Experiential education: a hands-on way to learn

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Brock’s Co-op, Career and Experiential Education team is preparing students for their futures in a practical and fulfilling way.

Experiential education is a hands-on approach to learning that has been integrated into many of the courses at Brock. This type of learning sees students engaged in collaborations with other university students to achieve service-oriented projects that benefit the community and themselves.

All university students can relate to the difficulty of finding employment, whether part-time or full-time, as most jobs require applicants to have some experience to even be considered for an interview. One of the major benefits to taking part in experiential education is the ability to fulfill this requirement without deviating from one’s chosen course of study.

“Employers are demanding more and more experience from our students as time goes on. Not every student will have the opportunity to have a part-time job or take a program that offers co-op, so trying to have experiential opportunities where it makes sense for our students is so important,” said David DiPietro, an experiential education coordinator for the Goodman School of Business. “We hear our employers telling us that they were impressed by students that highlighted their experiential projects in a job interview. On the flip-side, our students tell us that they feel more prepared for their co-op work terms or career related jobs because of the experiential opportunities that they had.”

The experiential education department has over 100 service learning partnerships through which it enables students to develop their skills while supporting small businesses in the Niagara region.

“It’s important for Brock to be an active player in the community; a big part of that is giving back and contributing to the economy. Brock is central to the Niagara Region and we have so many resources and so much expertise on campus that it only makes sense that we give back through community partnerships,” said DiPietro. “We have so many great organizations in Niagara that could truly benefit from this collaboration. It’s the best opportunity for them to get exposure to the upcoming working class.”

This interaction results in a win-win situation for both the students and the community partners involved. Though the department has a large number of service-learning partnerships and numerous experiential education opportunities offered, there is still more to the work the office of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education does to elevate the reputation of Brock students in the workforce.

“We also offer resume/cover letter reviews, mock interviews, career advice and general mentorship about how your experiences fit into the bigger picture. Students should never hesitate to reach out to any member of the staff,” said DiPietro.

According to DiPietro, the most effective way to take advantage of the resources offered by the Co-op, Career and Experiential Education office is simply to ask for help. This applies for students, community partners and individuals who fit both categories.

“As a department, we are in constant communication with both each other and with our students. We are here for the students and we are always hoping to point them in the right direction. Something that students might not know is that our current students can also be our community partners. We encourage students that have unique ideas to bring them to us. It’s fantastic to see how many student entrepreneurs we have on campus,” said DiPietro.

In the past, through projects such as developing human resources policies for a local business, creating and pitching marketing plans and more, students have been challenged to take on real-world experiences alongside learning theory.

“Once you graduate, you’ll be going up against a huge pool of candidates who will have very similar experience from a curricular point of view. It’s the different experiences that you highlight that will get you noticed. We’re so fortunate at Brock to have these opportunities and to focus our efforts on getting students the most unique experiences possible,” said DiPietro, “It’s not enough to just participate in experiential projects, you need to know how to take advantage of them and also articulate what you’ve done. I believe that students will look back on their experiential opportunities as some of the most impactful. Even if they feel stretched while it is happening, the reward is far greater.”

Interested individuals can stop by the Experiential Education Office in ST401B on any weekday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for further information on how they can partner and get involved.

 

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