After over a decade of successfully implementing international youth internships with the UN, and now nationally with media-based organizations through the Multimedia &Multiculturalism initiative, UNA-Canada has seen the proven value of internships for both the intern and hosting organization.
A carefully managed internship, particularly in today’s fragile hiring climate—and especially in the media, is often the best way a qualified graduate can segue from academia to employment. “I got my start as an intern…” is the common reflection expressed by media practitioners when they agree to partner with M&M to take in an intern. Employers recognize the tangible value of a UNA-Canada M&M intern: both , hard work and fresh skills, but the doorway M&M interns provide into new communities – the hallmark of the M&M initiative. In turn, the interns benefit through gaining hands-on practical experience and a real, professional network and friendships to enhance their resume and employability.
The M&M internship programme was modeled after UNA-Canada’s prestigious and proven international programme: the United Nations Professional Placement Programme. Providing a skills development; pre-entry training and support we have results and an understanding of a programme where there is a real return on investment. UNA-Canada’s disciplined internship creates terms of reference that all parties formally agree to ahead of deployment. UNA-Canada continues offering support after the internships are over by providing regular job search resources and reference letters upon request.
This year M&M was very fortunate to partner with Shaw Media. Shaw agreed to host an intern at Global News in each of M&M’s eight participating regions. We are also delighted to have a new placement at Entertainment Tonight Canada in Toronto. The Global News approach to intern hosting shares M&M’s leadership on engagement with local community. It is no surprise Global recognized how partnering with the M&M internship programme would provide a direct link to harnessing the energy and talent of the skilled M&M interns from underrepresented groups Global is looking to bring into the fold. National Director, Ron Waksman, highlighted the importance of a newsroom’s ability to visually and audibly reflect the community it serves, but also that diversity exists within the higher level decision making and policy positions. He offered some important motivation when he spoke to our newly deploying interns: exceptional interns usually get hired.
M&M is also proud to be partnering again this year with Vancouver’s Schema Magazine, self-described as “Cultural Navigators” and a reflection of pop-culture and identity for interculturally-minded young Canadians. M&M is partnering once again with Metro News Ottawa, with Metro Calgary coming on board this year. In Halifax, M&M is partnered with newly established New Roots Radio, a community radio station committed to creating healthy diversity by talking about Canadian’s differences, candidly, passionately and even humorously. Additional funding from the Government of Alberta Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund has enabled M&M to expand into Edmonton and fill more placements in the region. It was encouraging to discover that more media hosts than we had qualified candidates showcasing to the resounding interest of the programme mandate in the Edmonton media community! In Edmonton we are pleased to have interns currently hosted at CJSR, OMNI & CityTV, World FM, Shaw TV and with the award winning Dreamspeakers, a widely recognized First Nations Film Festival.
In preparation for their internships which began in June, the interns were brought to Ottawa for a two-day briefing. In addition to workshops that examined aspects of media production and multiculturalism, the interns also fostered an important national network with each other that will serve their future career growth and development. Already this year’s group has established a Facebook forum where they continue to post their published works and collaborate to share resources and ideas. The briefing also provided an opportune time to reflect on the inaugural group of M&M interns: their successes and challenges. Ann Ariyadassa, 2011 M&M intern, came to this year’s briefing to share her experience and lessons learned. She provided valuable insight into how to maximize the placement and stay on course to gainful employment. Ann is now the Community Outreach & Media Coordinator for an MPP in her community.
Stay tuned for the next M&M newsletter, which will showcase a feature on the 2011 interns, “A Year Later, Where are They Now”, as well as feedback from the intern experiences of 2012. In the meantime, please follow the blog at mmunac.org to learn about the incredible accomplishments, stories, and media pieces that are currently being produced by Canada’s next generation of journalists and media professionals.