RBC Future Launch is growing work-integrated learning at Lakehead University

Photo of Hilary MacDougall

Hilary Macdougall is a Lakehead Commerce student who participated in the RBC Work-Integrated
Learning Program through a placement in human resources at St. Joseph's Care Group.

September 25, 2019 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

RBC Foundation has pledged $500,000 over five years in support of the RBC Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Program at Lakehead University. 

This generous grant from RBC Future Launch will allow Lakehead to grow the two-year RBC Work-Integrated Learning Program pilot project launched at the university in 2017.

Originally open to 20 students annually, the RBC WIL program offers opportunities for experiential learning in order for students to gain the skills necessary to successfully transition to a career. Over the next five years, Lakehead will expand the core program delivered in the pilot to 60 students annually who participate in a part-time work placement, workshop series, and mentorship and networking activities over a six-month period.

“This increased opportunity to gain experience, develop skills, and build networks is critical to the success of students after graduation,” said Hilary Macdougall, a fourth-year student in the Honours Bachelor of Commerce program.

Last year, Macdougall participated in the RBC Work-Integrated Learning Program and did a placement in human resources at St. Joseph’s Care Group.  

“Having participated in the RBC Work Integrated learning program, I know I am able to launch into the future with confidence. On behalf of all of the students participating in the RBC WIL Program, I would like to thank RBC and RBC Future Launch as well as the Faculty of Business Administration for implementing and facilitating this opportunity,” she added.

Dr. David Richards, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, said the RBC Work-Integrated Learning Program, as part of RBC Future Launch, allows Lakehead to provide mentorship and experiential learning opportunities to students.

“This additional funding will allow us to reach an increased number of Lakehead University students to promote employability and job-readiness for our graduates, and for that we are truly grateful,” Dr. Richards said.

Dr. Moira McPherson, Lakehead’s President and Vice-Chancellor, said the university is grateful for the vision and support provided by RBC.

“Today's announcement and the RBC Future Launch initiative demonstrates RBC’s commitment to helping Canada’s young people prepare for their future careers. We are very honoured to continue our partnership with RBC, which provides foundational skills, job experience and career networks that ensure our students’ success,” Dr. McPherson said.

“Whether starting fresh or retraining, it’s clear that the skills needed to excel in today’s workplace are changing,” said Annie Beauchemin, Regional Vice-President, RBC.

Photo of Annie Beauchemin

“That’s what RBC Future Launch is all about, and our partnership with Lakehead University is part of our commitment to enable Canadian youth to identify, articulate, build and develop their skills for the changing landscape of work,” she said.

With this new gift, Lakehead University will be able to provide a suite of work-integrated learning opportunities to all students in Business courses that build their workplace readiness starting in first year. 

This suite of programs and the core program will benefit up to 1,150 students across multiple disciplines over the next five years. This will include in-class experiential learning based on real-world cases, projects with partner organizations, increased mentorship opportunities, a Foundational Skills Co-Curricular Workshop Series, and customized models of work-site placements, ranging from week-long to full summer placements.

RBC has also provided a $20,000 grant from RBC Future Launch to allow Lakehead University to access Ten Thousand Coffees, a networking platform that connects current students with Lakehead University Alumni. This valuable resource will provide Lakehead students with mentorship in their fields of study, along with professional networks to support their successful transition into careers upon graduation.

RBC Future Launch is a 10-year, $500-million commitment to help young people gain access and opportunity to the skills, job experience, and career networks needed for the future world of work. This initiative is the result of two years of conversations with young Canadians from coast to coast. RBC identified three critical gaps to help prepare young people for successful futures: experience, skills, and networks.

Lakehead Thunder Bay and Lakehead Orillia will both deliver the RBC Work-Integrated Learning program. Business and non-business students enrolled in Lakehead’s Entrepreneur Certificate program are eligible to apply.  

If you are interested in becoming a mentor by hosting an experiential learning placement student, please contact Maryann Kleynendorst, Experiential Learning Navigator, at (807) 346-7753 or mkleynen@lakeheadu.ca.

Dr. David Richards, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, said the RBC Work-Integrated Learning Program, as part of RBC Future Launch, allows Lakehead to provide mentorship and experiential learning opportunities to students.


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Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Communications and Marketing Associate, at (807) 343-8177 or mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.


Lakehead University has approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. In 2018, Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the fourth consecutive year. Maclean’s 2019 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities and found that students ranked Lakehead University as one of the top 10 universities in Canada and top three universities in Ontario that prepare them for employment. Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.