Meet Danielle Fleck, the Senior Manager, Development Events at The Fraser Institute. In this quick Q&A, Danielle discusses the benefits of having an intern at the organization, the growth of the interns they hired and how the organization made the interns feel comfortable in their position.
We run an internship program, which offers students or recent graduates, the unique opportunity to learn first-hand what a think tank is all about and contribute to our work. Watching students learn and develop throughout their tenure with us is an incredible experience. Whether they are supporting our research, marketing or development teams, they are exposed to a variety of different projects and have the opportunity to interact with staff members, volunteers, donors and vendors. One of my favourite aspects is watching them form relationships with other interns and team members to collaborate on projects, form solutions to problems and learn from various differing perspectives within our team. It is also fascinating to watch them come into their own as I find they often join us being somewhat reserved and leave confident and prepared with new skills to bring into the workplace.
As part of our internship program, we have a number of interns that start their work terms at the same time. We schedule them simultaneously and have them seated together so that they can establish an initial sense of connection, and not feel as daunted entering the workforce. We establish a number of planned events such as welcome dinners, team lunches, attending our annual AGM, reading clubs to discuss foundational texts relevant to our industry as well as various social outings. We also offer them the opportunity to participate in our education program events such as our student leader’s colloquium where they can develop their public speaking and debate skills. With the help of their supervisors, they also develop work plans and have regular check-ins with them and their teams throughout their internships.
Not only do the co-op student interns learn from our organization, but we also experience an abundance of learnings and new ideas from them. They offer unique perspectives and insights on how our daily tasks, processes and producers can and should be improved. With freshly gained industry knowledge combined with eager attitudes, they are a source of creative ideas and innovative solutions that help us to remain current. Also after finishing their degrees, many of our Co-op students have returned to work with us on a more permanent basis
I would certainly encourage any organizations to open positions for co-op students whenever possible. It is an excellent opportunity for mentorship and collaboration that prepares students with the tangible skills needed to enter the workforce. I would recommend that employers use project management software to manage students work terms. We found this to be mutually beneficial in helping students to understand their priorities and help managers to create weekly to do lists, set deadlines, add notes, documents, and see how they are moving through the work assigned.