A series of specialized workshops and online modules offered by the experiential education team in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies offer a dynamic, important resource for students who are preparing to enter the workforce.
By Elaine Smith, special contributor
Career readiness is top of mind for many students in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) at York, and there are new tools at their fingertips to help them enhance their preparation.
The experiential education (EE) team in the dean’s office, staffed by Melanie Belore, Aleksander Golijanin and Irene Seo, has recently unveiled a series of online modules, templates and learning pathways that focus on upskilling and specific career preparation tasks, such as writing resumes and cover letters, creating LinkedIn profiles, networking, interviewing and being professional in the workplace. The modules were created for eClass and are readily available to students, as well as staff and faculty who wish to incorporate them into a syllabus.
“Aleks is the mastermind behind these modules, and they are hot off the press,” said Belore, associate director of EE for LA&PS. “We are such a large Faculty, so we’re trying to complement central York supports and collaborate with others in putting career and life goals at the centre of the student experience.”
Golijanin, the office’s career specialist, joined LA&PS a year ago and began by teaching resume and cover letter writing workshops for students who were doing internships. In doing so, he saw that there was an opportunity to assist students and faculty with a wider range of supports. When the pandemic struck and classes moved online, Golijanin realized that he could make his synchronous offerings more in depth if there were asynchronous modules that taught students the basics first.
“When I work with students who have already done the modules, we can work on refining and finessing their output and answering questions,” Golijanin said. “The students feel more confident as a result.”
Golijanin deliberately designed the modules for eClass since that is a platform with which everyone at York is familiar.
“I knew that professors were already using eClass and so they could make use of the modules easily,” he said. “They don’t necessarily choose to have me come to class to do a workshop; many now have me create targeted sessions once their students have done a particular module so we can create a conversation that is more in depth.”
The modules are also a perfect fit for EE leaders and placement course directors, says Seo, the Faculty’s EE co-ordinator.
“The modules will help students prepare for various work-integrated learning opportunities within the Faculty and will also help prepare them for post-graduate career opportunities,” Seo said. “Faculty say the resources are much appreciated, given the growth of EE and work-integrated learning.”
The templates on the website complement the modules, helping students take the lessons they learn online and apply them to create copy that sounds professional and opens doors.
They have also curated a set of LinkedIn learning pathways that target the skills that will set students apart in the workplace.
“These plans grow out of the feedback we get from employers who partner with us to provide internships and EE opportunities for students,” said Belore. “We’re curating the key skills that employers are looking for and targeting students from a range of disciplines with varying career interests.”
Through York’s partnership with LinkedIn, the relevant instruction is available; it’s simply a matter of bringing it to the students’ notice.
“Students aren’t always aware that they have access to this information, but it’s a buffet of offerings and they can select those that are relevant to them,” said Golijanin. “There are opportunities to brush up on Outlook, learn how to run a meeting, teach yourself Excel for accounting or understand what a business report should contain. They are chances for upskilling or refreshing knowledge.”
Of course, as with any new initiative, the team expects it to change and grow.
“These tools and pathways won’t be stagnant,” said Belore. “As we receive feedback from students, faculty and employers, they’ll evolve to better meet our students’ career needs.”