Staying on the frontline of training with students

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Celebrating National Work Integrated Learning month #inspiredWIL

Celebrating National Work Integrated Learning (WIL) month

By: Krista Henry (she/her)

Axonify, a leader in training and communication solutions, helps frontline employees globally through its online learning management system.

They have hired University of Waterloo co-op students since 2016 in roles such as Javascript developers, quality assurance analysts and product management support specialists. Andrea Vrbanac (she/her), vice president of people & culture at Axonify, gives us her insights on how the company attracts and retains early student talent:

How does hiring University of Waterloo co-op students help with your recruitment and talent strategy?

Many co-op students return upon graduation as full-time employees which enables us to streamline our recruitment of new graduate positions. Additionally, co-op students become Axonify brand ambassadors— sharing their positive experiences with others—which effectively builds awareness within the student community (and beyond) of Axonify and the opportunities we have available.

How do you ensure a successful co-op work term for your organization and the co-op student?

We are committed to helping our co-op students make a meaningful impact on the business while we support their growth and development. A key part of delivering against that mission is ensuring students form a network amongst themselves to share their knowledge and leverage one another’s ideas.

Andrea Vrbanac, Axonify
Andrea Vrbanac (she/her)
Vice president of people & culture at Axonify

As well, this provides a platform to ensure they are comfortable asking questions and getting to know all their fellow Axonifiers.
This network of peers empowers them to be more confident to make the most out of their term, whether that be by completing a stretch project, meeting for coffee with senior executives, or working on soft skills. We know that forming connections while remote can be intimidating, and the sessions outlined below help students to practice building relationships virtually and to form a peer network:

Virtual networking

1. Co-op connect:

A virtual meeting for current co-op students, incoming co-op students, and the students of the previous two terms. This meeting helps break the ice, as well as introduce the incoming co-op students to ‘Life at Axonify’. Current and past co-ops who join share their experiences and answer questions. Many have commented that this social helps to make them feel more comfortable during the early days with Axonify.


Team building

 2. Co-op icebreaker:

New co-op students complete a team-building activity during their first week at Axonify. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve transitioned this to a virtual experience (example: virtual escape room). We find that this helps the students get to know one another so that they have a tight-knit community within the Axonifam.


What are some of the biggest benefits of hiring co-op students?

Co-op students bring creative energy and new perspectives to our team. Their impact and eagerness to contribute in a meaningful way is celebrated across the business, with accomplishments being recognized through our ‘Values in Action’ Slack channel during regular company update meetings. Employment of
co-op students also gives our employees the opportunity to mentor bright and enthusiastic students, further enriching the experience of students and full-time Axonifiers alike.

Double love for Axonify

David Klomfass, Axonify co-op student from the University of Waterloo
David Klomfass (he/him)
Political science student

David Klomfass (he/him), Political Science student recently completed two work terms with Axonify as a product management support specialist. Klomfass shares his highlights about Axonify and the benefits of WIL:

What was it that first attracted you to a co-op term at this organization?

My first co-op term (Winter 2019) was at Axonify, working on the business development team. I had an incredible experience and after working for two other organizations, I knew that I wanted to return to Axonify in a different capacity. This was coupled with an interest in product management (PM). The product management specialist role was a perfect fit.


What were some of the tasks or projects you worked on?

The product team at Axonify is positioned at the heart of the organization, interfacing with internal stakeholders like customer success, sales, marketing and development, as well as with external stakeholders including customers, prospects and partners. My responsibilities included conducting interviews with global enterprise customers to understand how they were utilizing the Axonify content marketplace, identify gaps in our current content offering, and to inform the development of future topics in the marketplace.

What have you found to be most beneficial about participating in a WIL program?

The study/work sequence of my WIL program has provided an opportunity to iterate every four months and a natural feedback cycle for my personal development. My capacity for managing competing priorities has expanded, as has my awareness of my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve made friendships and professional connections with incredible people across a wide variety of disciplines and career stages. I’ve also found co-op to give purpose to my academic terms and has given me a lens in which to view and assess the material I’m learning in the classroom.

Stay tuned for next week’s WIL month feature!