Interns Inject a Fresh Perspective for Emergency Managers

Interns Inject a Fresh Perspective for Emergency Managers
As summer ends and the school year starts up again, thousands of students are once more in pursuit of knowledge that will hopefully lead them to a successful career. Among them are students enrolled in one of the post secondary emergency management programs available across Ontario. Many of these programs involve a work placement or work experience component. A work placement or internship can be an essential starting point in a career for students and new graduates.

The opportunity internships provide for students to gain practical experience and exposure to work culture, develop and refine skills and network with professionals is invaluable. Internships provide real benefits to employers too. They can boost an organization’s resources at a reasonable cost, provide valuable mentoring and leadership opportunities for employees and they bring new ideas and skill sets into an organization.

One of the major benefits for employers is access to additional resources and this can be done strategically. There are often projects that need more research and development, but it’s difficult to find focused time to work on them. Hiring an intern is an effective way to move these projects forward.

“An internship gave us access to more resources at a reasonable cost,” says Douglas Grant, who was a Director with Canada Life’s Business Continuity Management program. “We have standard pay rates for interns and they helped with some significant projects we were struggling with in terms of resources.”

Interns can also ease the burden of administrative tasks that take up a lot of a time such as the updating of documents. This can free up the time of senior staff to work on other initiatives.

In my own experience, interns provide a wonderful opportunity to build leadership capacity within our team. Often staff are looking to improve their supervisory or leadership skills, but there is not always the means to do so within the structure of the organization. Mentoring an intern through a short-term contract is an excellent opportunity for staff to develop these skills.

For Andrew Cooper, Emergency Manager with the Region of Peel, interns are a source for new ideas, diverse perspectives and specialized skill sets. “Having a different viewpoint to add to conversations is a huge benefit to our program and organization,” says Cooper. “Organizations can fall into defaulting to what worked well the last time. Having a fresh set of eyes and ideas has helped us on a number of occasions to adjust or expand our approach”.

Interns can also bring some unique skill sets that add value beyond the standard emergency management proficiencies such as additional experience in social media or technical applications.

For paid internships there are several provincial and federal funding opportunities to help offset the costs. The Student Work Placement program provides support to employers hiring post-secondary students.

Not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers and small businesses are eligible to apply for funding to support summer jobs for full-time students aged 15 to 30 years who are intending to return to their studies in the upcoming school year through the Canada Summer Jobs program.

A Cooperative Education tax credit is also available for businesses that hire students enrolled in a Co-op Education program at an Ontario University or College with a minimum employment period of 10 weeks and up to four months.

Internships are a great way to for an organization to enhance recruitment efforts, providing a cost-effective way to accomplish essential work and access new talent, skills and ideas. An intern may be just what your organization needs to accomplish its goals. If you are ready to hire an intern, submit your posting to the OAEM job board and share your opportunity with OAEM’s student community.
Written by: Alison Qua-Enoo