Student Story: Tatjana Steck + Barklets

Hubbub #1 / December 2019. Photo by Rob Newell.

As someone who already studied in several countries, I can say that CityStudio North Vancouver creates a very unique experience for students by bringing together theoretical and practical aspects of learning.

My first touchpoint with CityStudio was in the Fall semester 2019 during my Master’s Degree and Graduate Diploma in North American & International Management. One of the courses I attended was Managing Change with Laurie Prange, who introduced us to the project. My excitement increased when we were presented the idea of having a real client, the City of North Vancouver, CityStudio as a connector between the students and the client, and a real-world problem. “How can the City manage business buy-in to support the North Vancouver Parklet Program?” was the topic our team had to solve. In addition to the client’s demands, we had to think outside the box and “change the project” as part of our course work. Our innovative group came up with the “Barklet” idea: Establishing free spaces for dogs, dog owners and other community members to create social capital in the neighborhoods by bringing animals and people together.

There were quite a few aspects which made this university assignment so special; solving a real-life issue as well as the meetings with the client and Adele from CityStudio. The latter was crucial for understanding the overall scope and requirements of the project . It was very unique for me to have regular check-ins and it definitely helped us to finish our report and presentation with ease prior to the deadline – unlike other university projects which are usually completed last minute. Nevertheless, one challenge was to incorporate both, the requirements of the City of North Vancouver and of our course outline. We had to make sure to include business engagement while thinking of ways to manage change in the assignment.

In the end, our “Barklet” project was a success and was selected for the presentations at HUBBUB. This event was an experience completely different from past university presentations because we could meet with employees of the City and community, and deliver an elevator pitch about our project in the City Hall of North Vancouver. Personally, I enjoyed going out of my comfort zone during the one minute pitch in front of the client – you could say that CityStudio really made me overcome my fear!

All in all, this course work enriched my learning experience at Capilano University significantly. It is not only a great way to develop a better understanding of real-world projects, it also benefits my resume as it’s a great experience worth show-casing. Therefore, I believe every Capilano student should have the chance to participate in at least one “hands-on” assignment with CityStudio – it will definitely help them in their future.

Written by Tatjana Steck.

Tatjana’s CityStudio experience was the result of a collaboration between Leah Herman, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Vancouver, and Laurie Prange Martin, instructor in the School of Business at Capilano University, with support from Alexander Hayne and Annette Kim, owners of the Bean Around the World on 5th and Chesterfield in North Vancouver. Learn more about the other group projects here.