What Is WIL?
By definition, WIL is an educational practice that intentionally integrates academic study in the workplace or a simulated work environment. Students reinforce their learning outcomes and academic theories through practical applications that are relevant to industry or community partners' needs.
How Does WIL Work?
- WIL is all about innovation. Students work with project partners to develop new solutions to emerging problems that impact industry and/or community stakeholders. Under faculty supervision, the student-driven ideas are presented to the project collaborators with the possibility of implementation. Read what our partners are saying.
- Students explore different aspects of business through a variety of WIL projects beginning in the first year of study, to further solidify areas of interest while exploring a variety of industries and career opportunities. This allows for the learning to be scaffolded so that the required skills are developed intentionally to facilitate more robust project work in the third and fourth years of study.
Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) in the Classroom
PROJECT NAME: Residential Delivery Model Research Report
TERM: Summer 2023
Students in Professor Kong’s Management Information Systems class applied key course concepts to an emerging parcel delivery service, @Door. Students explored @Door’s business model and strategy, as well as relevant data, to inform a final report that delves into a) marketing strategy; b) information metrics; c) corporate governance; and, d) technology analysis of the company. In addition to extensive research conducted, students leveraged data analysis using Power BI.
PROJECT NAME: Open Banking
TERM: Summer 2023
Professor Kong’s course partnered with the leaders at the Fraud Strategy Department at CIBC to learn what the emerging topic of Open Banking can mean for Canadian financial institutions. The team delivered an in-person presentation where students had the opportunity to engage with the topic and ask questions. From there, the class acted as consultants to CIBC by performing detailed market and industry research regarding Open Banking. Their final report was accompanied by a presentation on a recommended strategy and implementation plan.
PROJECT NAME: Start-up Marketing Recommendation Plan
PARTNER: African Impact Initiative
TERM: Winter 2023
Professor Dewan’s Marketing Management course is a strong example of the global WIL experience. Students in the course had the opportunity to collaborate with the 2023 cohort of the African Impact Initiative, comprising 16 start-ups within the health sector from nearly 10 pan-African countries.
Students enjoyed hands-on learning experience in applying the knowledge from the course while learning about the real-world barriers faced by different segments of entrepreneurs, specifically within African regions. Working in groups, students interacted closely with start-up founders through multiple touch-points, including Zoom sessions, to understand the founders’ specific marketing challenges and vision. This resulted in the class producing a comprehensive written recommendations report and an accompanying video-recorded presentation.
PROJECT NAME: Confectionary Business Analysis
TERM: Fall 2022
Students in Professor Ahmed’s course acted as consultants to Nestlé by helping review their confectionary business unit performance ahead of the upcoming Halloween season. The course had students working in groups to produce a) industry analysis; b) pricing strategy; and, c) production equipment enhancements. Students leveraged company data as well as background information to supplement their research.
PROJECT NAME: Inclusive Leadership
TERM: Winter 2023
Professor Heathcote’s Management Skills class partnered with RBC to study and make recommendations regarding the practice of inclusive leadership and creating an environment of belonging. Students worked in groups to apply course concepts and develop a presentation that informs RBC leadership of their learnings and an implementation plan that could be potentially leveraged in an RBC orientation program. The top projects were selected for presentation to RBC leadership.
- Enhancing stakeholders’ knowledge of inclusive leadership, belonging and othering, and their relevance and application to a variety of populations i.e. how they are understood, defined, and the issues of greatest importance to a particular population or culture.
- Potentially experiencing vulnerability with less familiar people, with the goal of understanding their experiences.
- Recognizing that empathy and self-awareness are key to developing one’s own sense of inclusive leadership.
- Developing the hard and soft skills related to confirming expectations and communicating findings to an organization.
- Honing research skills to ensure relevant and valid information is presented.
PROJECT NAME: Adapting Agile Methodology
PARTNER: HP Canada
TERM: Winter 2023
Students were tasked with researching the popular project management style Agile that involves continuous testing and responsiveness to change. It is an iterative approach to completing a team-based project throughout its life cycle, with an emphasis on trust, flexibility, empowerment, and collaboration.
Typically, this approach is used in the context of software development; however, given its demonstrated effectiveness at producing highly adaptive outputs, HP Canada was interested in how they might apply the Agile approach to work within several of their business streams—including Finance/Accounting, Human Resources, Supply Chain, Sales, and Business Development—across global operations.
Towards the end of the course, the class worked in groups to submit a recommendation report as well as present an executive summary to the partner.
Demonstrate understanding of key organizational behaviour (OB) concepts and theories.
Demonstrate ability to recognize and apply OB knowledge.
Demonstrate use of evidence-based management in assessment and problem solving.
Demonstrate effective communication skills (e.g. concise writing, clear verbal exchanges).
Demonstrate critical analysis and problem solving.
Demonstrate interpersonal skills (e.g. managing team processes effectively).
PROJECT NAME: Scarborough Town Centre Marketing Plan
PARTNER: Scarborough Town Centre
TERM: Winter 2023
Principles of Marketing during the Winter semester saw the course partnering with the local mall, Scarborough Town Centre (STC), to deliver hands-on experience in applying the concepts and methods of marketing to a problem. Students toured the venue and received a briefing from STC management to inform their final analysis. In small groups, students created a marketing plan for STC that highlighted specific tools to support implementation. In addition to a comprehensive written report that included a strategic analysis, groups also delivered their recommendations as final presentations to cap off the semester.
PROJECT NAME: Copper Mining in Canada
PARTNER: National Bank
TERM: Winter 2023
Professor Au’s Economics of Markets and Financial Decision Marking course partnered with National Bank where students were introduced to a case study examining the copper mining industry in Canada. Through a Q&A session, the class engaged with staff from the National Bank team in order to gain a holistic understanding of the topic and factors affecting the industry. Students were then tasked to perform a SWAT analysis for a mining company along with recommending strategies to expand its operations. The groups presented their work directly to National Bank in addition to submitting a final report.
