Lakeland College business students have a opportunity to work with businesses and gain experience through a new online platform.

Riipen is an online work-integrated learning platform that allows students to take part in project and get hands-on working with businesses across North America. Currently, business administration diploma students taking E-commerce courses can use Riipen to work with businesses in St. Albert and Oxnard, California.

School of Business chair Ben Acquaye says the project came from an eagerness to provide more online work opportunities for students.

“Employers want to know how you’ve used your time and being able to say I’ve collaborated with a couple of other people and delivered a real outcome for a real business is very valuable thing to have on your resume.”

Acquaye says the school will set out their expectations and what’s being covered in the curriculum and the businesses will then explain their needs which fit within those expectations. An example would be a current project with Renovate Organics, a bodyworks service, that needed help improving their online and social media presence.

Another example Acquaye mentions is a project around the creation and management of a website for a partnered business.

“We let the employers know that our students are happy to offer detailed evaluations of current websites from a customers point of view. These businesses would be able to make some recommended changes or would receive some information about what they were doing with the website and were working. Then finally, we let the businesses know that our students were able to make suggestions for a mobile marketing campaign and location based marketing ideas.”

At the end of the project, students will present their work to their instructor and a representative from the business. During this time, student can also pick up real world skills which will help them integrate faster into the work environment. Acquaye says those skills include complex problem solving, people management and creativity.

“There’s what you study in a classroom and there’s what a business wants. Quite often they are separate. You finish your studies and go into the real world and try and put it together. Right here right now, these students have to solve some complex problems and do it using critical thinking and be very creative. I’m pleased to see, by and large, that these students have risen up to the task and delivered.”

Acquaye expects the platform to grow in the coming years with more businesses signing up and aligning them with programs and classes offered to students at Lakeland College. Riipen is the largest online work-integrated learning marketplace in North America and has partnered with 15 other post-secondary institutions across the country.