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.

How Advocating For Yourself Leads To Academic Success?

By Iyvan Chandran

Self-advocacy is not only useful for supporting changes that students want to see in their institutions, but can also be applied beyond the academic scope. It may be the most important foundational skill to be successful in university. In my opinion, students can only thrive in university if they are able to find their place on campus. 

So what is self-advocacy?

Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for what is needed. It enables you to understand your strengths and weaknesses, identify what is needed to succeed and communicate that to others.

Benefits of self-advocacy

  • Finding creative solutions to challenges that others may not be aware of 
  • Building self-confidence in your ability to learn
  • Creating a sense of ownership over your learning style
  • Developing persistence through independence and self-empowerment 

Self advocacy can range from requesting certain courses to be taught in your program for career readiness to seeking resources to help with learning disabilities.  Visit the campus support system to keep yourself updated on what academic accommodations are available.

When FEAS students realized that there was lack of  support for classes outside of office hours and labs, many advocated for a creative solution. This was done through student groups and societies and now we have course tutorials. To learn more about this, I reached out to the advocacy legend of RyEng; Electrical Engineering alumni Karol Bahnan. During our conversation he told me about his experience of advocacy through holding tutorials for courses.

Karol Bahnan (Ryerson Student Leader)

“Hosting academic and professional tutorials was one of the ways I was able to contribute to the community. Attending them in my freshman year myself enabled my growth of knowledge and professional attitude. Once I entered my senior year, I strived to advocate for the academic success of the community.”

Karol advocated for Ryerson Engineering by hosting over 100 tutorials for courses students struggle with. He also hosted an industry professional night to address the lack of interaction between recruiters and Ryerson Engineering students, created a Ryerson soccer club to boost inclusivity on campus, and increased the amount of resources available to students by the RECESS exam bank. His notable involvement on campus also includes Ryerson Board of Governors and RECESS President. By addressing these issues and getting involved within the community, Karol was able to familiarize himself with the resources available and find his place on campus. 

You may be wondering “how does this apply to me, I am just a student on campus”. I am glad to inform you that you are not limited to going to class and completing your work. There are many services on campus that are available to you, and any member on campus can create their own group or initiative.

Any problem you have a creative solution to that will benefit students can be brought up at local student society meetings which will result in a better academic experience for everyone. Recently you may have noticed an abundance in support for students now that learning has evolved to an online experience. This was possible through the advocacy of students, faculty, and staff. As engineers and architects we should be aiming to solve problems that society faces, but we can’t really do that unless we are able to advocate for ourselves. 

Want to create a new student group? Please refer to the links below:

To learn more about advocacy and how it can be applied to yourself register for the upcoming PNP events below:

Want to Boost Your Career Prospects? Read the Following Tips From a Recent Alumna!

By Julian Faita

Developing your career prospects can take a lot of hard work and dedication, especially as a student! This is probably because career development can mean different things to different people. For some it is finding a meaningful job, for others it is being an entrepreneur, and for some it it is going back to graduate school. We spend so much time on picking the right major and choosing the right courses, that oftentimes we forget the impact getting involved in extracurriculars can have. Joining design teams, student groups, and research teams can really help with landing your dream job coming out of university. Then again the more I think about it, the more I realize that there is no one right path for everyone. So I thought that we should ask an expert who has thought about all these questions that we overthink every single day.

Meet Samantha Slewa

Samantha graduated from Ryerson University in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a specialization in Mechatronics. She started the program in 2015 and completed an internship after her third year. Currently she works as a Technology Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Samantha spends her free time trying new recipes, playing the guitar, and learning Spanish. Fun fact: Samantha is an expert chess player!

Undergraduate Journey 

During her four years in university, Samantha spent 16 months interning with Toronto Hydro in 2018-2019. She worked in the downtown Toronto office as a “Senior Technical Student – Generation Planning & System Studies” while producing technical standards and developing scripts using Python. She spent her final year at Ryerson as a Teaching Assistant for the Introduction to Engineering Design course (MEC325) taught by Dr. Filippo Salustri and Dr. Patrick Neumann. Samantha spent her time studying hard while balancing work as well as extracurriculars. In addition to all this, she also served as the Vice-President of Communications for the Ryerson Mechanical Engineering Course Union (MECU) where she managed the social media platforms and designed graphics for the organization.

Samantha Now

During her last year at Ryerson, Samantha applied for the position of Technology Consultant Associate at PwC. After successful interviews, she was hired for this role in February of her last year at Ryerson and started working there this September. Samantha is working full-time from home and loves her job! She attributes the successes in her career thus far to a few tips and tricks.

