aspects of development, production and deployment of the podcast and supporting materials, allowing them to put their classroom learning to the ultimate test.

    In addition to honing their story development and audio and video skills, the students are gaining valuable real-work experience and content for their portfolios in the areas of on-air hosting, social media management, website development, online publishing and much more by doing journalism work on multiple platforms.

    Watch the Global News Durham story profiling the students behind COVID-cation. 

Sheridan College

Sheridan’s Launch of Virtual Internship Program

  • Sheridan College has developed a new program that will ensure students can continue to enjoy work-integrated learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Sheridan’s Virtual Internship Program (VIP), developed by the college’s Career-Integrated Learning (CIL) department in collaboration with Sheridan’s Faculty of Animation, Art and Design (FAAD) and Entrepreneurship Discovery and Growth Engine (EDGE) hub, provides solutions for Sheridan degree students who need or prefer an alternative to a traditional internship during the pandemic. The VIP allows participants to earn their work-term credit remotely, offers the flexibility of three different streams to choose from, features collaborative opportunities and — most importantly — positions them to have a meaningful and valuable learning experience. Read more here

University of Windsor

Engineering co-op student helps employer increase face shield production

  • Helping the Vistaprint plant in Lakeshore increase its production of face shields to send to front-line workers fighting COVID-19 was an “amazing” experience for a third-year electrical engineering student serving a co-op term with the company.

    Bogdan Gramisteanu designed a layout for the shields that optimized the number that could be cut at once, which helped the plant produce 100,000 shields a week, says manager Diane Labute.

    “Within hours he had re-programmed the equipment to produce the product,” she says. “It is refreshing to see an aspiring engineering student with an insatiable desire to learn and solve problems.” Read more here

Brock University

Brock supports student employment during pandemic

  • In a changing job landscape, Brock University’s Co-op, Career and Experiential Education (CCEE) team is taking steps to aid students and recent graduates as they seek employment.

    With industry trends shifting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Event Co-ordinator Jillian Nero said the CCEE team is putting students’ needs first as they help to navigate a virtual employment landscape and zero in on in-demand careers.

    “We understand the changes caused by the pandemic have resulted in drastic shifts to the way we work and relate to one another,” she said. “The CCEE team has been hard at work creating and distributing resources to help support students and recent graduates as they find employment while transitioning to a work-from-home environment, as well as supporting community partners/employers with their continued engagement and recruitment efforts on campus.” Read more here

DSBN students excel with Goodman service-learning project amidst pandemic

  • When the school year was interrupted in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario classrooms quickly went online.

    But for District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) high school students participating in service-learning projects offered through the Goodman School of Business at Brock University, physical distancing restrictions weren’t going to stop them from engaging in additional learning opportunities.

    Every semester, business classes from the DSBN participate in projects that partner high school students with local companies looking for change in their business. Students work with their peers to apply in-class teachings and create a viable business plan, which they present to the community partners at the end of the course.

    Earlier this year, Grade 12 students from a sports and entertainment marketing class at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in St. Catharines partnered with VR Wonderland, a virtual reality gaming centre, to create a marketing plan that would help the business cater to a new demographic at their new location in the Pen Centre mall in St. Catharines.

    When courses moved online to adhere to public health regulations for COVID-19, hands-on projects like service learning seemed impossible to run. Students were given the opportunity to stop their projects and work on assignments that were more conductive to an online environment, but many were eager to see their projects continue to the very end.

    “The self-motivation they displayed really showed they were enjoying the projects and wanted to continue, which was very moving for me as an educator,” said DSBN business teacher David Vandermolen. Read more here

Learning Lab provides online tutoring for local kids

  • Concurrent Education tutors from Brock University have been helping local children develop their literacy skills outside of their virtual classrooms.

    The Brock students were enrolled in a Reading and Literacy Development class taught by Learning Lab Administrative Coordinator and Interventionists Coordinator Paul Ferrara, Teacher Education Instructor Rachel St. Hilaire Director of the Brock Learning Lab and Professor Tiffany Gallagher.

    The course normally includes students tutoring at the Brock Learning Lab or local schools to help them put theory into practice, but with Brock courses moving online, the experiential education portion of the course moved online as well.

    For local families, the online tutoring program offered extra support for online learning at home. Read more here

Experiential education resources available for online classes

  • The shift to online learning has not stopped Brock University from delivering life-changing experiential education opportunities in every Faculty, but it has led to the creation of some new resources.

