The Impact Centre at the University of Toronto and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) are creating new national entrepreneurial experiential learning opportunities for post-secondary students.
Together they are launching a new remote entrepreneurial work integrated learning program (eWIL) that will connect UNBC students with Toronto-based startups. These startup internships will provide students of all backgrounds an opportunity to gain valuable experience applying and developing their skills in a dynamic startup environment while obtaining course credit from UNBC.
The remote eWIL program builds on the Impact Centre’s expertise in creating innovative experiential learning programs. Over the past four years, the Impact Centre has placed 176 students in 42 companies as part of course-based startup internships. Workshops, classroom activities, and regular interviews supplement the work experience and ensure that the students are gaining a meaningful opportunity to engage and learn during their internships.
“Since the establishment of our WIL programming we have seen significant impact on the student education experience,” says Dr. Richard McAloney, Director, Technology Management & Entrepreneurship at the Impact Centre. “After some discussion with UNBC, we’ve decided to explore this new and innovative way to deliver Impact Centre programming.”
To pilot the program, two Impact Centre supported companies, Steadiwear and Adrenalease, will each bring on UNBC students during the winter term.
The students will begin their internships in Toronto on January 11 and 12 by meeting with the company founders and receiving Impact Centre workshops on market analysis, business development, and other skills. Their work for the companies will be completed at UNBC with additional workshops delivered remotely and co-supervised by the companies and UNBC staff member Mark Barnes, Director, Office of Research.
Emily Norum, a first-year biomedical student at UNBC, is one of the students participating in the program. “This program allows me to gain much greater experience than I would generally receive through classroom education alone. I get the opportunity to work with someone who understands what it takes to make their product succeed, and apply my knowledge in real world situations.”
Expanding the program to UNBC highlights the interest for these programs across the country.
“The entrepreneurship ecosystem is rapidly expanding in the region and developing programs with our partners, including the Impact Centre will bring exceptional opportunities to our students,” says Barnes. “This holds great potential for flow of students and startups between our regions.”
“It was impressive to see the thirst for entrepreneurship from the students and the support programming that UNBC is putting in place,” says McAloney. “We look forward to working with them on this program and providing new opportunities for both students and startups across Canada.”