Laurier student starts initiative to support students who don’t receive co-op placements

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Photo by Luke Sarazin

A Wilfrid Laurier University student is starting an initiative to assist business students who are rejected from the co-operative education program.

The initiative is called “Laurier Mentor Connect” and was started a few months ago by Syed Azam Afzal, a third-year bachelor of business administration student at Laurier.

“The main purpose really is to just help students. When you get the results for not getting into co-op or for non co-op students in general, you don’t know where to go,” Afzal said.

Applications to the business and economics co-op program open up to students at the end of their first-year. The program offers them three terms of work experience in addition to academic credit.

Not getting in can be a devastating blow to some students, who may not know what other options they have.

“Sure the Career Centre, it’s mentioned, but you don’t know how useful it’s going to be unless someone actually has gone through the process with them where they’ve checked your resume, cover letter, mock interviews and so on,” Afzal said.

“You realize how useful it is when you hear from someone else who’s done it,” Afzal said.

This is precisely the function that Afzal thinks Laurier Mentor Connect could serve.

“My goal is to — obviously the applications for the clubs are closed right now for fall — so I’m going to give it a shot next term and apply with all the members that I have and see where it goes from there.”

“That’s what my main purpose is: to connect people to students that have already gone through the process and are willing to seek help,” Afzal said.

“It’s really cool when you connect to a mentor, like a third or fourth-year student, when you’re in first and second year,” Afzal said.

“Whenever you have questions you can ask them at any point in time, and so on. So I find that really useful,” Afzal said.

Afzal initially got the idea to start Laurier Mentor Connect after completing a project in one of his classes.

Beginning as an informal collection of interested mentors and mentees, Afzal plans to bring his initiative to the Students’ Union and to make it an official club.

“My goal is to — obviously the applications for the clubs are closed right now for fall — so I’m going to give it a shot next term and apply with all the members that I have and see where it goes from there,” Afzal said.

He was motivated to begin the process in order to ensure that the initiative could have some staying power.

“I feared that — you know, it was back in October or late September and October when the co-op results came out — and I feared that if it wasn’t somewhere at Laurier, it would just disappear as the years progressed,” Afzal said.

Afzal also explained that he hopes to open Laurier Mentor Connect up to, not just business students, but to all students at Laurier.

“I just really wanted to emphasize that I really started the initiative obviously to help non-co-op students at first, but then also to go into helping everyone. Not just non-co-op,” Afzal said.

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