    With all Spring and Summer Term courses taking place online, the Experiential Education (EE) team took quick action to ensure instructors can continue to incorporate the experiential learning components that have made Brock University a leader in this area. To do this, the team developed a section of the Faculty Guidebook on Experiential Education centred around bringing experiential learning online.

    Sandy Howe, Brock’s Associate Director of Experiential Education, said the diverse resources being offered cater to many different courses.

    “These are curated resources, with some ready to be plugged into courses right away and others providing great frameworks and templates around what high-quality experiential course components could look like online,” she said. Read more here

Goodman students adapt quickly as course content moves online

  • When in-class courses changed to online teaching last month, Asma Zafar questioned how she would ensure the remainder of her classes would provide students with the educational experience they deserved.

    The Assistant Professor of Strategy for the Goodman School of Business at Brock University teaches several courses that include experiential education components that allow students to gain practical experience by applying the skills and knowledge from their course content to their projects.

    For the past several months, students in Zafar’s Business Strategy class have been working closely with Red Roof Retreat, a local not-for-profit organization that facilitates respite and recreation programs for children and young adults with special needs. After learning about the charity’s challenges, student groups were tasked with writing a 25-page report detailing strategic recommendations and preparing a presentation to their professor, classmates, representatives from the School’s Experiential Education team and the Executive Director of Red Roof Retreat.

    With physical distancing protocols implemented last month in response to the COVID-19 crisis, all Brock courses moved to online formats. Read more here

Working from home provides unique internship opportunity for IAS student

  • The new work from home climate has given third-year Interactive Arts and Sciences (IAS) student Fariha Khan the unique opportunity to intern with a local game development company.

    “While the coronavirus lockdown may have proved a burden to many companies who might otherwise have offered an internship this year, it managed to create an opportunity for Rocketship Park,” says Jim Squires, CEO and co-founder of the local game development company. “Like so many start ups, we have chosen to forgo the costs and complications of a formal office space. Our team works entirely remotely.”

    Rocketship Park uses a distributed workforce model, meaning each employee works from home. It’s a model used by many start-ups and even larger companies like GitLab.

    Working remotely meant that the company couldn’t take on Brock student interns, as the internship program previously required meetings take place in an approved company facility — something Rocketship Park simply didn’t have. Now, with most people working from home, the company was able to bring Khan on board. Read more here

University of Ottawa

Great collaboration between uOttawa faculty, the uOttawa CO-OP office and BioTalent Canada

  • In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Associate Professor of Medicine and Synthetic Biologist, Dr. Mads Kaern recognized that numerous undergraduate students would lose their summer placement and created a new program, the uOttawa BioTalent Program, to offer CO-OP students an alternative to on-site job training while working from home. He envisioned that replicating pedagogical elements from his experiences in the uOttawa undergraduate medical education (UGME) program could provide students an opportunity to enhance their job-readiness and develop meaningful skills and competencies via a problem-based learning model. Dr. Kaern proposed that the program should involve teams of 4-6 students working collaboratively via the internet to develop practical solutions and realistic implementation strategies to address a biotechnology problem with important societal, economical or policy implications. Read more here

Ryerson University

How live actor simulations are going virtual in the pandemic

  • From placements at community organizations to Zone Learning, experiential learning is deeply embedded in Ryerson’s DNA. Since the university’s founding as a polytechnic in 1948, the experiential opportunities available have often made the difference to students choosing Ryerson. However in the age of physical distancing, how do experiential learning opportunities continue? Read more here

University of Guelph

U of G Hiring Co-op Students to Help Move Fall Courses Online

  • The University of Guelph is hiring 85 co-op students to help faculty and students move to online course delivery in the fall.

    The University recently announced plans for a “hybrid” fall semester with courses and activities delivered both in-person and remotely. The many components of the plan will unfold in the coming weeks. 

    Co-op hires earning between $5,000 and $7,000 will assist faculty to transform their courses over the summer.

    The initiative is funded by the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) of Employment and Social Development Canada in partnership with the Information Communications Technology Council. Funding will also come from U of G’s office of the provost and vice-president (academic). Read more here.

Entrepreneurship Co-op Brings New Opportunities To Students

  • The entire University of Guelph community has felt the impact of COVID-19. Faculty, staff and students have all had their own unique experience in coping with the global pandemic. As many co-op placements have been postponed, university administrators have had to find unique and innovative ways to help students gain hands-on, applied learning that U of G’s co-op program is known for.

