Creative work comes in many different shapes, which is why OCAD U’s Experiential Learning Program is not one-size-fits all. Instead of traditional co-ops and internships, Experiential Learning Placements emphasize self-reflection, mentorship, and experimentation.
Through Placement Courses, upper year undergraduate students can ‘test-drive’ a creative field, and earn academic credit by learning through working in the field. Students reflect and share individual experiences as a class through group discussion, and complete course work based on critical self-reflection and professional development.
Students enrolled in Placement Courses are supported by the Experiential Learning Program team with their professional development and are expected to initiate their own research to find a Placement Employer.
Students enroll in Experiential Placement Courses just like any other course – please see the Course Catalogue for eligibility specific to your program (Major/Minor/Specialization).
Once enrolled, students are responsible for preparing their portfolio and résumé and creating a Talent Network profile. Students should contact the Placement Program Coordinator for advising on Placement Employer research and outreach. The Experiential Learning Program team maintains a network of Placement Partners and we provide support and resources to help students make professional connections.
To get the most out of an Experiential Learning Placement, students are encouraged to:
- Self-assess and reflect on creative skills and practice
- Set personal and professional goals
- Take initiative to explore your field and/or industry
- Connect with professional communities and develop personal networks
- Share personal experiences and resources with your peers
Details For Undergraduate Students
- Placement Courses run during Fall, Winter, or Summer Terms (12 – 24 weeks, depending on the course)
- 0.5 credit, un-paid
- 80 - 120 hours at the placement (with the exception for placements in ADEL: Community which are 35 – 40 hours)
- Semi-regular classes with group discussion and faculty instruction for academic evaluation
- Scheduling of placement hours is negotiated between Student and Placement Employer; placement hours should be completed in time for final course evaluations
Examples of Placement courses for Undergraduate students:
- Faculty of Art: Learning in the Field: CROS 3011, CROS 3012
- Faculty of Design: Design Internship: GDES 3104
- Digital Futures, Undergrad: Plugged-In: DIGF 2010
- Art & Design Education Lab: Art Gallery of Ontario: CROS 3008
- Art & Design Education Lab: Community: CROS 3017
Frequently Asked Questions
Preparing for a Placements Course
- Download and complete the Intro Questionnaire . Email the completed questionnaire to the Placement Program Coordinator. This questionnaire helps us understand your creative practice and professional goals, and allows us to offer you support.
- Prepare and share your résumé and portfolio - these should be up-to-date works-in-progress, to be further developed in the Placement Course.
- Make an appointment for advising with the Placement Program Coordinator to discuss your materials, your intro questionnaire, and next steps for industry/community research and outreach.
Depending on the course, you can expect to meet in class weekly for the first month, and then only periodically throughout the course. Most students divide their (approx.) 100 placement hours over 10 weeks as 1 full day or 2 half days per week.
You are responsible for managing your time both in class and at your placement. In-class activities may include:
- Professional development workshops
- Guest speakers
- Creating a Personal Learning Model/Environment
- Discussions to share and reflect upon your placement experiences with your peers
- Student-led skills-sharing and group workshops
- Presentations and pecha kuchas
Please review your placement course outline for specific information on these in-class dates and assignment deadlines.
In 2018, the CEAD initiated the Accessing Placements Fund for students who are enrolled in a for-credit placement (either through a Placement Course or as an independent Field Placement).
Finding a Placement Partner
Students are responsible for preparing professional materials (résumé and portfolio) in order to initiate contact with a Placement Employer. The Experiential Learning Program team supports students throughout the process of conducting research and contacting organizations. Students are encouraged to make an appointment for advising with the Placement Program Coordinator to discuss their professional materials and identify potential opportunities.
Using the Intro Questionnaire , reflect on your own skills, interests, and career goals, to engage with the industry and or community that fits you best. You are encouraged to reach out to your immediate network (faculty, peers, alumni, friends, professional contacts, etc), to search the Talent Network, and to schedule an appointment with the Placement Program Coordinator for advising.
If you have already confirmed a placement, the first step is to connect the Placement Program Coordinator with your Placement Employer via email or phone, so we can outline their responsibilities towards occupational safety and your well-being while working off-campus. You can start your placement hours once we have checked in with your Placement Employer.
Students cannot treat an existing job as a learning placement; your for-credit placement need to be supervised and evaluated by a Faculty Supervisor as well as Placement Employer from start to finish. Some exceptions for specific cases can be made — please direct your inquiries to the Placement Program Coordinator.
You will need to complete a Student Agreement which outlines the code of conduct, health and safety risk management, and intellectual property arrangements; this will need to be completed with your Placement Employer during your orientation (first week in your placement).
Some Placement Employers may require students to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Certain placements require a Vulnerability Sector Screening through the police services (if you’re working with children or the elderly), in which case, the Experiential Learning Program team can assist with the process.
The schedule is discussed and agreed upon between the Student and the Placement Employer. When establishing a schedule, you should consider part-time work, other courses, commute time, course work and projects.
You are responsible for maintaining contact with the Faculty Supervisor (course instructor) and Placement Program Coordinator; submitting assignments and other documents for academic evaluation.
According to OCAD U’s Experiential Learning Program Policy , for-credit placements should be non-paid service-learning opportunities. Placement Employers can offer an honorarium or reimburse the cost of travel, meals, material/supplies/equipment or other agreed upon expenses.
After the placement hours required for credit are completed, you can negotiate continuing in a paid role with your Placement Employer. Contact the Placement Program Coordinator should you have further questions.
The non-paid for-credit Experiential Learning policy prioritizes learning and mentorship through a well-rounded experience focusing on students’ learning objectives.
Students complete a maximum of 120 hours in their placement for 0.5 credit - this time is equivalent to the hours spent in completing a 0.5 credit course.
About Experiential Learning Placements
Experiential Learning Placements prioritize personal and professional growth through mentorship. They are opportunities through which students can ‘test drive’ a specific professional context and are supported and evaluated by OCAD U faculty for credit, whereas co-op and internship are work-oriented paid positions, with minimal academic support.
OCAD U does not have a co-op program; students seeking paid internships (not for-credit) should get in touch with the CEAD's Career Development office.
Almost! By participating in the Placement Course, students gain insights more broadly by sharing placement experiences and reflecting as a group with an assigned faculty course instructor, whereas Field Placements are undertaken independently. Students interested in doing a Field Placement are expected to self-initiate their own placement.
All OCAD U students and alumni can contact a member of the CEAD for advising — we can discuss a range of topics such as your job search, preparing applications, portfolio and résumé review, graduate studies, and interviews. Please get in touch to make an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weekly professional development advising sessions are offered via appointment or drop-in hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 2:30pm and 4:30pm, at the Centre for Experiential Learning at 115 McCaul, 3rd floor. Appointments can be booked through the Talent Network.
Placement Program Coordinator
P: 416 977 6000 ext. 2855