Youth Internship Program
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Success Stories - Mentors
Mentorship is simply part of working in the cultural sector, according to Marie-Dominique Bonmariage. However, she feels that this expectation can be difficult because many mentors don't have any specific training to be mentors. Nonetheless, she believes that it is important to pass along one's experience and knowledge to younger people.
Mrs. Bonmariage is very interested in the challenge of succession, especially in cultural management. She sees internship as one way to address this issue.
Part of the organisation's strategic plan was to bring in an intern to strengthen its research capacity, knowing that interns can make significant contributions to an organisation. Participating in CHRC's Youth Internship Program allows Arts Inter-Media Canada / Dance Collection Danse to train - and then find other funding to retain - interns who enjoy the work and fit well in the organisation.
For Amy Bowring, how well an intern fits into the workplace team is critical to the success of an internship. Very familiar with mentoring, she suggests that the mentor and intern can develop a great working relationship if the intern is receptive to the knowledge and skills-sharing efforts of the mentor.
Like many other cultural organisations, the Independent Media Arts Alliance includes internship as part of its overall planning. They too have found it somewhat challenging to devote enough time to training the intern.
The group recognizes that interns can address needs or fill gaps. Jennifer Dorner suggests looking at the organisation's needs or gaps, and matching them with a potential intern's interests. She also advises organisations to make sure that the intern fits the cultural sector, and that he or she is self-motivated.
As a younger mentor, Jennifer Dorner enjoys the collaborative nature of an internship. She encourages other mentors to have very open discussions with interns.
Like other cultural sector organisations, The Apathy is Boring Project includes internships in their strategic plan, in turn building human resources capacity within the organisation.
Ilona Dougherty finds that the cultural sector facilitates learning. She recommends that organisations avoid making an internship overwhelming for the intern. She also cautions that interns need guidance to navigate the fine line between taking ownership of assigned tasks and understanding the boundaries of their authority.
For Mrs. Dougherty, mentoring provides an opportunity to learn which of her skills are important and can be transmitted to an intern. An intern willing to try new tasks and learn new skills - "to step up to the plate" - helps her see her own challenges, both as a mentor and as a colleague.
FRACAS develops internships as a way to extend their staff capacity, allowing them to accomplish projects that could not otherwise be undertaken. Their recent intern made a great contribution to the organisation's visibility, and was directly responsible for an increase in membership.
Chantal Fortier recommends finding a hard working, open-minded and flexible intern who takes the job to heart. She cautions that it is important to explain a lot to an intern, even if they seem somewhat disinterested, because these communication efforts help make the internship a success.
Vickey Chainey Gagnon
When considering where to look for an internship, Vickey Chainey Gagnon recommends choosing small cultural organisations or businesses because they allow the interns to experience all aspects of working in the particular type of organisation and discipline.
For Mrs. Chainey Gagnon, mentoring allows her to feel that she has a role in young people's lives by supporting their learning process. It also helps her learn more about herself and her colleagues, and about her own management skills.
She suggests that mentors should take the internship seriously, and give the intern valuable experience. She advises mentors to get regular feedback and evaluations from an intern, as part of learning what an intern's expectations are and how to meet them. In addition, she recommends that mentors monitor interns closely to make sure they don't fall behind, allowing them to learn and grow as much as possible from the internship experience.
Like many other arts organisations, internships are built right into the Dancer Transition Resource Centre's overall strategy, rather than being event driven. In their small office, Amanda Hancox recognizes that everyone mentors informally, and acknowledges the need to focus on making time for an intern, ideally over a longer period of time.
The Dancer Transition Resource Centre exposes interns to a wide variety of experiences - from key organisational activities such as event development or database programming to management issues such as priority setting and mentoring itself. Amanda Hancox encourages organisations to identify and take advantage of the unexpected skills and abilities of interns.
Boulev'Art Inc. took on a mentor at a critical moment in the organisation's development. Because the organisation was in flux, the intern learned a lot about many areas of the business and developed a global view of the organisation, despite the fact that the intern was brought in specifically to develop national and international sales.
As a mentor, Marie-Catherine LaPointe finds that mentoring is a great experience when the intern makes an effort to gain experience. She very much appreciates being able to witness results of working with intern, and is impressed when younger people demonstrate initiative. For her, mentorship offers a personal challenge. It requires her to shift her focus from general management to a more personal type of management where information flows both ways.
The Nightingale Company finds it advantageous to train staff during an internship, and then have the opportunity to hire a trained and knowledgeable person after the internship is over. To organisations considering or undertaking internships, Debbie Nightingale advises that they check the intern's goals against the organisation's needs, and find ways to match them. She also encourages interns not to hesitate and ask for advice from their mentors.
Mrs. Nightingale finds that she always learns from interns. She notes that organisations benefit from the creativity, the intellectual curiosity and the new and different approaches of interns.
Art Starts Neighbourhood Cultural Centre recommends interns who are enthusiastic, committed to the arts, and interested in using the arts as a communciation development tool. During a recent internship, the organisation looked for an intern with freshly acquired knowledge in the area of communications, and intentionally drew on that new knowledge to develop an effective sponsorship marketing kit.
Tamara Steinberg loves being a mentor. Just as communication is important to the organisation as a whole, she stresses the importance of communication skills in working with interns.