What if bachelor of arts students could gain a year’s worth of paid work experience in their field of choice and still graduate on time? At UNB Saint John, they can.
This fall, UNB Saint John’s faculty of arts will offer its first co-operative education program, an opportunity for experiential learning where students can apply the knowledge and skills they’ve developed in the classroom to the workplace. Students from the departments of English, history, political science and information and communication studies have been selected to take part in this year’s first cohort.
A bachelor of arts degree provides students with a wide range of skills that are easily transferable into workplace environments, says Joanna Everitt, dean of the faculty of arts in Saint John. This opens up the door for students to find paid placements in business, community organizations, government or nonprofits.
“Businesses and organizations look for arts students because they have good writing, good communication, good organization and good research skills,” Dr. Everitt says. “These things are really important to employers when they’re looking for students to take on as co-op students.”
These co-op placements not only provide students with work valuable experience, but they allow the students to earn money while they learn.
Students also receive support leading up to their first placement, through professional development workshops. They’ll be learning what employers are looking for, how to put together a CV and interview best practices – setting them up for success in the job market. During their placements, they’ll complete work term reports that will teach them to think critically about their practical experience.
There has been a lot of excitement in the community about this new program, says Dr. Everitt. “Those individuals who I’ve spoken to see real opportunities for us and our students.”
The new co-op program provides opportunities for connections and partnerships between UNB and the Saint John community. The community benefits from strong candidates for work experience positions, says Dr. Everitt, while UNB benefits as students champion the university through their work in the broader business, nonprofit and government communities in the area.