Bridge the gap from the classroom to the workplace with work-integrated learning 

March is Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Month (CEWIL). Let’s talk about what that means and how you can get involved as a McMaster student. 

March 1, 2024

What is work-integrated learning (WIL)? 

What if we told you there’s a way to take your learning beyond the lecture hall and into the real world? Enter work-integrated learning, your golden ticket to bridging theory with practice. 

Examples could include hackathons, case competitions, short-term projects, job shadows, internships, campus jobs and volunteering, just to name a few.  

Lets break down some of the benefits

  1. Increased employability: WIL isn’t just a buzzword. Employers love candidates who’ve dipped their toes in the professional pool. It’s like having a “hire me” sign on your resume. 
  1. Theory meets reality: Remember those mind-boggling theories from class? WIL lets you put them to the test. Suddenly, they make sense, and you’ve got hands-on experience and skills to show for it. 
  1. Career exploration: WIL is your backstage pass to different career paths. You get to peek behind the curtains and decide if you’re more suited for marketing, coding, event planning — the list goes on. 
  1. Networking: You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Well, WIL lets you know the right people. You’ll get to connect with potential employers, mentors and industry experts. 

What McMaster students have to say about it 

My Global Experience Award was nothing short of amazing… After I received the funding I applied to do an internship opportunity with a healthcare company in the U.S. and later continued to work with the company as a part-time assistant. This opportunity allowed me to expand my networking circle outside Canada and introduce me to industry jobs in the pharmaceutical and healthcare fields. My GEA experience also allowed me to meet some incredible people, attend cutting-edge seminars in the pharmaceutical industries and also attend a conference… These experiences are super helpful in deciding whether something you’re interested in is a suitable career choice!

Nawal, fourth-year Science student

I went on a global experience this summer. I had the opportunity to work at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida and experience the magic of the company… This experience changed me as a person and helped me grow so much into the person I want to become.

Kristina, third-year Science student 

How to get involved

CEWIL Month is as good a time as any to start (or continue) your work-integrated learning journey. Here are some options.

Experiential Learning Pop-Up

March 26, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (MUSC Marketplace)

Attend our Student Success Centre experiential pop-up and learn about experience building opportunities that reflect your interests and goals. SSC staff can answer any questions about short term projects, challenges, volunteer placements as well as global internships and awards.

MindSumo Challenges

On the MindSumo platform, you can complete challenges to provide your unique perspectives, helping organizations come up with creative and innovative solutions for pressing issues. In return, you can earn valuable experience, win cash prizes and impress potential employers. Create a free account using your McMaster email to discover opportunities provided for you and your peers.

Think Pacific Remote Internships

Gain international experience without leaving the country. Remote internships with Think Pacific are one way to develop intercultural skills and competencies, improve employability and start building a global network. Working on behalf of a Fijian organization (across a choice of 10 sectors and areas of specialization), interns complete a social action project to take on real problems in the South Pacific. Apply for McMaster’s Global Experience Award (GEA) and, if approved, there will be no program fee!

EXPLORE: Experiential Learning Opportunities Resource

There are so many ways for you to gain experience and get involved at McMaster. Use this tool to explore and filter your options based on your goals and interests. There are opportunities for undergraduate students in any level or Faculty, ranging from courses for credit to experience-building programs, community engagement and more. Plus, explore options to take your learning outside your discipline, or area of study.

Campus Jobs and Experience

There are so many opportunities to create a career path for yourself at McMaster. Gain work and volunteer experience while you’re a student. Access mentorship and receive insight from current staff. Apply your skills and experience by working at the university after you graduate. And more! Use this page as a resource to create your career path at McMaster.

Work-Integrated Learning Support

One-on-one appointments: Meet with an experienced professional from the SSC for guidance on work-integrated learning, experiential and interdisciplinary learning, and more (including what those words mean and how they can relate to you). Book appointments on OSCARplus, under Student Success Centre > Appointments > Experiential and Employment.

Guide to Work-Integrated Learning (Avenue to Learn)

This opportunity can help you understand and prepare for any work, volunteer, placement and community project experience. It’ll help guide your learning, skills building and professional development to get the most value out of your experience. 

Follow @MacSSC on Instagram and X (Twitter), and join our LinkedIn group, for more information and opportunities throughout CEWIL Month.