Lassonde students get hands-on experience with startups

lassonde winter students

In Fall 2022, the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (BEST) Program at Lassonde School of Engineering offered students the opportunity to discover, first-hand, what it’s like to start and grow a startup through the entrepreneurial Work-Integrated Learning (e-WIL) initiative.

Throughout the last semester, the BEST program provided 10 e-WIL placements to students to help them explore their strengths and passions while working at one of the BEST Startups, which include educational platforms, 3D printing consulting services and telemedicine technology. It wast the first time e-WIL was offered through Lassonde.

During the part-time, hands-on learning opportunity, students developed valuable entrepreneurial skills such as problem solving, creativity and resourcefulness.

“I have learned about the key factors that help a startup to succeed and developed excellent organizational and time management skills. I now understand how to prioritize work and finish the tasks on time,” says Sagar Saha, a first-year computer science student who worked as a frontend developer with BeTimeful, a social media blocker that aims to make social media less addictive.

Students’ time management skills were further cultivated by those who took advantage of the e-WIL opportunity and enjoyed a flexible work environment that accommodated their schedules and academic commitments. “I learned how to better manage a part-time position along with school. This will all be helpful later in life as I prepare to work a full-time job after graduation,” says Madison Bardoel, a final-year mechanical engineering student who worked for Reefers, a cleantech startup in the heavy-duty transportation industry.

Receiving constructive feedback about their performance and being entrusted with challenging tasks also helped students learn more about themselves and improve various skills.

“From this short experience, I’ve gained more knowledge than I would in a typical semester-long course,” says Juan Olivos, a second-year computer science student who did his placement as a developer with RydUp (formerly YURide), a ride-share platform aimed at university communities.

Furthermore, by collaborating with their placement peers, they were able to feel safe and comfortable with taking risks. Students received the opportunity to integrate theoretical knowledge in a work-based setting, increasing their confidence in their professional and entrepreneurial skills.

“I learned a lot from this experience,” says Kwaish Thakkar, a third-year computer science student who worked as a frontend developer for RydUp. “Most importantly, I got experience with frontend development. This position taught me a lot about entrepreneurship. There is a lot of work and dedication that goes into building a startup. You need to have a lot of confidence in your company, and you need other people who have the same amount of confidence and dedication in what you’re building.”

The inaugural e-WIL experience benefitted both students and the BEST Startups, allowing for an open exchange of ideas and hands-on learning and collaboration. The BEST e-WIL program expanded to include 20 placements for the Winter 2023 term.

Future placements are open to all York University students. More information, including how to apply, is available on the BEST website.