Tips & Tricks

Samantha clearly has some insider knowledge of how to land your dream job and develop your career. Lucky for us, she was open to sharing this knowledge!

  1. Try to get involved in as many extracurriculars as possible (within reason) as early on as you can! This is a great way to show employers your skills with little to no work experience. Make sure to showcase your extracurricular experience on your resume and emphasize the skills that you’ve used along the way!
  1. Get your resume reviewed by the Ryerson Career & Co-op Centre (RCCC)! Ryerson has numerous great resources to help you build your dream career and that all starts with getting your resume reviewed and critiqued by a professional. The RCCC  is super helpful and will definitely help you make sure that your resume is in tip top shape.
  1. Prepare for your interview in detail! Make sure you know tons of information about the job and the company to showcase that you are invested and truly interested in the position. This way you can ‘wow’ the company with your knowledge and hopefully impress your interviewer.
  1. Don’t let a rejection keep you down! When applying for jobs don’t let rejections hold you back! Oftentimes, you won’t know why you didn’t get a job and it could be for any number of reasons. Don’t let this get you down and keep applying! There are lots of jobs out there that you’ll be great at.

All in all…

Just remember that career development comes in many different forms, through school, extracurriculars, and even your own personal growth! Keep in mind the tips of getting involved as much as possible, getting your resume reviewed at RCCC, preparing for your interviews in detail, and not letting rejections hold you back. For further insight into where your Ryerson degree can take you, attend the “Career Pathways” Masterclass on Tuesday November 17th from 4pm to 5pm.

What Style of Leadership Suits You?

By Shoeb Islam

University is a place where students can find opportunities around every corner. If you are ambitious, you might have asked yourself questions ranging from “How do I spend my time outside of classes?” to “How do I want to make a change?”. Although your classes make up a solid foundation for what you are expected to know for the workforce, it may not be enough as some companies may look for other types of skills beyond what you are taught in school. As increasing innovation in Engineering and Architecture puts these careers in higher demand, leadership becomes an important aspect of the process. According to the National Society of Engineers, all engineering students seeking to become professional engineers (P.Eng) must show certain aptitude in leadership. Similarly, Architects also require a high degree of skill in leadership to lead the design and planning process of large-scale infrastructures. 

Although skills in leadership are very important, there is not a simple formula to become an exceptional leader. There are many different styles of leadership, and each person has their own unique approach. To find out more, I have interviewed notable student leaders within FEAS to find out their thoughts on: leadership, their style of leadership, and the skills or values that they think effective leaders must have.

  1. Reza Khonsari, MASc Civil Engineering

Reza Khonsari is a first year MASc student in Civil Engineering. He has been involved in many different societies during his time as an undergraduate student including:

  • Board of Governors within Ryerson University (2019-2020)
  • Ryerson Engineering Competition as the Chair (2017 – 2018)
  • RESS as the VP Academic (2017-2018) and as the Director for Civil Engineering (2016-2017)
  • FEAS as a Project Manager (2017)

Thoughts on Leadership

As a leader, Reza thinks you must have a strong and clear vision and use it to help others to find their purpose. You need to be able to find the strengths and interests of your team members to empower them and make sure that everyone is engaged. By doing so, you will be increasing the confidence, passion, and self-accountability within your team. By just sparking an interest in one person and motivating them to achieve their purpose, you have done your duties as a leader. 

Style of Leadership

Reza likes to find out the strengths and interests of everyone he works with by spending time with them. This allows Reza to delegate tasks appropriately and give them the platform to work on areas that would make them shine. Having each member maximize their strength and interest would eventually lead to a very efficient team where everything gets done on time. This also results in a team where everyone feels welcomed to bring up new ideas and suggestions no matter what. 

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Aside from confidence, commitment and competence, Reza believes a good leader needs to have an outstanding character. Integrity and good ethics are what build good leaders that can inspire others and achieve a goal. When you have a group of people looking up to you, you must make sure you are setting an excellent example while working towards your vision. Additionally, a good leader should be able to motivate their peers to push forward during tough times.

  1. Iyvan Chandran, B.Eng Computer Engineering

Iyvan is a final year undergraduate student in Computer Engineering. He is currently in school part time while spending most of his free time working on his Startup, Alpha Libertée. He has been heavily involved in numerous societies including:

  • Board of Governors within Ryerson University (2019-2020)
  • RSU as the VP Education (2019)
  • RESS as the VP Academic (2018-2019) and the Director for Computer Engineering (2017-2018) 
  • Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference as the Sponsorship Lead (2019-2020) and as the Operations Lead (2016-2017) 

Thoughts on Leadership

To Iyvan leadership means working together to reach a goal whilst making sure everyone improves their skillset and has a fun time!

