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Internships are seen as an impactful way for university students to gain work experience with one company. But what if these internships were able to open the door for a student to work with multiple different companies and business leaders, providing a diversity of experiences?
That is what the University of Moncton’s new experiential learning program ‘Lien d’avenir’ is aiming to provide. In collaboration with the provincial government, the new experiential education initiative integrates university students with different Chambers of Commerce across New Brunswick, as well as the local business communities.
The Fredericton, Saint John, Greater Moncton, Caraquet and Edmunston Chambers of Commerce are currently associated with the project.
Coordinating the program at the University of Moncton is Stéphane Sirois, who believes the program offers something new for students in their experiential learning experience
“Lien d’avenir fills a gap in the series of internship options available,” says Sirois. “Instead of working with a single company during their internship, students can work with between six and eight companies. This gives them this diversity of experiences.”
Benefiting from the program include Alex Ringuette and Germaine Pemba Kabemba, two University of Moncton students studying at the Edmundston campus. Enrolled in the university’s administration program, Alex and Germaine were looking for an opportunity to complement their classroom learning with an experiential learning opportunity. They were tasked to work with the Edmundston Chamber of Commerce and local businesses, to organize a charity golf tournament.
“At university, we learn theory,” says Kabemba. “We learn, for example, to look for sponsors, but we don’t know exactly how to do it. Through this internship, we had to execute this in practice, and we learned a lot.”
Cathy Pelletier, Executive Director of the Edmundston Region Chamber of Commerce, thought the experience provided to the two students was very beneficial.
“It was a great challenge since you have to have initiative and be able to readjust with the small problems that arise,” says Pelletier. “You also have to be able to communicate in a constructive way with an entire business network in the region. They were able to rub shoulders with these people and make themselves known. It was an experience that cannot be lived in a classroom.”
Lien d’avenir is a Future NB initiative, which fosters collaborative relationships between the business community and students across New Brunswick. Through experiential learning, students gain real world experience while contributing to the development of their community.
Joining Future NB and their partners on their efforts is RBC, who have made investing in experiential learning a key component of their RBC Future Launch initiative. RBC Future Launch is a $500 million commitment to bringing young people together with community leaders and partners across the private and public sectors to help youth prepare for the future of work.
The Lien d’avenir project is still in its pilot phase, but feedback from employers and students has been very positive.
“We see that the concept is working well, and are already planning to hire more students in the next cycle, while doing three cycles per year,” says Sirois. “We want to include more Chambers of Commerce, and make sure all businesses in the province have access to the service, hiring more students, more international students, and continue to grow the project.”
For more information on the Université de Moncton’s experiential learning, you can visit https://www.umoncton.ca/apprentissageexperientiel/.
For more information on experiential learning opportunities in New Brunswick, interested employers and students can check out more success stories during RBC Future NB Week from January 24-28, 2022 at https://futurenewbrunswick.ca/.