Conversations with Goodman podcast host Susan LeBlanc talks to Gillian Kemp, relationship manager for Service-Learning in Co-op, Career & Experiential Education about the success of Service-Learning at the University as the programming passes a ten year milestone.
Kemp (MBA ’06) graduated from the first Goodman School of Business MBA class and was one of the founders of the MBA Association, now called the Goodman Graduate Business Council. Her vision was to add value to the student experience by giving students an opportunity to apply their skills, something she has not lost sight of 10 years later.
The Service-Learning model connected students with local not-for-profit organizations to help address business challenges they were facing. Students got the benefit of applying their knowledge and skills and community partners benefitted from a fresh look at their business models and new ideas they could implement.
The model proved to be a winning combination.
“It was so successful when we added it to classes that it took over the program,” explains Kemp.
“In the past 10 years, students have provided close to $3-million worth of consulting services to the community. We’ve seen organizations grow up with us and have connected them with student teams repeatedly that have helped them grow their core business functions incrementally through the years,” she said.
In 2012, Service-Learning expanded from not-for-profit organizations to include local small businesses, a Goodman initiative that Kemp says aimed to not only strengthen the social fabric but also the economic fabric of Niagara.
“The work students do with Service-Learning translates into real experience they can add to their resume. It becomes the stories they tell to differentiate themselves from their competition,” she said.
“It also challenges students more and can connect them more to their career paths. We provide a connection to a community partner in a professional capacity, which will often lead to requests for summer jobs and co-op work terms from the organization,” she said.
Service-Learning has taken off from there and is now expanded across the University in a variety of disciplines.
“When we looked at expanding experiential education, we looked to some of the best practices that were structured well and Goodman was one of these areas,” says Cara Boese, Director of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education.
“Service-Learning is a component of experiential education and we have embedded it alongside career education as part of our model,” Boese said.
“We want students to have different experiences, both curricularly and co-curricularly. Service-Learning allows them to have experiences that map to competencies and skills, which really starts to fill the gap of the ‘how do I get a job without experience and how do I get experience without a job?’ paradox,” Boese said.
After reflecting on how far Service-Learning has come at Brock in the past 10 years, Boese looks ahead to when Service-Learning and experiential education can reach more first and second year students that will better prepare them before they go to their first co-op or employment opportunity.
As part of the University-wide initiative to increase capacity in this area, four experiential education coordinator positions were added earlier this year to provide more resources to Faculties across campus.
This podcast is the latest in the Conversations with Goodman series which is produced by the Goodman Marketing, Communications and Alumni Relations team and features guests from the Goodman community.