3.2 Patricia Orozco, Laurentian University


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Topics discussed in this episode include:The way WIL works in a smaller business environment in which they are located in Sudbury, Ontario, some 400 kilometers to the south. The idea is that this brings a more intimate cooperation between the university and the largely small to medium sized local businesses and provides the students with a greater range of WIL learning opportunities.The structure of the program is to have attached courses that students take online while they are on the WIL placement. Dr. Orozco teaches in this program which she refers to as a putting herself at the “back door” of the student experience to enhance learning.The employers, due to their size, often rely on the coop coordinators to act almost as part of the company like an HR department that sometimes they do not have.  This can build a particularly close relationship that helps with the student placement.The high value that the strong involvement of the Canadian government and professional organizations bring to both the employers and the universities in promoting these student experiences or WIL.  It is really something unusual, helpful to get the word out about the nature of WIL education, and not yet seen in America.The importance of size of both the student body and the city of Sudbury in providing the capacity for what amounts to a high-touch WIL program.  The concern is that if the program is expanded, perhaps from the undergraduate to the Master’s level, that it will not be sustainable.The role of entrepreneurship in executing her job as coop coordinator, but that goes back to an events development business she started at age 17 in her home town of Guadalajara, Mexico.  That business grew to about 20 people.  In her current role, she recently won a 40-under-40 award from the local business council.Extending this role model of entrepreneurship to the question of diversity and its power to teach and drive business, we discussed how her Mexican heritage is an advantage in representing this concept to students, faculty, and employers. We also discussed her work internationally to promote WIL, particularly in Latin America.Finally, we discussed the sudden switch to virtual coops as well as classes under the Covid19 pandemic and how the online course helped her and the team keep track of students and turn challenges into opportunities.  This provides opportunities for WIL management of which Dr. Orozco recently spoke at in a webinar by the Ontario Council for University Lifelong Learning on virtual internships and innovative approaches.Resources Discussed in this Episode:Laurentian UniversityFaculty of Management at LaurentianCEWILMusic Credits: C’est La Vie by Derek Clegg