    In partnership with U of G’s Co-op and Career Services, the John F. Wood Centre has developed the E-Coop Hub Incubator program to provide students with entrepreneurial education and experience during the pandemic. An extension of the Wood Centre’s  successful Hub Incubator Program - which supports early-stage business ideas with high-potential, but unproven business models – the E-Coop Hub Program will enable ten co-op students to spend the next 4 months receiving mentorship, education, and financial support to help them bring their business idea to life. Read more here

Mount Royal University

Paying it forward in the midst of a pandemic

  • For alumna Pamela Menge, bringing in Mount Royal University student Jenna Thornton in January for a work term placement was a full-circle moment.

    “Having gone through the co-op program myself, it was a fun experience to be on the other end of this, even getting to work with Wanda Smith, the same work experience co-ordinator I had worked with as a student.”

    As for Thornton, a third-year student in the Bachelor of Business Administration — Human Resources program, she was thrilled to land the role of human resources assistant at the Calgary offices of Fasken, a full-service law firm with locations in Canada, the U.K., South Africa and China. An extra bonus was being supervised by a Mount Royal alumna who had a first-hand understanding of the program. Read more here

College of the North Atlantic

Premier Ball Announces Details of the Final Step in Completing the Trail of the Caribou

  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in partnership with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council and College of the North Atlantic (CNA), today announced that InnovativeNL, an engineering and project management firm in St. John’s, has been selected to undertake the fabrication of a bronze caribou monument for installation at Gallipoli, thereby finally completing the Trail of the Caribou.

    InnovativeNL will undertake the work at an estimated contract value of $194,000. The sixth caribou monument will be placed 25 metres northwest of the Hill 10 Cemetery in Gallipoli, which is the resting place for 12 Royal Newfoundland Regiment soldiers, including Private Hugh McWhirter, the Regiment’s first casualty at Gallipoli.

    Expected to weigh 1,500 pounds, the bronze caribou monument will measure approximately 10 feet from the nose to the back and approximately eight feet from top to bottom. To assist with the fabrication process, 19 students of CNA’s Geomatics/Surveying Engineering Technology program collected point cloud data from a digital scan of the caribou monument located in Bowring Park as part of their remote sensing course. Read more here

University of Regina

Student Testimonial

  • My name is Tareque Siddique and I am an international student from Bangladesh. Currently, I am pursuing the Master of Administration in Leadership program at the University of Regina. I am also an active co-op student and working with Advising and Career Education Centre at the U of R. I am on my third and final work-term.

    In 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic was unleashed on the world and we are all trying to adjust with the situation to survive. Since March 18, 2020, I have started to work from home. My office has provided me fantastic supports for working remotely. It was challenging at first to adjust to the home-working environment, but gradually, I have become comfortable with it. Working from home provides me autonomy and flexibility. There is less stress involved while working from home. At first, I thought that I would become unproductive, but truthfully, I have found myself to be even more productive. I can set my own pace for work and find my rhythm, which helps me to overcome any fear of burn-out.

    I attended an online class in spring 2020, where I feared I would get poor marks, but fortunately, with support from my supervisor and colleagues, I did great. When we all started to work from home, I believe everyone had some sort of fear and anxiety adjusting to their new conditions. It might have originated from a sudden change in the work environment. I am lucky as I have adjusted myself pretty well to the change.  

    The University of Regina has excellent working conditions, culture and environment! I am fortunate to have a great supervisor and very helpful colleagues. Every week, we have zoom meetings discussing new updates and the work assigned so we stay connected. These meetings help me a lot to adapt to the situation and the job expectations. I never feel stranded. Communication has never become an issue for me and my supervisor has assigned me some interesting new projects. As a co-op student, I think this is a great time to develop extra skills which will help me in the future.

    There is no denying the fact that I miss my family and worry about my parents and siblings in Bangladesh. My father has a critical heart condition and my mother works in a hospital as a nurse. The pandemic situation in my home country is not good, and day by day the situation is getting worse. Being the oldest child and only son, I at times feel that I am not fulfilling my duty to my family. I also miss the social interactions with my office colleagues, friends, and classmates. Life can get boring very easily. Nevertheless, I am adapting every day, as Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”    

    I am very grateful that I have a Co-op position at this unprecedented time and for the blessings I have in my life. Many students have it so much worse off with no job and no supports. Here is hoping this pandemic ends soon and we can all get back to work at the lovely University of Regina campus!    

    Thank you for reading my story!

    Tareque Siddique Al- Hossain

    M.Admin (Leadership), Co-op student, Advising and Career Education (ACE)