Episode 3: Meet Along Eisenstein
An Interview with Alon Eisenstein
I met up with Alon Eisenstein, one of our newest ACE-WIL members, at his home in Kelowna, to learn more about his interest in Work-Integrated Learning (WIL). The following is an excerpt from our interview.
Me: Alon, let me start by welcoming you to ACE-WIL.
Alon: Thank you. I’m really excited to join ACE-WIL. I really look forward to meeting more of the members. If there’s one good thing that came out of the pandemic, is the fact that people are way more comfortable meeting and connecting virtually, so I hope I get to meet people from all across BC and Yukon.
Me: That’s so great to hear! Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself? What do you currently do, and how does that relate to WIL?
Alon: Well, I am an assistant professor of teaching at the School of Engineering, which is on the UBC Okanagan campus. My main focus is on technology entrepreneurship and professional development, so this is also my connection with Work-Integrated Learning pedagogy. I’m developing Entrepreneurial Work-Integrated Learning, or EWIL for short, for our engineering students at the school.
Me: That sounds interesting. Entrepreneurship and WIL, is this a new combo?
Alon: Well, to some extent, yes. Entrepreneurship itself is a relatively new thing in universities and colleges, more recent in Canada than in the US. And some institutions have been trying out Entrepreneurial-Co-op for some time now. But it’s been only a handful of years since broader entrepreneurial activities, such as courses, on-campus incubators, and other activities were seen as being opportunities in which WIL pedagogy is applied.
Me: And you’ve been involved in EWIL since you joined UBCO?
Alon: Actually, I started managing an EWIL program at the University of Toronto back in 2014 and was there until 2020. Then, just before the 2021 new year, I moved from Toronto to Kelowna, and joined the School of Engineering at UBCO, and I’m launching EWIL programs and courses at the School of Engineering.
Me: So, you’ve been in Kelowna for just over a year now. How are you liking the Okanagan so far?
Alon: Oh, the Okanagan is absolutely gorgeous. My family and I are nature lovers, and being so close to so many lakes, mountains, hiking trails, creeks and just the outdoors, was such a great experience for us as we moved from the highly dense urban Toronto.
Me: One final question before I let you go, where do you see WIL and EWIL go from here?
Alon: That’s such a good, and also tough question. We keep hearing more and more how much more WIL opportunities we need for our students, but also how much entrepreneurial thinking and mindset are needed. At the same time, resources are tight. So, I think EWIL has a lot of potential in supporting both the growth of WIL offerings in higher education, but also supporting our students in developing this mindset where opportunities and uncertainties are a good thing that they should pursue, not avoid.
Me: Well, thank you so much for your time, Alon. It has been a pleasure to get to know you more, and I know we shall meet again soon enough.
Alon: You are most welcome. I look forward to speaking with you again.
About the author/ interviewer: this interview (and its writeup) has been conducted by Alon Eisenstein himself, basically thinking aloud in his head. All effort was made to capture his thoughts accurately.