Emilee Ubels is a current student at Mount Royal University (MRU) in the Bachelor of Business Administration Program, majoring in marketing and minoring in international business. And before she graduates in December 2022, she has secured a full-time position at the Rural Development Network (RDN) working in communications.
So, how did she secure a full-time position before she finished her program? Emilee opted into a co-operative education program at MRU that provides opportunities for students to find relevant work experience related to their education, also known as Work-Integrated Learning (WIL).
Emilee has completed three work placements via the co-op program. Two were with the Town of Blackfalds as a Marketing Co-op Student, and the other with RDN as a Communications Assistant. At RDN, Emilee demonstrated her knowledge and expanded her skillset, proving to be an asset and a great fit for the organization, resulting in a full-time offer upon graduation.
Here are three ways Work-Integrated Learning helped Emilee launch a long-term career in communications before she graduates:
WIL gives students the advantage of real-world work experience, including creating valuable portfolio pieces – enhancing their resumes for future employers.
“Many of us graduate and go into the workforce with no experience,” explains Emilee. “My work [placements] have allowed me to build a portfolio and bring more knowledge and experience to an interview!”
“I’ve been able to build on the skills I already possess from school. The impact of my work placement opportunities was that I built real-world skills that will help me in any position in the future, such as adaptability, flexibility, and the willingness to learn and try new things.”
Many post-secondary students have busy schedules filled with classes and heavy workloads, making it hard to find professional opportunities that help establish or build a professional network. WIL fills that gap by connecting students with work experiences and professionals in their field.
"As a student preparing for the workforce, networking is so important! Not only for good references but even just to reach out for professional needs or help," says Emilee. "My previous employer at the Town of Blackfalds was an absolute wizard when it came to InDesign, so I still often reach out to her with any questions or problems I'm having with designing."
WIL and its networking opportunities can also help students secure future employment opportunities. "For me, my previous boss at the Town of Blackfalds gave me a glowing review to RDN, and I feel like I owe a great deal to her for helping me get my current position."
WIL also allows students to see what their field of study actually looks like in practice. This practical work experience can give students insight into what they'd like to pursue and identify what work may not suit them.
“Engaging students in the workforce [allows us] to discover more about ourselves and our field of work apart from the classroom,” explains Emilee. “I feel like I have a better sense of what my skills and abilities are and what kind of organization I’d like to work in.”
"It ended up being the best decision for me as I soon realized that I have more passion for communications work rather than marketing. I highly recommend Work-Integrated Learning because it could turn into a possible long-term position!"
Rural Roots is a Work-Integrated Learning program that connects post-secondary students with different types of work opportunities. Learn more and sign up!
Emilee joined RDN's team as a Communications Assistant in 2022 as a co-op student from Mount Royal University. Emilee focuses on writing and editing communications materials, including website content, social media posts, news releases, and newsletters. She also assists with other marketing initiatives, such as raising RDN's brand awareness across Canada and supporting other RDN initiatives like Sustainable Housing and Reaching Home.
Emilee realized her passion for doing purposeful, impactful work during her volunteer and community work. Growing up in a small rural town, she was actively involved in her community and understood the importance of rural development and how meaningful this work truly is.
In her spare time, Emilee enjoys reading, watching movies, socializing with friends and family, trying new coffee shops, and taking her two dogs on adventures.