A small New Brunswick business is using a new initiative to not only grow but to give two university students the on-the-job experience they need to kick start their career.
TimberTop Adventures, a treetop adventure park in Saint John, hired two students in January through Future Ready NB, an initiative that helps students and employers access experiential learning opportunities and funding to gain real-world experience and fill labour gaps.
“I was looking for an opportunity to have a co-op student join us this winter to help with the development of some of our marketing materials for TimberTop,” says David Alston, owner of TimberTop.
“When I reached out to the universities, this new initiative Future Ready was just becoming available and it was great in terms of being able to allow a small business like ours to afford to have someone come in and work with us as we build our operation.”
Depending on the needs of the employer and student, Future Ready NB will provide financial support, such as a wage subsidy, or cover transportation or equipment costs to increase students’ abilities to access opportunities. Through Future Ready NB, Alston was able to hire not one but two UNB Marketing and Business Administration students; Jenna Dobson and Madison Beairsto.
For Dobson, working at TimberTop has allowed her to apply all the skills she’s learned in the classroom.
“There were a lot of things that even up until the first and second week that I remembered learning about in school and that I just hadn’t had the chance to apply,” says Dobson. “I even emailed one of my professors I had last semester and gave him an update. I was so excited about how I get to use some of these skills I just learned about in school and I actually get to use them in real life.”
For Beairsto, the internship has allowed her to learn new skills, like copywriting.
“This has been my first experience with copywriting,” she says. “We’ve created all the writing for different pages on the website. We’ve created different coupons, several different brochure campaigns and helping host different events that will promote us in the future. It’s been very rewarding.”
What makes Future Ready NB different from other work initiatives is that it allows small businesses do the important work they need to do in order to grow, while at the same time giving business owners the time to mentor their students.
“Instead of spending my time doing, I’m spending my time coaching, mentoring and looking for ways to help them get opportunities to learn while at the same time accomplishing things,” says Alston. “Other work-related initiatives, yes, they are getting on-the-job experience, but it doesn’t come with the same kind of level of experiential learning built into the framework.”
At TimberTop, Alston says they want their staff to take ownership of their projects, using their unique skill sets, which made Future Ready NB the perfect initiave to use.
“Even with our students in the summertime, it’s really about [asking ourselves] how do we take the skill sets they come to the table with and their experience and their passion, and match that up with the things we need to accomplish in the business in terms of helping it grow?” he says.
“Using that same framework, Future Ready really fits well with that because it’s aligned very similarly that way. We want our business to expand. We want our business to grow this year. In order to do that, we needed to really spend more time investing in marketing-related activities and projects this year. In order for us to be ready for the summer, we needed to be able to do that during the winter time.”
Alston recommends Future Ready NB to any employer looking to take on bright students to tackle real business goals.
“If there are businesses out there [and] they’re not looking for someone just to bring in and give them a side project but actually get some work done, there are amazing quality students that have a lot of passion and a lot of drive to do some really great work,” he says.
“It’s really about investing the time to give them a chance to step up and provide that really valuable work you wouldn’t necessarily get done.”
For more information on Future Ready NB, go to FutureReadyNB.ca.
This story was sponsored by Future Ready NB.