CEWIL Resource Hub: Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto

The first lecture in the "Exploring New Ventures" course is devoted to managing expectations, setting goals, work etiquette, and workplace environment content to prepare students for the work experience. Students meet every two weeks in class to discuss topics relating to entrepreneurship and to report back on their work experience.

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Key success factors

  • This course is a great opportunity for students to gain work experience without jeopardizing the work-school balance, and allows students who may not be able to secure competitive, disciplinary-specific internships to still have the opportunity to graduate with valuable work experience.  

Unique characteristics

  • The program uses the start-up environment as a "living case study" where students critically examine concepts relating to entrepreneurship that are learnt in class as they're simultaneously manifested in their placement company.
  • The course is entrepreneurial in focus and not limited to any one discipline or program. The course has been positioned to make it inviting and valuable to all students. As a result, students from many different programs enroll in the course, and there is no gender bias in those who take the course.  


  • Scrutiny surrounding the quality control around the experience is challenging. Because start-ups often prioritize their product or service at the expense of investing in the administrative structure of the company, there often isn't an HR structure or protocols for managing, hiring, and dealing with people. The student experience then falls on the supervisor and their personality, willingness to learn, accommodate, and cooperate with the student and course provider. Finding the right companies, onboarding them, and setting their expectation of the program is crucial for success. 
  • Staffing for the course is a challenge, because you can't offer a quality program without the right people and enough people.  


Key characteristics

  • Type: Entrepreneurship
  • Year program was established: 2013
  • Number of students per year: 100
  • Number of employers/partners per year: 20-25
  • Programs/academic disciplines participating: Math and Physical Science, Commerce, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities,
    Computer Science
  • Duration of experience: Half credit (one term): 100 hours in the workplace & 12 hours of class time or Full credit (two terms): 200 hours in the workplace & 20 hours of class time 
  • Submitted by: Alon Eisenstein