There was one question I had trouble answering in the months before my internship. It seemed to come up again and again; first in the interview process, then again in my initial meeting with my mentor: “What do you want to get out of this internship?”
It’s a simple enough question, but I had trouble articulating what I was after.
I was obviously there to gain experience. I wanted to see how things were actually done – often in contrast to the theory – and learn how to do them. But beyond that, I was stuck. Did I eventually want to be an Executive Assistant or a Policy Analyst? Was I interested in communications or planning? I didn’t even realize what options existed, let alone enough to make any choices. I was in the Rumsfeld-esque territory of “unknown unknowns”.
Now that I’m three months into my internship with the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport, I realize not knowing didn’t really matter.
If you are driven and know exactly where you want to work, the internship program can help you get there. But if you don’t, the internship program will help you figure that out. So far, I have had an opportunity to work in a variety of areas. I have worked with communications, writing speeches and member statements for MLAs. I’ve written briefing notes and ministerial correspondences for the Culture Planning and Development branch. I’ve seen a bill finalized and read in the house for the first time and I have drafted the regulations needed to support it. I attend Minister’s briefings and senior management meetings. On a given day, I might take minutes at a Deputy Minister’s committee in the morning and attend stakeholder consultations in the afternoon. I have been indiscriminate in taking advantage of these learning opportunities.
If the internship is a restaurant, I’m eating off the tasting menu.
I have been given an amazing opportunity to try out quite a few different career paths. The internship has helped me to have a better sense of what I’m interested in and what I’m good at. Before I started here, I didn’t think I would enjoy working with regulations. By the time I am done, though, I will have taken two different sets through the legislative process and now I know that that is something I enjoy.
Maybe you’re almost finished grad school and you’re still wondering what career path will be right for your particular skills. Maybe you’re even unsure what options are available to you. Don’t let that keep you from this program. These are actually some of the best reasons to apply.
Ben Orr is a JSGS student from the University of Regina campus, and an Executive Intern at the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport.