Students got the chance to attend UTM’s first ever Experiential Education Fair last Wednesday, where they were exposed to various work and experience opportunities available to them.

The Experiential Education Fair, held in the Maanjiwe Nendamowinan building, had a variety of company stations and sessions where professors shared information about internships, Research Opportunity Programs (ROP), independent research projects, and thesis programs.

“It was informational, and it got me thinking more about my future and how to make me stand out as a candidate for graduate studies or work in my field of study,” said Maha Chowdhury, a fourth-year biotechnology specialist and chemistry minor.

Running for about 20 minutes each, the information sessions informed students about the opportunities available to them to gain real-life experience in academic departments, co-curricular organizations, and community organizations on campus. The informational panels also guided students on how to apply for each experiential learning (EL) opportunity.

The fair also reminded students about the experience-based learning they could do in their upper year studies. Certain courses like the internship and thesis courses provide students with valuable experience that is applicable to work they may do after their undergraduate degree.

The information session hosted by the Department of Biology called “Experience: Get Out There and Explore with BIO400” focused on the department’s internship program, BIO400, a full-year program requiring both in-class lectures and an internship at a company. Students can choose a company from a diverse range of fields, like biotech, lab research, orthopedics, or pediatric oncology.

The Department of Psychology’s information session also highlighted its first ever Psychology Abroad course, the 2020 Summer Abroad Program in Oxford, England (PSY306Y0). The Summer Abroad Program will have EL opportunities to learn about persons with disabilities. 

Other information sessions included the Department of English & Drama’s EL projects, the Career Centre’s call for on- and off-campus opportunities, the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, & Technology’s internship courses, and the Department of Language Studies’ French Summer Program EL opportunity.

There were also representatives from the Riverwood Conservancy, Theatre Erindale, RGASC, the Career Centre, Dalriada Drug Discovery, and ICUBE, among others. The organizations offered opportunities for engagement outside of classrooms and academic work.

The fair was split into two sections. Companies from various fields had set up booths in the Grand Hall and the information sessions were held on the upper floors of the MN building.

Students who wanted to explore the experiential learning opportunities for their programs could attend the information sessions and then following the session they could go back to the Grand Hall to speak to the companies present.

The layout of the fair was met with some criticism from students.

“To be honest in my opinion it was disorganized and not very well advertised,” said Chowdhury.

“For my science program I had to go to a classroom and then go back down to speak to the companies that came, and I feel they wanted resumes and for you to come prepared. But in the flyers and email about the fair it didn’t say that clearly.”

The Experiential Education Unit (EEU)’s next event will be the Grandmothers Behind the Scenes presentation by Dr. Rula Kahil on November 5 at the Mississauga Central Library. The presentation is part of EEU’s Lecture Me series.

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