Virtual work placements open up new opportunities for students

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Asli Demeril and Jacob Rajan, GBConnects 2020

Asli Demeril spent her final semester of the Human Resources Management program working remotely with a small charity in eastern Ontario — a great opportunity with a growing organization she says may not have been available to her had she done an in-person work placement. 

All work-integrated learning opportunities shifted from in-person to virtual placements this spring due to COVID-19 and students Asli and Jacob Rajan from the School of Computer Technology are among those having positive experiences and picking up remote working skills. 

Asli and Jacob are pictured above taking part in the virtual George Brown College event in August 2020.

Asli completed her program in August and says the shift to virtual work integrated learning provides opportunities for students to complete placements outside of the Greater Toronto Area. “The charity is actually located in Perth, Ontario and I’m in Toronto so in normal circumstances they wouldn’t really think of hiring someone in Toronto,” she said. “George Brown making the shift to virtual work integrated learning really opened up the opportunity for organizations like this one to have students in Toronto work for them.” 

‘I really wanted to make a difference’ 

Asli completed her virtual work placement with mental health charity Iris the Dragon, which provides mental health educational resources for schools, workplaces and the community. She conducted an organizational analysis and drafted health and safety, hiring, diversity and inclusion and other policies for the charity. 

“In human resources we look into how a business operates and legal requirements an organization needs to have in place in terms of policies,” she said, adding she focused on making her work relevant for a small organization looking to expand. 

“I really wanted to make a difference,” she said. “I had a really good opportunity because this was like a start-up where they needed something from me, and I was able to deliver.” 

Developing virtual collaboration skills 

Jacob Rajan completed his virtual work placement with an organization much closer to home—George Brown— and gained valuable insights as a business analyst with the college's work-integrated learning office as part of the Information Systems Business Analysis program. After completing the program in August, Jacob returned to George Brown in September 2020 to start the Health Informatics program. He hopes to work as a business analyst in the health care sector. 

He quickly learned how to improve virtual teamwork and workflow by holding regular meetings to check in with colleagues. His work led to the creation of a new digital system for the college to track industry partnerships and agreements. 

“What we did was create a central repository where college officials can upload agreements. Anyone at the college will be able to view the agreements,” he said.  

This digital system saves time and promotes collaboration by making it easy for employees across George Brown to leverage existing industry relationships at the college. 

“I would strongly recommend going into a virtual work placement because there’s a lot of opportunity to learn,” Jacob said. “Right now, in the IT sector everything is going online. You might be talking to people in different time zones and we need the necessary collaboration skills to manage the world virtually.” 

Read about hospitality students’ virtual work placements