WHAT Discover Year looks like
Five Phases of Growth
Job Search Work #1 Travel Work #2 Collaborative Project
August Sept - Jan February Mar - Jul First 2 weeks of August
At MentorU, we recognize that students have different expectations of what a normal workload looks like. Some may participate in competitive sports while others may be dedicated to playing a musical instrument or some other personal interest. There may also be students that are motivated to earn additional money throughout the year. The intention of this program is to remain flexible to the individual participant’s needs while creating a structured support system to expose them to a variety of experiences and to fuel their enthusiasm. Therefore, while we recommend roughly 30 hours of work per week, some students may need to work more and some less, depending on the jobs they obtain. Some participants may juggle two jobs at once, and some may choose to work a single part-time job. In this model, students are free to work as many hours as they wish during the work-term portions of the program. The one thing that is expected from all participants is attendance at our weekly team meetings, to be held on the same day each week during the work terms. This day will be determined in advance, and Discover Year staff will provide support in the communication of this requirement to potential employers.
Crucial skills development
Our Discover Year weekly team meetings are centred around the concept of the Harkness method, which is a discussion-based learning model that emphasizes open-mindedness and helps students develop their reasoning and discussion skills.
In order to maximize each student’s involvement and benefit from these discussions, group sizes will be limited to 10-12 participants. The three main components of the meetings are; workshops, career panels with our mentors and a collaborative project. The workshops are designed to improve participants’ skills in areas such as interpersonal and workplace communications, public speaking, conflict resolution, leadership, multimedia technology, healthy living and financial planning.
The mentor-centred career panels will introduce participants to a plethora of successful people from a wide range of industries, careers and backgrounds and will help shape their knowledge and understanding of the skills and aptitudes required, as well as the day-to-day realities in a variety of fields. This portion of the program is intended to pique their curiosity and allow them to start exploring potential interests for future careers and ambitions in a meaningful way.
Here is what a typical month's schedule of team meetings might look like:
The travel component of the program is intended to enlarge the participants’ world view and build their confidence while stepping outside of their comfort zone. Adaptability, problem solving and cultural awareness are considered crucial skills in today’s job market. Young adults who take the opportunity to travel consistently rave about their ample opportunities to improve these skills during these adventures. We do understand that independent travel can
be very intimidating for both young adults and their parents, and that resources and interests vary greatly among participants. That is why - similar to the work component - the travel portion of the Discover Year is very flexible. Whether the participant wants to travel to Montreal, Marseille or Manilla during their trip, our travel experts will provide guidance and helpful suggestions as participants prepare their journeys. Some may prefer to join a structured volunteer opportunity for their month-long travel experience, while some will choose to visit family overseas and others still will decide to explore unchartered territories on their own or with a companion. Whatever the format, there are many lessons to be learned in traveling to an unknown land.
At MentorU, we believe strongly that community service is most useful when the mission and job tasks are closely aligned with the individual’s interests and values. Anyone who has managed a team of volunteers will tell you that the most helpful volunteer is the one who has consciously chosen to be there out of interest in the project’s objective rather than simply a feeling of obligation to the community. With the collaborative project, we aim to create a spark for participants regarding a particular social issue – even if it is considered to be outside the traditional realm of charitable work. The goal is to initiate a project that speaks to their own values and enables them to create a meaningful stake in the project's mission. This will maximize their benefit to the project as well as enable them to expand their skills, knowledge and network in a valuable way. Discover Year staff will support the development of the project, but ultimately the decision of what issue to tackle, what impact they seek to make and the implementation of the project lies with the participants. Team members will be encouraged to research issues that interest them at the outset of the program, then pitch their vision for the project to the other members. A project will be selected by the group within the first 3 months and individual roles will be determined at that time. The months leading up to the delivery of the project will require a great deal of communication and teamwork amongst the group, leading to the implementation of the objective in August.
Self-reflection and individual coaching
With the multitude of education and career options available today, it is easy to understand how many students become overwhelmed in the post-secondary decision making process. There are close to 200 post-secondary institutions in Canada alone! Thanks to online marketing and well-developed recruitment strategies among these
schools, the abundance of admissions and program information can often lead to feelings of despair. Simultaneously, students are faced with perceived societal pressure urging them to pursue high-status or well-recognized fields and careers. This combination of information and perception often leads students to make arbitrary post-secondary decisions based on incomplete or irrelevant information. During their monthly individual meetings with Discover Year participants, our life-path coaches make use of their vast knowledge of the Canadian labour market and the post-secondary institution landscape to keep participants informed and to help them make good decisions based on their individual needs and goals. Through discussion of self-reflective exercises and readings, our coaches also draw on their experience in educational and career counselling to help students identify their intrinsic motivations and values, thus helping them ultimately pursue a fulfilling career and life in the long-run.