Work-Integrated Learning: Students

Students presenting in front of a screen

What is Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)?

Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) is an educational practice that intentionally integrates academic study in the workplace or a simulated work environment. Students reinforce their learning outcomes and academic theories through practical applications that are relevant to industry or community partners' needs.

How do students benefit from WIL?

Students gain practical experience, working with industry partners while completing courses, that develop relevant skills that give them a leg up on the competition while seeking co-op placements.

Student solutions impact the companies they partner with, creating tangible examples of work experience that students can draw on in future endeavors.

Students expand their network connections within industry that may lead to future career opportunities.

By exploring a variety of projects in their first and second years, students can determine their preferred fields of study early on, allowing them to intentionally adjust their academic journey to focus on the skills required to work in that field in their third and fourth years.

With the WIL program, not only do students graduate with an internationally recognized degree, but they also enter the workforce with relevant experience for the fields in which they are interested in working. This will allows students to find desirable employment much faster.

Academic Courses with WIL Components 

 

Types of Work-Integrated Learning

Co-operative Education (Co-op)

Co-op consists of paid work terms that alternate between academic terms. Work terms provide experience in a workplace setting related to the student’s field of study. The number of required work terms varies by program; however, the time spent in work terms must be at least 30% of the time spent in academic study.

Entrepreneurship

Mentorship, space, and/or funding is provided to engage students in the early-stage development of business start-ups either for academic credit or through our co-curricular New Venture Program. Developmental formation is self-directed with strong foundational business theory to set students up for success as entrepreneurs or corporate innovators.

Applied Research Projects

Student research that addresses specific needs of an external partner organization, often taking place in the field. Characteristics include: student-generated research questions, methodologies, conceptual frameworks, and project management plans under academic supervision. Students analyze the collected information or data to reinforce their understanding of how research outcomes relate to the concepts from their academic curriculum. Projects often focus on consulting, design, market research and analysis, data analytics, and community-focused initiatives.

Field Placement/Externship

Short-term, practical activities outside of the classroom in a setting relevant to the student’s academic discipline offering intensive practical skills development. Students may investigate similarities and differences amongst multiple environments, or focus on a specific outcome. These experiences prepare students for professional fields where there might not be formal certification.

Competitions or Co-curricular Engagement

Competitive events such as case competitions and hackathons in which teams work on industry-provided projects over a short period of time, such as a weekend or a week. These events are often sponsored and judged by industry representatives who work with U of T staff, faculty, and students to co-develop a case based on a present-day industry challenge. Long-term engagements include the Student Managed Fund, where students gain experience by managing simulated investment portfolios on the actual market, and the Management Consulting Group.