As part of the high school curriculum in British Columbia students must complete a minimum amount of work experience hours to help prepare them for the workplace and give them a start on building those all-important career networks. Over the past five years, the Vancouver Aquarium has helped over 1,000 students obtain this all-important piece of their education through our work experience, or WEX program, an intensive volunteering program for which participating students get school credit.
These WEX students volunteer all over the Aquarium, but mostly in public-facing roles including visitor experience, interpretive delivery, education, and camps. This summer, over 160 students took part in Wex program committing around 80 hours per placement.
Our WEX program has become so popular that many come back again—some for another placement, many to become part of our regular volunteer program. One of those students this year was Niamh McKinnon, who had Wex placements in both spring and summer, and hopes to return in fall for yet another placement.
Niamh loved working with the public and answering questions, and was particularly inspired by the curiosity of the children she worked with in AquaCamps. She says their questions made her want to learn more so that she could answer all their questions. She says her time in Wex has given her a serious biology education—which is great, because she’s considering going into science!
Developing people skills was most important to Anthony Pun, who wants to pursue a career in business. He said his time in Wex really strengthened his communication skills and taught him how to deal with difficulties in a work environment. Anthony is also hoping to complete another Wex placement in the future.
Here’s what other Wex students had to say about their experience:
“The biggest surprise from my AquaCamps placement has to be how much I bonded with my fellow Wexers. I never expected to meet such amazing individuals, let alone become so close with them! On the last day of our placement it felt like moving away from family, because that’s what we became – family.”—Brianna Bristow
“The Vancouver Aquarium work experience program is something I have always dreamed of being part of as a little kid. Every day is so inspirational and informative; it truly creates a unique experience and environment to spend my summer in. With no doubt in my mind, it was definitely time well spent.”—Valerie Ng
We are proud to be a part of helping so many bright young people contribute to the community and build their futures. Visit us online to learn more about our work experience program and volunteer opportunities at the Vancouver Aquarium.