CEWIL Resource Hub: International Employer WIL at the University of Toronto Scarborough


IDS Coop Specialist

Key success factors

  • We intentionally support students through the experience with pre-departure training and awareness, 24/7 access to the safety abroad office, coaching for placement supervisors on how to support students in a new environment, and additional support from the IDS program office through check-ins. Students can confidently embark on this experience knowing the have access to these resources.
  • We develop relationships with partners so they create meaningful work opportunities, support student development, and return to the program annually.
  • Students complete significant reflection post-experience to integrate their learning on a professional and personal level.
  • The program includes content regarding the ethics of professionalism in international development work and cultural sensitivity, which is designed to help students recognize they are working in a new context with complex history.  

Unique characteristics

  • The length of the experience allows students fully immerse themselves in the culture and take on large, meaningful projects from start to finish.
  • There are academic requirements to help better prepare students for working internationally, such as taking a language course. The preparation course also integrates unique assignments to help students prepare for culture shock. For example, students might reflect on taking periods of time away from the internet and devices, as they may not be available in places where students are working.
  • While on the placement, students complete research used for their thesis or major research paper in the final year of study.
  • The experience is a co-op work placement, rather then a volunteer experience. Students are treated as professionals and apply knowledge from their program.
  • The placements are typically paid through a living allowance or stipend. Although the payment is not intended for students to make money, this makes the placement more accessible for students.


  • The key challenges of this program are related to the cross-cultural aspects, which adds a level of complexity to the process.
  • It can be difficult to develop clear, mutually beneficial partnerships with placement organizations. Phone and email are predominantly used because of the distance.
  • There's a geographical challenge associated with having students around the world. Although every effort is made to keep students safe, the risks are higher.


University of Toronto Scarborough

Key characteristics

  • Type: International employer WIL
  • Year program was established: 1984
  • Number of students per year: 20
  • Number of employers/partners per year: 20
  • Programs/academic disciplines participating: International Development Studies only, option for Bachelor of Arts (Social Science) or Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science)
  • Duration of experience: 8-12 months
  • Submitted by: Leah Polonenko