Bayview Glen student Arman Momeni participated in a summer co-op experience at the Toronto Zoo
That’s one way to summarize a memorable summer for a dozen Bayview Glen (BVG) students, all of them in Grade 11.
Impactful would be another adjective to encapsulate the experience.
“Going into my placement, I expected to be treated like a student, not an employee,” says Arman Momeni. “However, that could not have been further from the truth.”
Arman earned a coveted spot in a Summer Co-op Education experience facilitated by the Student Services Department at BVG and external organizations. His took place at the Reproductive Sciences Research Lab at the Toronto Zoo.
“From my first day at the placement, I was treated like a colleague and was given the same expectations as a paid worker,” continues Arman. “While challenging to get used to, the realism of this experience has provided me with so much beneficial experience and training to become a master in the workplace.”
Meanwhile, in downtown Toronto, 10 other BVG students were immersed in a month-long experiential learning opportunity in healthcare at Mount Sinai Hospital.
“This experience has definitely had a great influence on my career decision,” says Rojin Ahmadi, who was placed in the Neo-natal intensive care unit at Mount Sinai. “Before participating in this program, I have always known I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, but I was not completely sure in what setting (hospital, private clinic, research lab, care facilities). However, after working in the hospital for a whole month in the NICU, I formed an idea,” she says.
Bayview Glen student Rojin Ahmadi, pictured left, completed her summer co-op placement in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mount Sinai Hospital
Rojin and her schoolmates underwent a strenuous process to earn their placements. It included completing a detailed application form and going through an interview before being selected.
“We interviewed 158 students in June,” says Theresa Shiel, Senior Manager, Volunteer Resources, referring to the co-op program the hospital runs in September and February, from which only 52 students are selected to participate.
Shiel oversees the Student Co-op program across Sinai Health. “BVG students were interviewed among 30 students seeking summer placement,” she says.
“My goal is that the students are learning,” continues Shiel, who has been part of Volunteer Services at the hospital for more than 20 years. We start with an information session introducing our co-op program and positions available to the students.Those interested have the opportunity to complete an application. We interview them and if selected these students receive onboarding documentation (confidentiality, privacy, etc.) and e-learning modules.”
Shiel and a colleague meet with each candidate for 30 minutes to ensure the right fit.
Theresa Shiel and Ramiro Rodriguez Puig plan, organize and coordinate student co-op opportunities at Mount Sinai
“I don’t believe in just looking at resumes. I need to meet the students,” says Shiel who works within a team of six. “We want to know about what they want and what they hope to gain from us. We have a scale. Do we think that they’re the right students? Some of our placements have only one position, like cardiology, surgical skills, fracture clinic, etc. You could have 20 students interested, so we really have to then go back and look at every application. We have to look at our notes. Then we go back to a shortlist, then we might re-interview. We might do a whole bunch of things before we pick the right student. And we’ve been pretty good at picking all the right students,” she says.
Ramiro Rodriguez Puig is Co-op Coordinator, Volunteer Resources at Mount Sina Hospital. He works directly with schools and students interested in placement opportunities.
“It is really rewarding,” says Rodriguez Puig, referring to his role. “They [students] are adding value to Mount Sinai Hospital. We have supervisors here [from various hospital departments] who give us feedback and they really appreciate the students’ work.”
The Co-op Program at Mt. Sinai receives applications from more than 30 schools including from the Toronto Catholic School Board, Toronto District School Board, along with two private schools.
Ten students participated in a co-op education experience in July 2023 at Mount Sinai, among a total of 12 BVG students to take part in the experiential opportunity
Students also earn a credit as part of the Cooperative Education course.
“Our goal is to seek out opportunities in the desired industry [of each student],” says Dybala. “When they apply, they express an interest they would like to explore and then we let them know whether there is a placement available in that industry. Then they actually have to apply for the position and send in a resume.”
Dybala’s multi-layered role is hands-on and detailed from inception to delivery.
“I am responsible for directing, coordinating, and overseeing the entire cooperative student experience,” she says. “Starting with procuring placements, scheduling, and preparation for interviews, delivery of curriculum, design of a student cooperative education plan, placement visits, supervisor partnership facilitation (how and what activities students can and should engage in to ensure their experience is authentic and enriched).”
The impact is tangible.
Bayview Glen student Brandon Tai participated in a summer experiential opportunity at Qvella.
“The Cooperative Education course prepares you extremely well for the application process,” says Brandon Tai, who completed a placement at Qvella, a clinical diagnostics company with a focus in microbiology. “Every Friday we had class, and the very first unit was on preparing for the application. We went through interview and resume tips as well as cover letters. This unit significantly helped me land my placement at Qvella”.
This is the first in a series on the Summer Co-op Education Experience 2023.