Conestoga has launched the Student Experiential Record (SER), a tool that incorporates and tracks all curricular work-integrated and experiential learning opportunities gained throughout a student’s academic journey at the college.
“We developed an enhanced system to expand and track all experiential learning opportunities for students in alignment with our vision for excellence in polytechnic education and the Ontario government’s commitment to providing students with these opportunities,” said Kristine Dawson (photo), director, Co-operative Education, Career Services and Work-Integrated Learning. “The SER is more than a physical record of experience; it helps students and graduates understand and articulate the skills, experiences and competencies they’ve acquired throughout the duration of their programs.”
Supporting student career readiness and employment, the SER demonstrates competencies gained through Conestoga experiences like field placements, co-op terms or capstone projects; shows how experiences align with career pathways and employer expectations; identifies student strengths and opportunities for development; and demonstrates Canadian experience and skills. The SER also guides resume, profile and portfolio development and supports networking and interview preparation.
“Graduates head into the workforce facing employers who expect at least three years of experience,” added Dawson. “The question we often hear from students is ‘How can I have that experience without the opportunities to gain it?’ The SER was established to help eliminate those fears by capturing program-based, work-integrated and experiential learning opportunities. It gives our graduates a chance to demonstrate and articulate the knowledge, skills and attributes they have gained using competency-based language that’s relevant to prospective employers.”
According to Orbis Communications, the software provider for the SER platform, Conestoga is the first college in Canada to adopt such a record. The SER was launched during the college’s Career Readiness Week in late September and is supported by a marketing campaign, aimed at students, that taps into the concerns they may have about their career journey.
“We are very excited to be the first to offer this new tool and believe the SER is an essential vehicle to start those really important conversations with students as they embark on their careers,” said Dawson. “We want them to understand the value they bring to employers.”
Conestoga has positioned itself as a leader in co-operative education. Through their programs, nearly 70 per cent of Conestoga students have access to work-integrated and experiential learning opportunities which provide relevant hands-on learning in support of students’ education and future careers. More than 65 Conestoga programs offer a co-op component, resulting in more than 2,500 co-op work terms annually. Over 30 Conestoga co-op programs have been accredited by CEWIL Canada.
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