PROJECT NAME: Start-up Business Consultants
TERM: Winter 2023
Nobellum is a non-profit social and technology enterprise dedicated to creating space in the technology industry for Black founders in STEM. Students in Professor McConkey’s Consumer Behaviour class acted as consultants to the various start-ups from the 2022 Nobellum Innovator Program cohort. In close partnerships with start-up founders, students conducted extensive research to validate their business models and strategies. At the end of the semester, the founders benefitted from a detailed implementation plan.
PROJECT NAME: Research Report
PARTNER: New Venture Program Start-ups
TERM: Winter 2023
The BRIDGE is home to the New Venture Program (NVP), a rigorous incubation and mentorship program to help student start-up founders in the creation of business plans, investor decks, and go-to-market strategies. Professor McConkey’s Product Management and Branding class partnered with NVP start-up Perfect Strangers, a platform enabling like-minded individuals to share intercultural experiences. After examining the start-up case study, students produced a research report to analyze the user experience and recommend changes that support product-market fit.
PROJECT NAME: Synchronous and Asynchronous Behavioural Interviews
TERM: Winter 2023
Behavioural interviews are a key example of a multi-course WIL project involving both junior and senior students as well as external partners through industry and alumni engagement.
Students in the first-year Management Co-op workplace preparedness course have an opportunity to apply their learnings and sharpen their interview skills through both a synchronous and an asynchronous format. The interviews are designed to mimic what transpires in the recruitment landscape, whereby students participate in a one-on-one 30- minute interview with an external partner. Over the Winter 2023 semester, more than 40 unique alumni and industry partners volunteered to deliver an individual interview experience to approximately 380 students enrolled in courses. As interviews are designed to be a learning experience, employers provided either verbal or written feedback to students and an opportunity to increase their networks and professional social capital.
Students were also given an opportunity to interview with senior students of MGHD25 (Human Resources Recruitment and Selection) who identified relevant competencies for a hypothetical job posting and created behavioural interview questions with accompanying STAR probes and scoring keys (BARS). The senior class then conducted virtual interviews as a panel with first year co-op participants.
Additionally, junior co-op students recorded video interview responses in order that the MGHC02 (Management Skills) class was enabled to review and provide written performance evaluation and feedback through an online form.
- Design, conduct and score behaviour-based interviews.
- Evaluate interview performance and provide feedback.
- Demonstrate ability to orally relate skills-based stories to demonstrate experiences needed to be successful in securing a job.
PROJECT NAME: Business Analysis Data Project
TERM: Fall 2023
The project's main objective is for students to apply computer programming to the real world. Through this Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunity, students performed in-depth research and analysis of the problems provided by the project partner, engaging in small teams. The teams combined their business acumen with computer programming skills to "develop" a solution and present it to the "clients" utilizing masked data that was shared for the purpose of analysis. Through project work, students leveraged tools such as Jupyter Notebook and Github.
From the conceptual and ideas phase of the SDI project to executing the launch of the platform, the project could not have been done without the creativity, theoretical knowledge, and strong leadership skills of the UTSC students. Beginning with access to an ideas bank like the CSC 101 student body was invaluable in solving a community-based problem with the use of technology. From this group we had access to strong, enthusiastic students who transitioned smoothly into full-time co-op team members. Both semesters the co-op students were engaged and integral in moving the project forward and on time.
– Hope Nestor, Research Partnership Lead, Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership, Catholic Crosscultural Services
It was a really successful project. [My team] and I messaged one another immediately after the presentation as we were amazed at the quality of information. Many thanks for connecting us with Professor Radhakrishnan.
– Lina Wang, HR Business Partner and Talent Acquisition, HP Canada (Course Integration: Introduction to Industrial Relations)
The majority of the presentations were outstanding, and have certainly given us a lot to think about. If you would like to use OMERS again for any future student assessments, we would love to be included.
– Gillian Macgregor-Spurr, Manager, Leadership & Digital Learning, OMERS (Course Integration: Management Skills)
WIL Resources for Employers
Types of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)
Co-op consists of paid work terms that alternate between academic terms. Work terms provide experience in a workplace setting related to the student’s field of study. The number of required work terms varies by program; however, the time spent in work terms must be at least 30% of the time spent in academic study.
Mentorship, space, and/or funding is provided to engage students in the early-stage development of business start-ups either for academic credit or through our co-curricular New Venture Program. Developmental formation is self-directed with strong foundational business theory to set students up for success as entrepreneurs or corporate innovators. See also: The BRIDGE.
Student research that addresses specific needs of an external partner organization, often taking place in the field. Characteristics include: student-generated research questions, methodologies, conceptual frameworks, and project management plans under academic supervision. Students analyze the collected information or data to reinforce their understanding of how research outcomes relate to the concepts from their academic curriculum. Projects often focus on consulting, design, market research and analysis, data analytics, and community-focused initiatives.
Short-term, practical activities outside of the classroom in a setting relevant to the student’s academic discipline offering intensive practical skills development. Students may investigate similarities and differences amongst multiple environments, or focus on a specific outcome. These experiences prepare students for professional fields where there might not be formal certification.
Competitive events such as case competitions and hackathons in which teams work on industry-provided projects over a short period of time, such as a weekend or a week. These events are often sponsored and judged by industry representatives who work with U of T staff, faculty, and students to co-develop a case based on a present-day industry challenge. Long-term engagements include the Student Managed Fund, where students gain experience by managing simulated investment portfolios on the actual market, and the Management Consulting Group.