Simon Fraser University


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Student Services

Chillin’ with WIL, the mascot and Facebook sensation, are (l to r) career services associate director Howie Outerbridge (foreground), WIL marketing and communications coordinator John Grant, university president Michael Stevenson and WIL director Muriel Klemetski.

2007 staff achievement awards: Student Services

May 15, 2008

Each year, SFU’s staff achievement awards highlight the exceptional personal and work-related accomplishments of staff members. In this issue, SFU News features the team award-winner Student Services’ work integrated learning unit.

In the fall of 2006, about 70 staff members in two separate operating units – co-operative education and career services – were given a daunting mission as part of a major restructuring of SFU Student Services.

The two groups were united to form the work integrated learning (WIL) unit within Student Services’ newly created Learning and Retention division and tasked with creating a one-stop shop for student career development and information services.

Successfully bringing together different corporate cultures can take years and with some organizations the process never gels completely. But within just one year, the new WIL team had realigned their independent services and re-developed their separate marketing and communication efforts into a cohesive and accomplished image, deftly employing the latest technologies and trends amongst their leading target demographic: students.

Overcoming initial barriers, they developed strategic goals, objectives and solutions to improve the overall student experience and keep their services student-centric, rather than determined by administrative protocol. The team even took on additional responsibilities, developing and incorporating volunteer services and service learning areas into WIL’s overall mandate.

The WIL unit celebrated their arrival to the SFU community in the fall of 2007, delivering the largest career fair in the university’s history to both students and alumni. The fair demonstrated and reinforced the relationship that exists between SFU and the employer community.

At the same time, they introduced the university to their unit’s official mascot, career guide WIL Fraser. The earnest little fellow has proven to be a brilliant marketing tool, drumming up incredible attention both among SFU students and staff and around the world via his online Facebook profile and campaign.

"He has more than 730 friends now on Facebook and he’s even had a few marriage proposals," chuckles WIL marketing and communications coordinator, John Grant. "We’ve actually been approached by the provincial government and universities across North America who want to do something similar."

Nancy Johnston, senior managing director, learning and retention, can’t say enough good things about her WIL unit. "I consider their achievements to be truly outstanding," she says, "demonstrating what co-operation and a positive outlook can bring to situations that call for significant operational and philosophical change."