Fraser Valley – The University of the Fraser Valley wants to ensure that all students have the chance to integrate career-related planning and experience into their education.

And RBC’s Future Launch program is helping to achieve that goal with a $300,000 donation from RBC Foundation to the newly created UFV Centre for Experiential and Career Education (CECE).

The donation was announced at a celebration at UFV’s Abbotsford campus on November 21 by Martin Thibodeau, RBC Regional President, British Columbia.

RBC’s -Martin-Thibodeau

“When experience is so important to getting a job, but so hard to come by, young people are left feeling uncertain about their futures in the new world of work,” said Thibodeau. “We hope that through our partnership with the University of the Fraser Valley, RBC Future Launch can help young people get those all-important first jobs and break the ‘no experience, no job’ cycle.”

RBC Future Launch is a 10-year, $500-million commitment to empowering Canadian youth to build meaningful careers. With a focus on networking, skills development, and experience, the initiative aims to help solve the problems facing young people due to the changing landscape of the workplace.

Maureen Wideman, UFV Associate Vice President, Teaching and Learning, officially announced the creation of the Centre for Experiential and Career Education.

“Through the creation of CECE we are bringing together various units at UFV who work with students to provide them with experiential learning opportunities such as paid co-operative education, work-study, career education, work-place integrated learning, volunteer experiences, and curricular activities that include an experiential component,” she said.

“Moving this group of talented people into one academic unit signals to our students and the community that while we are building 21st century academic skills, these are also the skills required for 21st century employment and community engagement.”

UFV President Joanne MacLean spoke about how the new centre ties in nicely with UFV’s mission and values.

“At UFV our mission is to engage learners, transform lives, and build community. CECE does all three. It gives learners a chance to engage with real hands-on work. Students get to engage with employers, and employers get to connect with the university through CECE.”

She noted that UFV and RBC already enjoy a strong collaborative partnership.

“This is not the first time RBC and UFV have partnered. There are many strands of friendship and collaboration threading through our university. RBC employees volunteer at UFV on a regular basis. In our food bank, at our fundraising golf tournaments, in our International Student Centre, and at our New Student Orientations.”

At the recent UFV Town and Gown event, RBC was awarded a UFV Ripple Maker paddle as donor of the year.

Science student Shayne Oberhoffner spoke at the event about how completing co-operative education work terms exposed him to new career possibilities.

“To me, the opportunity to participate in the Co-op experience provided reinforcement for the classroom and laboratory lessons. It put my learning in context. It demonstrated that the skills I had tried to fit into the mold could be supplemented by, and transferrable to, areas of research I once denigrated. It showed me another path to becoming an impactful, informed scientist. And I’m happy to say, this all culminated for me this week with several offers for graduate studies.”

Liana Thompson is excited to be leading the new centre as its inaugural director.

She noted that the opportunities provided by the CECE will help students develop, articulate, and recognize career-related skills.

‘We want students to be thinking about how to connect their education to their career earlier, more often, with more exposure to more opportunities. With the support of this generous donation from RBC Foundation through the Future Launch fund, we will be able to do so much more to help our students bring career planning and preparation into their education.”

She remembers thinking that there was a disconnection between her academic studies and her job skills when she entered the job market as a young university graduate. But in retrospect, she feels she was well actually well prepared, she just didn’t know how to articulate it.

“We want our new Centre for Experiential and Career Education to help students make the connection, and to recognize that their academic experience has career relevance,” she said. “Their group assignments prove they can work on a team. Juggling courses shows that they have a handle on time management. Students learn how to meet deadlines, work with different people, collaborate in groups, advocate for themselves, and assess situations and propose solutions to problems.”

Through the initiatives and services provided by CECE, many more UFV students will get the chance to integrate experiential learning into their education. One early project resulting from the RBC donation will be a career planning app for use on smart phones.

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