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Ontario Tech students reflect on benefits of work-integrated learning opportunities

Why Ontario Tech’s co-op, internship, and career development events boost student employability in competitive job markets

Ontario Tech students prepare for a visit to an area employer on the Career Bus (Winter 2024).
Ontario Tech students prepare for a visit to an area employer on the Career Bus (Winter 2024).

As Jessie Emeshili approaches the end of her second-year in the Networking and Information Technology degree program at Ontario Tech University, she has a keen eye on the road she wants to follow after graduation in 2026. In February, Emeshili gained valuable insight into her future plans by participating in a university event known as the ‘Career Bus’, where students travel to a local employer to learn how the skills they are gaining in their studies will soon apply in the workplace.

“One of the key lessons I've learned is that career paths aren't always straightforward,” says Emeshili. “Many students have a predetermined idea of where we'll go and how we'll get there. But hearing from a variety of professionals has shown me the value in being open to unexpected opportunities. It's perfectly fine to take chances and explore paths we hadn't previously considered.”

Emeshili would love to see more Career Bus and Career Day events at Ontario Tech.

“I tended to evaluate a company based on the job title or whether it's a name I recognize,” says Emeshili. “Hearing from the Career Day speakers made me realize the importance of looking beyond these initial impressions. Opportunities with lesser-known companies or positions with unconventional titles, can offer unique experiences and growth opportunities that I might otherwise miss out on.”

The Career Bus is just one of many ways that demonstrate Ontario Tech’s longstanding belief in the value of student-focused educational options that deliver practical, hands-on experiences as a major component of every university program.

“Before the Career Bus trip, I had been feeling some stress about what career and specialty I want to dive into,” says Kezia Bello, a third-year student in Tech Management. “I learned so much about the jobs in the field. Now I know what employers really look for and I know that my skills will be valued by a company. And I don't have to know exactly what I want, because things change.”

Hima Paul, a fourth-year Software Engineering student who completed a 12-month co-op at RBC, says she gained invaluable real-world experience from her placement. 

“Co-op and internship opportunities bridge academic knowledge with practical application,” says Paul. “Such experience not only enhances your skill set, but also provides a better understanding of your career path.”

Did you know?
  • All Ontario Tech faculties offer co-ops or internships as part of degree programs. Students gain skills, competencies and networking from these experiences, while employers establish connections with future talent who are ready to hit the ground running upon hiring.
  • Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada designates March as Work Integrated Learning Month.
Ontario Tech experiential learning data (2022-2023)  

Ontario Tech University has a long history of offering experiential and work-integrated learning to students that enrich student learning while preparing them for future careers. This hands-on approach to education   helps students develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their chosen field, while also providing them with valuable work experience and professional connections.

  • Nearly 3,000 Ontario Tech students participated in work-integrated learning in 2022-2023.
  • Nearly 3,400 unique learning experiences across 15 different types of engagement (co-op, service learning, applied research projects, entrepreneurship and more).
  • Nearly 400 different industry and community partners across the GTA and beyond.
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