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What you learn in the classroom is only half the story.

For many students, connecting the dots between their academics and career aspirations can be tough. The links between what we learn in the classroom and how that applies to the world of work can be unclear. Opportunities to integrate learning opportunities in the workplace are an incredible asset for learning about the relevant opportunities in your field early on.

Three years ago, I started in the Co-operative Education program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada – a decision that has changed the way I look at post-secondary education. When I started my journey in the School of Communication, I had no idea where my studies would take me, let alone how my studies would be useful in the workplace.

Co-op and internship programs (also often known as “work-integrated learning”) give students a first step into the professional world. To-date, I have worked three very different jobs – in non-profit, higher education, and now at SAP – something I never would have thought possible before completing my undergraduate degree.

On Monday, July 23, the Honorable Melanie Mark, British Columbia’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training was at SAP Vancouver to announce that the government is investing $1.9 million in one-time funding for work-integrated learning programs at 25 post-secondary institutions across BC.

We were first approached by the government to be the host location for this announcement thanks to SAP’s reputation as an employer committed to impactful work experiences for students. At SAP Vancouver alone, there are 175 iXp interns (a number that the Minister’s office initially didn’t believe) all playing an integral role to their teams.

Before the announcement, Minister Mark and local Member of the Legislative Assembly, Spencer Chandra-Herbert, had the opportunity to meet with a few of our employees and tour our office. Cynthia Lee, an intern on the analytics product management team gave a demo of the SAP Digital Boardroom, and Christine Kuo, Anthony Siu, Wongi Zewde, and Luc Murakami presented some of the latest innovations from our d-shop. Our special guests were particularly impressed that 36% of SAP Vancouver interns either extend their internship or are converted to full time employment. They also appreciated learning more about the social purpose thread that weaves through everything we do at SAP.

As a co-op student, this announcement, and SAP’s investment in early talent overall is incredibly exciting – to know that there is a continued commitment towards developing robust work-integrated learning programs is integral to nurturing SAP’s culture of innovation. Even a few short years ago, I would have never believed I could find my niche at one the largest enterprise software companies in the world. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to join SAP nearly a year ago. I’ll be returning to my studies in a few short weeks – but with any luck, I won’t be gone long!

Ryan is a fourth year Communication student at Simon Fraser University, and a communications specialist intern in the Office of the Managing Director at SAP Labs Canada, based in Vancouver, BC. Ryan is one of three interns who facilitates local communications in our Canadian Labs locations.

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