April 25, 2024

Experience Catalogue helps students ‘figure out what their next step might be’

Director Shawna Bava shares why experience matters as students experiment with career and life paths
Three students discussing while reading a laptop
Riley JB

The road of life is joyful, exciting … and also often very confusing. When you’re a student just beginning in your career (or actually not even sure what a career looks like for you) there are many decisions to build the foundations for your future.

The Centre for Career and Personal Development (CCPD) guides students through this uncertainty through a process of exploration, self-reflection and skill development. Shawna Bava is the director and has experienced first-hand the sometimes-overwhelming experience of university life. 

“University is about more than just what you learn in the classroom,” she says, “It’s also an opportunity to develop your own strengths and skills in meaningful ways. Sometimes it’s about better understanding yourself, your strengths and skills, and we can help with that.”

One of the ways that students can experiment with what they might want to do in their life is through participation in different activities, both inside and outside the classroom.

Experiential learning is an opportunity for students to experience hands-on, real-world scenarios such as volunteering, participating in a hackathon or competition, studying abroad or completing a co-op, practicum or internship — all experiences that can help provide career clarity.

Sometimes, knowing how to find these opportunities is the biggest challenge. Enter, the Experience Catalogue. 

The catalogue is a publicly available, web-based tool where students can search for opportunities to get involved, find experiences and explore areas of interest. Searches can be narrowed by options such as showing only low-cost activities or activities that don’t require an application and more.

Experiential learning is an opportunity to try different activities that help shape what our next steps might be,” says Bava. “When I was a student, I had formal opportunities to do practicum placements and that was a chance to go into different settings to see if I liked it, liked the tasks, and whether those settings and tasks aligned well with my strengths.”

The Experience Catalogue is open to any faculty or staff to promote experiential learning and other activities using single sign-on.

Whether the posting is part of a degree program or non-credit, a short or long-term commitment, or occurring locally, nationally or internationally, they can all be added to the catalogue for students to discover.

“Experiential learning can provide ways for students to check out if something might be work they truly do enjoy and want to do more of, or they might get information that suggests it isn’t right or what they want to do,” says Bava. 

“It also gives them the opportunity to grow their network, add meaningful work experience to their CV, or find key contacts to act as references. Getting that first job, in the field of their choice, is hard, and these opportunities can be stepping stones along the way.”

Bava also shares that while experiential learning can seem difficult to get started, there are opportunities of all kinds listed in the catalog so students can look and see what's right for them. 

And when in doubt? 

“The Centre for Career and Personal Development can meet and talk with them to help figure out what their next step might be.”

The Experience Catalogue is UCalgary’s virtual hub where students can explore ways to get involved and get experience.  Any staff at the university can add volunteer positions, undergraduate research opportunities or awards, competitions, conferences, work-integrated learning programs and more with a few quick steps. Searchable from any phone, tablet or computer, the Experience Catalogue makes it easier for students to see all the ways they can enhance their UCalgary experience.  

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.