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Students Play Key Role in Supporting BC Businesses through COVID-19


BCBusiness BC Chamber of Commerce & ACE-WIL

Credit: Erica Apacible

Erica Apacible, communications student at SFU, supported Vancouver Coastal Health by facilitating the COVID-19 Virtual Medical Staff Forums as part of her work-integrated learning co-op role.  

In 2021, many businesses and non-profits continue to face the pressure to pivot and adapt to a rapidly changing landscape due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaving organizations looking for extra labour support, additional resources, and fresh ideas.

Facing these challenges, some organizations have opted to recruit students to their workplaces by using one of the many work-integrated learning (WIL) programs offered through British Columbia’s 25 post-secondary institutions.

 With more organizations exploring their options for working with students, the Talent Forward program was created, providing businesses with resources and support on how to use student talent in B.C.  Talent Forward is a partnership between the BC Chamber of Commerce and Association for Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning BC/Yukon (ACE-WIL).

 Since its conception in early 2021, the Talent Forward program has worked to inform businesses on how students can support organizations and contribute to their communities across the province. Businesses exploring the opportunity and value of bringing student talent onboard should take note.

 Developing Technology to Enhance Food Security within the Non-Profit Sector

 Shiven Khera, a management student from UBC-Okanagan, worked with Dr. Eric Li, associate professor in the Faculty of Management at UBC-Okanagan, to develop a new donation management system for the Central Okanagan Food Bank.

Central Okanagan Food Bank manages over $7 million worth of food annually and serves more than 1,500 families in the region. This system will help the food bank better predict the supply and demand of food, as well as better track the expiration of food to minimize food waste.

“Our system will digitize the food re-distribution and donation tracking system,” says Dr. Li. “In the next phase of the implementation, we will connect with local farmers to facilitate the surplus that the farms produce.”

When speaking to his experience working with a co-op student on this innovative project, Dr. Li says, “In the past years, I have had the chance to work with Shiven Khera through multiple projects and I am glad to see his growth and transformation. Shiven is very committed to this project as he really wants to see the success of the system.”

Supporting the Events Industry During a Pandemic  

Chloe Pasemko is a hospitality management student at Camosun College in Victoria. She completed a work term with The Good Party, a Victoria-based event planning company. Despite the slower covid-affected summer season, Pasemko worked on ten weddings. Although smaller, more spread out, and including intense cleaning protocols, she says the weddings were equally as amazing at their core, and the restricted season provided some important learning opportunities.

“If The Good Party had a normal wedding season, I would have never had the time to enhance my knowledge surrounding organizational tactics, social media management, blog production, or administrative tasks,” Pasemko says. “This is something I’m very grateful for as these tasks sparked a large amount of interest for me and I have since started managing multiple social media accounts. Throughout my work term, I learned how to be adaptable and confirmed my desire to have a career in the event industry.”

“We love working with students,” says Emma McCormick, owner and lead planner at The Good Party. “We find that students have so many amazing transferable skills they bring to the events industry and our company. They are used to being flexible, and in the events industry that is a huge asset!”

One day in hospitality might mean running an event for 16 hours, while the next could involve answering emails or building a new marketing strategy. The Good Party has a team-based approach, and McCormick notes that students are always willing to jump in and be team players.

“Students are used to being collaborative and creative, which is exactly what we look for in a team member,” says McCormick. “Students are always full of energy, ready with fresh ideas, and they bring a total willingness to learn. We feel so lucky that students would want to be a part of our team!”

Facilitating Communication Within the Healthcare Field

During her co-op at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), Erica Apacible, a communications student at SFU, was focused on facilitating the COVID-19 Virtual Medical Staff Forums (MSFs)—a series of monthly Zoom webinars featuring presentations from experts, briefings from leadership, and a live question period. The event’s goal was to spark two-way dialogue between medical staff and leaders to keep the community safe, informed, and engaged, and throughout the term, this project grew remarkably in size, popularity, and impact.

“Working side-by-side with my supervisor, we created avenues for medical staff to express their needs and interests so we could curate desirable content for the MSFs,” Apacible says. “Fuelled by these insights, we were also able to readjust and reinforce the COVID Communications and Medical Staff Engagement strategies.”

Laurie Kilburn, the program supervisor at VCH, says the benefits of working with student talent are the opportunities to expose students to experiences to prepare them for future career options. “Erica also brought a fresh perspective and ideas, which contributed to the engagement of medical staff and helped us to get a better idea of where to direct our efforts,” she says.

“Though my placement has come to a close, the work and its impact live on,” Apacible says.

Learn more about how you can hire a student by going to Talent Forward’s website at


BC Chamber of Commerce – Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter

ACE-WIL – LinkedIn


Simon Fraser University | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram

Camosun College | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter

University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus | FacebookInstagram | Twitter

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with BC Chamber of Commerce & ACE-WIL