Give the next generation of entrepreneurial Albertans the inside track.

The VFC Externship helps leading startups enrich Alberta’s innovation ecosystem by exposing teams of interdisciplinary student volunteers from local colleges and universities to real-world business challenges.

Grow Alberta
Experience is hands down the best teacher. The students who get to learn by seeing and doing gain confidence, a track record, and a chance to plant roots in Alberta. Want to strengthen Alberta's core by investing in the next generation of workers? Start here.
Build your network
Your VFC Externs are members of a large, innovative, and perpetually expanding community of Canadian entrepreneurs, companies, and government agencies. Welcome to a family that never tires of talking innovation and doesn’t think it’s rude to discuss business at the table.
Energy boost
VFC candidates are vetted, committed, and trained. You may find participating in our four-week Externships an inexpensive way to meet your next bright star. The process improves your current resources too–the Externship Mentor Lead(s) benefit from experience managing a team of students.
120 hrs
20 hrs
4 weeks

Fast, flexible, impact.

A collaborative project framing process, VFC is there to support employers and students at every stage.

Eligibility & Application
A brief application will assess your eligibility.
Clarification & Commitment
Upon approval, we’ll invite you to an onboarding webinar to answer any questions, align expectations, and secure your commitment with a signed agreement.
Setting Project Parameters
You’ll complete our project proposal template, including the details of your proposed project, key dates, student learning objectives, and competencies students will develop. You select the number of spots available and how many team members should be working on a project. We review proposals regularly and will let you know whether your project has been approved or if we can provide feedback to evolve it.
Match with Students
Approved projects will be uploaded to the opportunities site and made visible to eligible students. Students review available opportunities and sign up.
Mentor & Career Coaching
You’ll choose a representative from your org to mentor the students during the 4-week project. The mentor will facilitate weekly check-ins with their student team. In the first meeting, you'll set expectations, a timeline, work plan and roles/responsibilities. Mentors will also help arrange career coaching opportunities (coffee break, anyone?) within the organization.
Setting Expectations of your Externs
Your Externs are equipped: VFC provides students with additional training to augment their professional skills, including time management goal setting and career coaching. You can expect them to seek our coaching and feedback.
Project Feedback & Review
You determine how the project is presented and who from your organization will participate in the review. VFC will provide the assessment rubric.
After a quick exit survey, we assess the learning outcomes, satisfaction, and benefits derived from the project. You'll be awarded a badge for your LinkedIn page and or website showcasing your commitment to mentorship and local talent development.
"SMEs have been impacted the most by the pandemic. This has also meant more barriers and fewer WIL opportunities for students; this innovative program by Venture for Canada, in partnership with BHER, will connect soon-to-be graduates with Alberta’s entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses to help them respond, recover, and grow."
Val Walker

Are a team of Externs right for you?

Eligible businesses must meet the following criteria:

Business must operate in AB

Starts up or SMEs with less than 500 employees

Your company or industry is exploring new ideas and is interested in new/student perspectives on some aspects of your work

Must commit to attending an onboarding webinar

Your company is entrepreneurial, or can offer an innovative or entrepreneurial exposure opportunity to students

Must select a mentor and company represented

Must be willing to provide opportunities for coffee chats with employees. Minimum of 1 one-on-one for each student

Complete student assessments (template provided) for each student following the final presentation and the VFC evaluation.

We receive applications on a rolling basis.
Once your project is approved, it will be posted on the project portal. We'll let you know once a group of students is engaged.
  1. Identify the project.
  2. Select the Externship mentor.
  3. Provide a career coaching opportunity for the group individually or as a team.
  4. Meet with the group once a week (this should be planned in the first meeting.)
Employers/students do not pay fees to participate in this program. We understand that the cost is in your staff hours and project commitment.
We suggest you bucket your challenge under one of these categories:  
  • Focus Group - An idea, product, or problem for students to solicit creative, fresh and innovative feedback. Suited for early year students.
  • Research - Students will research and present their findings to a question posed by employers. Suited for early or upper-year students.
  • Analysis/Solution - The action-based solutions to address a problem. Employers provide more background context so students have the relevant data and information to identify solutions. Suited for upper-year students. Other challenges may be suitable. Connect with our team about your idea.
We want to support students gain career clarity by taking on a real-world challenge a business is facing with a volunteer team of like-minded peers. They'll expand their networks, meet potential future employers (you!), and step up to the challenge to gain the right experience. Learn more about the student side of things here.