Why Experiential Learning is Important for Student Development

When we think about a university education, we often picture large lecture halls, labs, tests, and textbooks. Study hard, get the grades, and land the job of your dreams. While these are important aspects of the post-secondary journey, there’s one increasingly popular approach to learning being incorporated into many College and University programs.

Experiential Learning approaches are becoming more widely accepted as alternatives or enhancements to traditional didactic (lecture-style) teaching methods. At its core, experiential learning means learning by doing. In the context of higher education, this methodology takes on a few different forms you may have heard of: internships, co-ops, or work placements.

At face value, co-op terms give students the chance to gain experience in the workplace before graduating and leave school with a few more lines on their resume. When we dig a little deeper though, research shows that students who embrace experiential learning opportunities are more open-mindedpurposefulcollaborative, and better equipped with the skills needed to launch into a career post-graduation.

As a former co-op student at The University of Waterloo, being able to apply classroom knowledge to a “real-world” job was an invaluable experience. I’m definitely a person who learns by doing –  a touch-the-stove-to-see-if-it’s-hot kind of learner. I need to experience a concept in order to feel like I fully understand it and I suspect I’m not alone in this.

As a co-op student, I learned new skills by working on projects with industry experts and saw what I studied in textbooks come alive. I wasn’t always sure what specific career I wanted to pursue, but I was able to try multiple different paths while still studying  Apart from great experiential learning, co-op was also a great way to learn what I did (and did not!) want my career to look like. It taught me workplace skills, but also taught me about myself – my strengths and my goals.

Experiential Learning at ApplyBoard

Co-op students collecting donations during Refugee Week

ApplyBoard’s first class of co-op students collecting donations during Refugee Week.

At ApplyBoard, we welcome new co-op students every four months across all of our teams. They get to see what working in a diverse and innovate company is like, and work side-by-side with our expert staff. They learn by doing, and in turn, head back to school with more purpose, drive, and the skills they need for the future.

Right now, ApplyBoard accepts co-op students from Conestoga CollegeThe University of Waterloo, and University of Guelph, but we’re always open to new partnerships.

If you’re currently enrolled in a co-op program at Conestoga, UW, or Guelph, feel free to get in touch with me at katie.kerrison@applyboard.com to find how you could work at ApplyBoard as part of your co-op placement!

Katie Kerrison
Talent Acquisition Specialist
ApplyBoard Canada