Stephanie Baziuk, left, chats with a UBC Okanagan Co-op student.

UBC Okanagan co-op students making an impact

University links organizations with a new generation of talent

From an extra pair of hands to a fresh new perspective, UBC Okanagan’s co-op education program is a winning partnership that allows employers to harness the energy of student talent.

Kelowna’s coLab recently finished its first co-op position, welcoming Luan Jardine, a management student from UBC Okanagan. Offering creative skills in photography and graphic design, she worked in administration, digital marketing, social media, event logistics and some special projects.

“We chose wisely and were thankful to find a student who had everything we were looking for and more,” says coLab founder Shane Austin.

How it works

The UBC Okanagan co-op education program connects university students and community partners for a number of work-experience opportunities. Learners enrolled in a variety of studies – everything from languages, sciences, human kinetics to management – receive real-world experience, and employers access energizing and youthful students connected with the latest methods and practices.

Placements last four, eight and 12 months and are available across a wide variety of programs. Students eager to expand their resumés with meaningful experience are vetted through an intake process conducted by UBC Okanagan.

“Working closely with our office is a huge benefit for both students and organizations. If there are any questions or hiccups, we can provide that support,” explains Stephanie Baziuk, co-op & career coordinator at UBC Okanagan.

“From the student perspective, the experience they get is a huge piece but it’s also a chance to see what they like and don’t like.”

A boost for business

While hiring a co-op student does require a time commitment from the business, coLab’s experience provided a cost-effective boost for the team and allowed them to experiment with new goals.

“As a business attempting to transform and grow, the opportunity was wise, and ended up being valuable,” Austin says.

“It’s always exciting when you put an idea in front of a team member, and they run with it, with enthusiasm. We ran a weekend-long hack event for artists, animators and tech professionals called Press Play. With hardly any direction, Luan was able to pull together a large number of resources, co-ordinate the event, and bring a huge amount of creativity to our promotional efforts.”

Because businesses and nonprofits know they have an extra support for a set period, a co-op placement can also be perfect for special projects in need of a dedicated person, Bazuik says, noting BC interior-based employers can also access a grant from the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust to help off-set some of the hiring costs.

The experience will likely encourage coLab to welcome more students.

“Our company vision was advanced. We definitely escalated our efforts in providing value to our members, and connecting to the broad community.”

For more information on UBC Okanagan Co-op Education, visit coop.ok.ubc.ca/partners or reach out via email at coop.ok@ubc.ca.

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