Style of Leadership

Iyvan’s style of leadership is personal. Iyvan gets to know his team members on a personal level so he can create a meaningful connection with them. This allows him the ability to have a fun time with his team which makes work enjoyable and something to look forward to.  Through this method it is easy to identify blockers and understand the personal goals of everyone which allows him to delegate tasks that are inline with their desires.

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Through his experience as the CTO and Co-Founder of Alpha Libertée, Iyvan believes that a leader must be knowledgeable and experienced. He also thinks that leaders should be very approachable and highly efficient, as a leader exists to lead a team and not boss them around.  

  1. Treya Vyas, BArchSc Architectural Science

Treya is a third-year undergraduate student in Architectural Science. She has been involved in multiple  societies including:

  • Ryerson’s Architectural Science Student Society as the Principal (Present)
  • TimberFever as the VP Communications (2020)
  • Ryerson Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as the Concept Designer (2020) 
  • RAAS as the Creative Director (2019-2020).

Thoughts on Leadership

Treya regards leadership as being the communication and organizational influence between a leader and their team. This requires a great deal of transparency and shared vision within the entire team. 

Style of Leadership

Treya leads by example. She has worked with various teams, from being a peer mentor in high school to a supervisor at her food service job, to now a student society principal. Although these are all very distinct positions, they all hold great value and importance to her.  

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Treya understands that a good leader must have a vision that they are ambitious to accomplish as they lead their team in an inspiring way. This combined with the courage and perseverance, a leader and their team can accomplish whatever task may come in their path. 

  1. Arianna Economou, B.Eng. Chemical Engineering

Arianna is a third-year undergraduate student in Chemical Engineering. She has helped co-found a new club within Ryerson that advocates and provides opportunities for women in Engineering. She is involved in societies below:

  • Ryerson Women in Engineering as the Co-President and Co-Founder (Present)
  • RESS as the Director of Chemical Engineering (Present) and the First Year Engineering Board (2018-2019).

Thoughts on Leadership

Arianna considers leadership as being the ability to bring people from different backgrounds and experiences together to find the best solutions for a problem. She also believes in leadership being the means to give the individuals on a team the confidence and necessary tools to succeed. This success will not only affect the team’s goals, but also their individual goals as well. 

Style of Leadership

Arianna’s leadership style is very collaborative and guidance-based. She likes to provide her team with advice and work through problems with them together. She feels this is a great approach as it allows the team to learn for themselves while also feeling as if they are not solving problems by themselves. 

Values in Identifying a Good Leader

Arianna believes that open-mindedness and flexibility are very important characteristics in identifying a good leader. As there are so many ways to approach a problem, Arianna understands that having an open mind is vital, and having flexibility allows one to swiftly adjust to any issues that arise in their plans. Also, through emphasizing these characteristics, Arianna trusts it creates a space for teammates to feel comfortable in bringing up new and unique ideas without fearing criticism or rejection. 

Concluding thoughts

There are many different styles of leadership, and each person has their own unique philosophy of leadership. I personally believe that you do not need to be in a position of power to display qualities of leadership. Some of the greatest leaders that I know are not involved in student clubs, but display qualities of leadership much better than most student leaders within FEAS. As long as you are passionate about what you are doing, and have a clear goal and ambition in mind, then it is a matter of building a team that shares the same ideals as you. From there, you will need to gain skills in organizing your team and knowing them on a personal level can help you around that.

My style of leadership is based around objectives. I try to play to the strengths and weaknesses of my teammates and ensure that everyone is feeling comfortable and having the best experience. 

The most important value that I believe a leader should possess is empathy and humour. In order to lead people, you must understand them first. Through making these connections, you can maximize the efficiency of your team. Humour is important because good leaders should not be only about work. They should also look towards keeping the team spirit up! Finally, leaders should always strive to learn as much as possible to improve their own skills and lead more effectively.

To learn more about what leadership opportunities are available on campus, fill out the FYI inquiry form and a peer connector will get back to you within 24 hours. If you would like to discuss how to build leadership skills, make a 1:1 appointment with a Peer Advisor here. Lastly I would also recommend that you register for the “Virtual Teamwork & Collaboration” Masterclass on Friday November 13th from 1pm-2pm here.

The author, Shoeb Islam, is a fourth year electrical engineering student at Ryerson University. Shoeb is part of the first ever Peer Network Program (PNP) student staff team. He is excited to serve as a Peer Connector for the academic year 2020-2021.