New partnership leads to ‘campus-wide opportunity’
By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer
Douglas College has become the newest sponsor and partner of Leaders of Tomorrow, a mentorship program that connects students in their final year of studies with professionals from their industry of choice. Douglas will be sending 10–15 students into a year-long mentorship opportunity that aims to help them transition into a successful career.
The partnership can be seen as one of the many ways in which Douglas is fulfilling their commitment to experiential learning, which was one of the major growth strategies outlined in their most recent strategic plan. Brought to students in tandem with The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, the program is an expression of the shared goals of the three organizations: Employing students faster and in better positions, and helping students achieve higher job-success rates.
However, it wasn’t just business that the Board of Trade had in mind when they were discussing partnership with the college. Specifically, they were impressed with the prowess of Douglas’s nursing department, and so they are tailoring the program to meet those needs.
“Nursing students probably won’t have to worry about finding a job,” says Austin Nairn, programs director for the Board of Trade, “but the program can teach them a lot of soft skills surrounding their industry.”
These soft skills could include finding the right job, improving communication, and planning for a long-term career. Similar adaptations are being made for students in other faculties as well. Catherine Williams, the director of business development at the college, says that this is a “campus-wide opportunity” that she would like to see a variety of students engaged with.
After seeing the success of the Burnaby Board of Trade’s ACCESS program being in action for a number of years, Douglas has expanded to the Leaders of Tomorrow program to make it their second mentorship partnership to date, hoping to provide even more opportunities for Douglas students to participate in and choose from. While ACCESS is heavily business-oriented, the Leaders of Tomorrow differentiates itself by being a good fit for students with a wide variety of career interests. Programs such as ACCESS have shown success in the past for the college, especially in terms of faster employment and higher rates of job success for graduates.
“Douglas is already a work focused culture,” Williams said. “Forty per cent of our student population has a job.”
Those kinds of numbers, Williams said, make the average Douglas student very attractive to possible employers.
“What I’d like to see is for that to become is a career-focused culture, where a student names their highest and best ambition and then reaches for it.”
Experiential education opportunities like this are one of the newest ways that Douglas College is striving to achieve the career-focused culture that Williams is talking about.