SFU BeedieThe Beedie School of Business prides itself on giving students “experiential learning.” Here’s why
Peter Tingling, associate dean of undergraduate programs for the Beedie School of Business, is unapologetically proud of his institution’s success in helping raw talent mature into confident professionals. “We do several things very well, and one that is key is something I describe as the difference between watching a movie passively and acting in a play,” he says.
Tingling is referring to the fact that Beedie prioritizes experiential learning, which is accomplished partly by a thriving co-op program that gives students real-world workplace experience during their studies—whether it’s in a small, private company or a large government organization. Co-op students compete for job offers and work full time for four or eight months, which not only earns them an income but more importantly gives them the practical and social skills that will make them valuable to other employers upon graduation.
Tingling points out that experiential learning is evident throughout the Simon Fraser University campuses shared by Beedie. “If we define experiential as getting involved in different things, we have co-curricular opportunities such as case competitions, the hands-on managing of projects, and many student clubs that are conduits to tons of events and activities,” he says. “We encourage new students to regard all this as a buffet they should start sampling immediately.”
Beedie also differentiates itself from other respected business education institutions by the flexibility of its program: it works for the students, allowing them to choose the path and concentrations that most interest them. “This encourages a sense of independence, to the point where students who used to be introverted often become more inclined to move away from their comfort zone and interact with people they don’t know, which is essential to their future success in the business world,” says Tingling.
Another Beedie focus is interdisciplinary studies, which allows students to broaden their experience by taking programs with students from other faculties. For example, the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship offers the Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is open to students in any SFU faculty.
All of this is anchored by Beedie’s having developed a strong network in the regional business community. Just as co-op students venture out to work in the “real” world, “members of the business community routinely visit our campus,” according to Tingling. Beedie’s Career Management Centre is very active with mentoring programs, company visits and support pertaining to job applications and interview practice.
If this sounds like a lot of excitement and bustle, it is, in the best possible sense, and nothing is more rewarding to Tingling than seeing students nervous, happy, apprehensive and excited all at the same time: “We don’t toss undergraduates into the deep end of the pool, but at the same time they know going in that this isn’t a spectator sport. That alone is bracing.
“Everything we do is geared towards helping young talent to help themselves—and what we’re doing works.”