Experiential Learning: The Benefits Will Last a Lifetime!

By Samantha Cesario

When asked about their university experience, many graduates say that one of the main highlights for them was their involvement in extracurricular activities. Whether it be bonding with your design team or holding events with your fellow society, involvement throughout university not only makes for a fun-filled journey, but allows us to succeed in our future careers. 

Meet Emily Saleh

Emily Saleh is a Ryerson Structural Engineering graduate with a specialization in building science. Emily currently works in the forensics industry where she has investigated files related to water infiltration, concrete deterioration, fire damage, membrane failures, poor construction and structural damage.

Having graduated in 2009 Emily was able to share how much Ryerson has grown in terms of experiential learning opportunities and how these are communicated with us. Emily was an active member of Ryerson’s Concrete Toboggan Team and was a regular attendee of the FEAS Career Fairs. 

Emily’s involvement on her student design team made for an unforgettable experience and one that she will carry on with her throughout her career. She was able to meet new friends, get hands on experience, and expand her network.

Meet Ali Asad

Ali Asad graduated from Ryerson University in 2020 with a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering (Mechatronics Option) degree. He did his internship in the Nuclear Power industry and is now working as a Project Engineer for OPG and Bruce Power projects.

Throughout his degree Ali was fortunate enough to become the Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Corporate Relations on the Ryerson Engineering Student Society (RESS), work for the first Year Engineering Office and partake in the Co-operative Internship Program

Making New Friends 

Emily’s Journey

Emily’s experience on the Ryerson Engineering Concrete Toboggan Team (RECTT) was a lot of fun. It forced her to meet and work with a lot of people she hadn’t gotten to know previously, get to know students in different years and engage with professors in a different way. After being a part of RECTT she felt a sense of community with her teammates and wishes she had joined it in earlier years.

Ali’s Journey

Ali’s involvement on the Ryerson Engineering Student’s Society (RESS) not only allowed him to meet people on the team but also provided him with an opportunity to expand his professional network by collaborating with student groups, societies and external organizations. Through RESS, he was also able to connect with Ryerson Alumni who had been on the board previously and received mentorship about academic and career opportunities. Ali was able to connect with other student leaders nationally as well as industry professionals and collaborate with them on initiatives that helped him professionally. 

How Experiential Learning Can Help You Prepare for Your Future

Emily’s Thoughts

Experiential learning is an amazing way to understand a concept and how you can use it to accomplish a goal. You spend a lot of time learning the theory and the concepts in school, however how you apply them when working is not the same. She found that experiential learning through student societies, design teams, and/or a co-operative internship program help teach students the interpersonal skills that aren’t the main focus during classroom learning. Co-ops are an especially great way to take a test run of a career path as it’s short term. So if you don’t enjoy it, you can consider pursuing a different path.” 

Ali’s Thoughts

Experiential learning is a great way to be prepared for the future after university. The Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ) is a great resource to develop technical skills through hands-on learning whereas student groups provide you with a platform to brush up your soft skills and build leadership acumen. Similarly, co-op is really important as it provides you with professional experience and prepares you for the job market after graduation by providing you with industry specific skills.

Benefits of Experiential Learning outside of University

We can see how experiential learning enhances one’s university career and creates unforgettable memories. Yet what is often forgotten is how these experiences benefit one’s professional career. Ali participated in the Engineering Faculty’s Cooperative Internship program which left him with an expanded network and real-life problem-solving skills. His co-op experience allowed him to meet interns from engineering schools across Canada and develop professional relationships with industry leaders who were helpful in connecting him to job opportunities after graduation. As Ali claims, his internship offer was a direct result of his extra-curricular involvement. His experience even landed him a fulltime job out of University. “Ryerson is full of resources and extra-curricular involvement, make sure you use it, professional companies are looking.”

List of benefits that experiential learning involvement can lead to:

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Increased Professional Network
  • Professional Communication (written and verbal)
  • Hands-on technical experience

Experiential learning plays an important part in one’s university experience. Ryerson provides students with many resources to get involved and take a break from constant studying. Aside from all the professional and interpersonal benefits, it is always fun to get involved in new projects! As you prepare for the upcoming exams, make sure to attend the “Staying Active During Exam Period” Masterclass on Tuesday, December 1st.

**As of April 2022, Ryerson University has been renamed Toronto Metropolitan University**

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