Workplace exposure has a way of bringing the learning experience full circle. On Friday, November 19th, the third-year BDC students took a trip to Hamilton’s largest coworking space, CoMotion on King. The fourth-year BDC students followed suit on Wednesday, November 23rd with a trip to JLABS @ Toronto, a coworking space targeted towards early-stage biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. For many students, this marked their first encounter with entrepreneurship – one of multiple career paths for BDC alumni.
Coworking spaces offer access to diverse working communities, in which various independent start-ups, freelancers, and small businesses share not only workspace but also ideas and expertise. In recent years, the coworking approach has seen a surge in popularity, suggesting that its emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration – a concept that underpins the BDC program – deserves recognition.
“I appreciate that the BDC staff organizes these opportunities for us,” said Young-Jin Cheon, a third-year BDC student. “These excursions give me the chance to learn things that aren’t taught in class, one of the main reasons I love our program.”
With the guidance of Larissa Drobot and Tammy Hwang, CoMotion’s respective Operations Manager and CEO, the third-year BDC students toured CoMotion’s suite of offices; this included one used by former developers of hitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot designed at McMaster. Hwang, who also had McMaster roots as a DeGroote Commerce alumnus, was more than delighted to engage in a rooftop discussion with BDC students at the end of the tour.
When asked how entrepreneurship might benefit BDC students in pursuit of other opportunities, Hwang said students could apply entrepreneurial values, such as innovation and open-mindedness, even within a corporate setting. She referred to these individuals as intrapreneurs. “Intrapreneurs are the leaders in the organization who look for ways to create value for both their customer and the business,” said Hwang.
While third-year BDC students received an inside look at the entrepreneurial industry in Hamilton, fourth-year BDC students gained insight on the industry in Toronto. At JLABS @ Toronto, a network of life science offices and lab spaces designed to host healthcare start-ups, students met and spoke in depth with many local entrepreneurs. The experience concluded with a guided tour of the facility’s cutting-edge lab space, complete with state-of-the-art equipment. BDC students were accompanied on both trips by Michelle Trottier, the program’s designated Career Development and Relationship Associate.
“We try our best to promote field trips and events, and are always looking for future opportunities for students to connect with industry,” said Trottier, when asked about the likelihood of future field trips for BDC students. She further spoke to their value in helping students develop a perspective on career paths and company culture. “The BDC Program office very much sees the value in incorporating field trips where possible.”