New doors will open for Kwantlen Polytechnic University students following an appointment to bolster its work experience programs.
Anthropology instructor Larissa Petrillo has been named lead advisor for work-integrated learning, the umbrella term for students sampling various industry, developing soft skills and learning job search techniques to help them secure work before and after their studies. These opportunities can be gained through practicums, internships and co-operative education.
“KPU is a leader in work-integrated learning approaches due to the sheer number of classes that we offer in this area. We have more than 80 faculty members who bring incredible networked relationships to the classroom for their students,” says Petrillo.
Petrillo has considerable expertise in this area. She has been coordinating work-integrating learning projects since 2007, when these were first introduced at the University of B.C. With 15 years of experience and a network of peers, Petrillo brings a knowledge of best practices to KPU.
Since joining KPU more than a decade ago, Petrillo has been developing work-integrated learning at the university and in her own teaching. In her new role, Petrillo will be the Provost’s leading academic voice on work-integrated learning, providing advice, leadership and research to the university community. She will work with senior leadership, faculty, academic departments, student life and external partners.
“KPU understood that it was important for a person in my position to still be actively teaching. This means that I can very closely understand faculty and student needs in this area, and that I’ve worked extensively with partners to set up my own projects, so I know what these relationships mean.”
Petrillo says her position will allow her to build relationships with external partners in a more concrete way, while streamlining processes and procedures.
“We’re working on a range of initiatives that will make it easier for partners to work with us. We’re also making it easier for students to understand the value-add of these experiences and to recognize the strength of these opportunities when they have them.”
Work-integrated learning is essential because post-secondary institutions need to be able to innovate and respond to the labour market quickly and efficiently, says Petrillo.
“We need to be able to pivot as soon as there’s a community or labour market need. Connecting work-integrated learning efforts to the classroom means that we can more closely pivot and align with community needs.”