Hands-on learning is synonymous with the Sheridan experience. More than 7,500 Sheridan students participate in work-integrated learning (WIL), facilitated through opportunities like co-op, internship, apprenticeship, mandatory professional practice and field placement.
Whatever the avenue, students bring fresh ideas, new skills and a vibrant energy to their places of employment and in return gain invaluable real-world experience before launching into their careers. “WIL activities are opportune for students to develop career competencies,” says Matt Rempel, Director of Career-Integrated Learning at Sheridan. “These are the intangibles – critical thinking, problem solving, emotional acumen and agility, among other skills – that pair with in-class learning and result in graduating well-rounded, career-ready students.”
Each year, Sheridan awards students who have contributed to outstanding work-integrated learning experiences. In August, Sheridan hosted virtual events to recognize nine students for their WIL achievements. “Each award ceremony is an opportunity to gather students, their employers and Sheridan staff to hear stories about how WIL experiences are beneficial for everyone involved,” says Joanne Islip, Manager Work-Integrated and Experiential Learning Services. “We all continue to learn and grow together through the incredible contributions of our students.”
Below, you’ll meet four of these stand-out students from programs across different Faculties who excelled in their hands-on learning requirements. They each provide insight to their WIL experiences and why they are deserving of recognition as four of Sheridan’s WIL and Co-op Students of the Year.
Faculty: Applied Health and Community Studies
Co-op employer: Toronto Blue Jays
Role: Athletic Therapy Intern
What responsibilities did you undertake while on placement? There were a lot of moving parts to the role since it’s a big organization. First and foremost, it was important to listen to my supervisors and learn through observation. I was responsible for prepping the therapy room, setting up the dugout with supplies, and I got to treat the athletes. It was a bit intimidating at first, but they were really welcoming. I was part of a large healthcare team and had to gain trust and respect. I knew to be successful I had to operate within my role and show up everyday with the same positive attitude.
Describe a memorable experience: In September 2019, I was presented with the Toronto Blue Jays Sports Medicine Scholarship at an on-field ceremony and I got to throw out the first pitch. I was an intern and they treated me with the utmost respect.
How did it prepare you for entering the workforce? I learned a lot of soft skills, which oftentimes are forgotten when learning so many technical, hard skills. I learned to be really disciplined as working with a professional sports team is not a typical 9 to 5 job. Demonstrating that I’m steady and reliable, hardworking and dedicated with the Jays also helped me in my fourth year at Sheridan and my work with the Toronto Raptors before the pandemic hit.
What are your job aspirations? Working with the Raptors or the Jays would be my ideal workplace in the future and a dream come true.
Use three words to describe your Sheridan experience: Challenging. Rewarding. Supportive.
Program: Visual Merchandising Arts
Faculty: Animation, Arts and Design
Field placement employer: Watt International – a global integrated retail agency
What responsibilities did you undertake while on placement? I was fortunate to experience various avenues at Watt International. I conducted competitive research for two key clients. I worked heavily with the McDonald’s team, preparing program summary decks and even led a McDonald’s point-of-sale creative program for the Chocolate Hazelnut Muffin digital menu board. I also participated in internal creative meetings and photo shoots and developed master assets document for Market 32 – Price Chopper Supermarkets.
Describe a memorable experience: On my fifth day, I was assigned Stand Alone McCafé’s Chocolate Hazelnut Muffin program to lead through the development phases. This included the input of rollout dates for the concept brief, consistently revising the most up to date information in the summary deck and briefing the Graphic Designers with client feedback when given. This was the highlight of my field placement. The VP of Client Development took note of and complimented my work.
How did it prepare you for entering the workforce? I got to experience working with a reputable company in downtown Toronto and gained contacts within the industry. Not only was the work experience incredibly valuable, but I learned that the process is just as important as the outcome. I learned that by being myself while still being professional is very important.
What are your job aspirations? I’m looking to help companies create concept drawings using SketchUp. I love seeing a simple sketch come to life through a digital drawing!
Use three words to describe your Sheridan experience: Rewarding. Exciting. Valuable.
Faculty: Applied Science and Technology
Co-op employer: Deloitte – a multinational professional services network
Role: Database Administrator
What responsibilities did you undertake while on placement? My day-to-day role involved working on database instances to support configuration and management which required collaborating with local and offshore teams.
Describe a memorable experience: During my time at Deloitte, I had the opportunity to be the project lead for one of the website redesign projects during Deloitte’s annual IMPACT Day – a pro bono initiative aimed at helping society through knowledge-sharing. I worked with the partner organization that we were supporting to ensure their needs were met and coordinated logistics for the day of the event.
How did it prepare you for entering the workforce? My co-op experiences and in-class learning not only provided me with technical skills, but soft skills that gave me an advantage in the workplace. I feel that I am confident in my presentation skills, teamwork and ability to effectively communicate complex processes.
What are your job aspirations? I’m looking for roles that are at the intersection of business and technology. My ideal role would be a business systems analyst or consulting work. My ideal workplace is a consulting company or big 5 bank.
Use three words to describe your Sheridan experience: Growth. Extracurriculars. Opportunities.
Program: Human Resources Management
Faculty: Pilon School of Business
Co-op employer: Olymel – a Canadian meat packing and food processing company
Role: Human Resources Assistant
What responsibilities did you undertake while on placement? I undertook many HR responsibilities such as recruiting, holding orientation, managing employees on short-term or long-term disability, parental or maternity leave and those on WSIB. I also assisted in health and safety meetings, benefits, and training. This position also required a lot of administrative work, which I enjoyed thoroughly.
Describe a memorable experience: At Olymel, we held many events (before the pandemic began), that appreciated employees’ service within the company. We had a Christmas party in 2019 at an external venue, and I had the opportunity to assist with the event planning. I had a great time connecting with everyone.
How did it prepare you for entering the workforce? My placement experience made me realize that organization, time management and communication skills are extremely important. Without these skills, it would have been difficult for me to complete the tasks given to me. In addition to that, my placement taught me that it is important to be a team player and network with the people I worked with.
What are your job aspirations? I am planning to pursue my MBA in the next one to two years. After that, I hope to keep learning new things from any workforce I enter.
Use three words to describe your Sheridan experience: Challenging. Transformative. Enlightening.
Compiled and edited by Keiko Kataoka, Manager, Communications and Public Relations at Sheridan College.
Pictured at top of page: Sheridan Athletic Therapy student Omer Suhrawardy with the Toronto Blue Jays Scholarship Award on the field at the Rogers Centre.