Here at UNB, we strongly value experiential education. From Renaissance College’s internships to the Engineering and Science Co-op program, there are many opportunities to utilise our education in real life environments.
At first, these opportunities seem wonderful. A closer look, however, shows that some experiential learning placements have a dark underside. Helen Hywater and Joe King, two 2nd year computer science students, spoke out about their unusual experiences.
“Coming from a small town like Fredericton, and a university like UNB, you just never really expect to be caught up in the maritime mob,” explained King.
“It was shocking really, when we realized what we were doing,” said Hywater. “I figured it must have been a joke the other employees were playing on us.”
Hywater and King found themselves working for a local Fredericton mobster, after receiving an internship placement with Upton O Goode’s kayak rental through UNB’s co-op program. They were working on coding for a program to predict the outcome of sales based on weather patterns.
“Our coworkers always joked about working for the mob, or at least, we thought they were jokes,” explained King. “Turns out they were pretty serious.”
The students can’t say very much about what exactly the company was doing, and how they were connected to the mob, as a police investigation is ongoing.
“It wasn’t actually that bad of an experience,” said Hywater with a laugh. “We were still able to practice our learning, and we made some good friends.”
Some students are speaking out on social media, asking the school to be more careful in their co-op choosing.
“We really should be asking if the school has our best interests at heart,” one student wrote on facebook, while another took things in a different direction.
“Ha ha. I love it. Gain experience in the workplace and get those mafia connections while you’re at it,” a third year student posted.
Whatever the outcome of the internship, UNB students should use caution when entering new and unknown workplaces, and remember to research the company on their own.
When reached for a comment, UNB declined to say anything.