March 7, 2019
The value and impact of work-integrated learning is very clear, but perhaps nowhere more so than for students in the International Development (ID) graduate certificate program. When you’re preparing for a job managing and developing international development projects in the world’s most difficult environments, field experience isn’t just nice to have, it’s a must.
Nearly 75 students from the ID program complete work placements every year. More than half do overseas placements in places like Peru, Jordan, Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They work with organizations like Global Medic, the Red Cross and the United Nations and typically spend spend six months to a year in the field.
Within the ID graduate program, the work placements are so successful, explains professor and program coordinator Susan MacGregor, that most ID students don’t end up coming home. “The fewer people we have showing up at graduation, the more successful we know our placements have been.”
For employers in the development and humanitarian sectors, hiring new personnel is risky. The work is complex and demanding, and relocating someone internationally is a big commitment. “Employers need to know the people they’re hiring can get with the program and are not just educated, but field tested,” says MacGregor. Humber ID grads get it and graduate with the skills and experiences needed get hired and land on their feet.
A large part of the equation is being mentally prepared to be comfortable and safe working outside of Canada. It’s scary going it alone in a foreign country and cross-cultural skills experience are essential. “It’s one thing to do your work in a classroom in Toronto, but it’s an entirely different thing to do it in a shipping container in South Sudan,” says MacGregor. The work-integrated learning approach makes sure that ID students transition positively and are prepared and confident in themselves that they can do it.
One of the common feedback items from students returning from ID work placements, is an observation on how well their classroom and practical learning experiences come together. “They don’t get it until they’re actually in the field,” says MacGregor, “and they’re really impressed with how well prepared they are and how closely Humber class mirrors what they do in the field.”
With 25 years and counting of program success, and countless stories of impact being made around the around, work-integrated learning is undoubtedly a key component in the success of these world-ready and work-ready citizens.
Learn more about the International Development (ID) graduate certificate program.