Celebrating National Work Integrated Learning (WIL) month
By: Krista Henry (she/her)
“There are a variety of different internal initiatives and programs that allow our students to develop and learn from each other and from their teams”, says Daniel Leone (he/him), Questrade Financial Group’s (QFG) early careers talent acquisition lead.
Online financial service Questrade, has been a supporter of co-operative and experiential learning since 2008. They have hired University of Waterloo co-op students as UX writers, junior data scientists, information security analysts and more. Daniel gives insights into what makes their co-op program special.
How does hiring University of Waterloo co-op students help with your recruitment and talent strategy?
Hiring interns allows us to provide students with real-world experience while developing future grads whom we can hire
full time knowing they’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
We know that students are learning about cutting-edge technologies, strategies and techniques in their field while
We work hard to provide them with empowering
learning opportunities so that they can bring their perspective
and new ideas to our organization.
How do you ensure a successful co-op work term for your organization and the co-op student?
From an intern's first day until their last, we ensure they have the support to make a difference through:
The buddy program:
We pair each intern with a buddy to reach out to. Their buddy
will touch base with them, encourage development and maintain ongoing conversations about navigating through Questrade’s work environment.
Intern social events:
We make a conscious effort to have fun while working! Our workplace experience team, along with our campus recruitment program gives students opportunities to connect in a non-formal setting. This includes virtual (during COVID) lunches, social events and games. In-person events will take place once again when it is safe.
There is emphasis on challenging students to ensure that they are utilizing their technical capabilities and improving their skills. We are always looking for improvements and to hire in various departments across the company - including our largest department, technology. Every project not only teaches our interns real-world experience and skills, but it helps us grow as a company.
What are some of the biggest benefits of hiring co-op students?
Questrade has seen substantial benefits from our internship program and our efforts to build out our talent acquisition strategies. Not only do we invest in our products, but the greatest investment we can make is in one another. This is especially noticeable when it comes to our interns. A few of the key benefits are:
Finding future employees/close the skills gap:
Students get real-world experience and develop into future grads whom we can hire.
Enhancing our social media presence:
The next generation is not only tech savvy but also social media savvy. They are well informed about trends, events and like to share their own experiences on various platforms.
Reducing employee workload:
Offering existing employees an opportunity to offload some of the simpler and short-term tasks or projects provides a balance of workload amongst the teams. It gives interns an opportunity to work on projects or tasks to help develop their skills in the real world.
Fostering leadership skills in existing employees:
Allowing employees in non-leadership positions to supervise interns will pave the way for a development opportunity for those who have potential to move into a management position while giving our interns the support they need.
Getting it right the first time
Tian Deng (she/her), Financial Analysis and Risk Management student, started her co-op journey at Questrade. As a product analyst she was able to flex her mathematical skills to create new ideas. Here are her insights as a co-op student working at Questrade:
What was it that first attracted you to a co-op work term at this organization?
I was first attracted to work at Questrade for its rising popularity as a trading platform in the youth community. My interview process went smoothly, and HR was able to solve some technical problems through active coordination with me. Also, the culture at Questrade is inclusive, welcoming and diverse. With this shared value, I could see myself enjoying the workplace and doing well in the position.
What were some of the tasks or projects you worked on?
I worked as a product analyst in the investment product team, where I ideated, designed, and developed one investment product business case. I was able to present my project to different teams across all levels in the firm and get it approved by the management team.
What have you found to be most beneficial about participating in a WIL program?
Through co-op, I can apply my academic knowledge to real life practices and transfer my knowledge to practical skills. Also, I get exposed to the industry through meeting different people and get to know more about their experiences. I believe this helps me in making future career decision and building my own network.
This is the first of four features for WIL month, stay tuned for next week’s story!