This year, Northern Policy Institute hired its first group of summer interns. These interns were all selected for their varying areas of expertise: policy research, operations management, communications, and public relations. Although these interns come from different educational backgrounds, they all have two things in common: their excellent work ethic, and their love of Northern Ontario.
Each intern has taken the time to reflect on their summer with Northern Policy Institute, and discuss what they’ve gained from this valuable internship experience.
Nick Parry, Operations Intern / Thunder Bay Office
My experience this summer at NPI was amazing. I learned something new every day and was a part of an organization that suited my interests. This internship allowed me to grow as an individual and I will always remember NPI as one of the first steps I’ve taken towards a career.
I’ve always been someone that pays close attention to the issues and challenges facing Northern Ontario, which is why I was so excited for the opportunity to work at NPI. This past June, I was graciously given the opportunity to attend the Northern Leaders Debate for the Ontario Provincial Election with my NPI colleagues. I also became more educated about the challenges First Nations face in remote reserves such as lack of proper education and food security issues.
I believe that NPI and other policy institutes can serve a great purpose for providing Northern Ontario communities, as well as all levels of government, solid public policy recommendations that can benefit Northern Ontario communities and its citizens.
As an aspiring HR professional, I believe my summer with NPI will help serve as a stepping stone towards landing a career in Human Resources or other areas of business. It was a great opportunity to be a part of a brand new organization and apply skills and knowledge I have learned throughout my studies.
Alex Berryman, Policy Intern / Sudbury Office
When first applying to NPI, I was unsure what to expect. My impression of internships hitherto had been largely informed by the unnerving experiences of my peers, the job descriptions of a few ostensibly soul-sucking positions, and “The Internship” with Vince Vaughn. Naturally I was hesitant, my mind filled with visions of being pinned under a three-foot stack of documents waiting to be collated, the over-stuffed filing cabinet looming over me like a tombstone, the distant echo of a jammed printer being pulverised by a disgruntled employee.
When arriving at work for my first day, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case. I knew immediately that there was an intriguing summer in store when I was presented with George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language as a writing primer, trying to ensure that I did not become the next “tired hack on the platform” of the policy world. Very quickly I was assimilated into a positive and encouraging work culture, and furnished with a comfortable level of research autonomy.
As I delved deeper into my work and began my tumble down the rabbit-hole of public policy research, I started to see why it was that NPI – conceptually, as well as practically – was so important. Northern Ontario faces challenges that distinguish it not only from Southern Ontario, but from anywhere else on earth. I progressively realized that being able to address these issues specifically and exclusively is paramount to ensuring Northern sustainability.
Throughout the summer, I have neither been menaced by piles of paperwork, nor relegated to the role of coffee-runner, for which I consider myself quite fortunate. On the contrary, I was given a place on the frontline of Northern Ontario policy analysis, armed with my trusty highlighter and a raised eyebrow. It was an experience that I would soon repeat.
Julien Bonin, Policy Intern / Sudbury Office
Going into my internship with the Northern Policy Institute, I did not really know what to expect. Looking back, it was an invaluable experience and I learned more than I ever anticipated. The Institute allowed me to study topics that I was interested in, use my skills and learn new ones. NPI is unique organization that it is dedicated to Northern Ontario and engaged to be an active member in the development of the region. The Institute works to increase the communication and partnership between the different actors such as government and industry agencies, as well as educate the public. NPI has a high standard and expects to produce results that matter for Northern Ontarians. I always knew that Northern Ontario was a special place with unique challenges and significant potential. At NPI, I got a holistic view of the region. The experience increased my knowledge of areas of the province that I was least familiar with as I learned about the challenges encountered by different communities.
NPI has also allowed me to work in an interactive environment with other researchers and analysts, in addition to learning about and meeting various industry and community leaders. I enjoyed listening and discussing the different perspectives and opinions on the challenges facing Northern Ontario. NPI not only encouraged me to voice my opinion on issues that were important to me, but I also learned about the issues that were important to my co-workers. In many cases, the most enjoyable part has been the response from the public.
My internship provided me with an opportunity to produce work that is relevant. However, the internship was more than just a “real world” work experience, it has also given me an understanding of the complexity and uniqueness of Northern Ontario and its people.
Amanda Hacio, Public Relations Intern / Thunder Bay Office
Nothing about my student life suggests that I would intern for a Northern Ontario think tank. Not only does my major not require any Canadian course components, I also go to university out of province. Besides the fact that I was born and raised in Thunder Bay, someone might question why I was a public relations intern with Northern Policy Institute.
That said, my internship with Northern Policy Institute connected me not only with my hometown of Thunder Bay, but Northern Ontario more broadly. I was able to gain insight into particular Northern issues first hand both at the Northern Leaders’ Debate in May and the Kenora Information Session in June. Road trip! I was also able to meet engaged stakeholders at our Thunder Bay Speaker’s Breakfast in July. From Kenora’s Huskie the Muskie to Sudbury’s Big Nickel, I’ve learned that each Northern Ontario community is unique, and together they make Northern Ontario an amazing place to live.
I come away from my internship with an understanding of policy, pertinent issues affecting the North, and the immense potential of Northern Ontario. The way I look at it, Northern Ontario is that person you meet during Frosh Week in your first year of university who doesn’t quite know what they want to do when they graduate, but every time you bump into them, they seem to have their life figured out a little bit more. You just know that one day everyone will recognize how great they are.
Sydney Gingras, Communications Intern / Thunder Bay Office
The men and women at Northern Policy Institute accomplish a great service by identifying and researching issues specific to Northern Ontario communities and providing solutions in the form of public policy suggestions. But these policy suggestions cannot be a catalyst for change in Northern Ontario unless they are seen.
Helping the work of Northern Policy Institute reach the public through my position as Communications Intern has been a source of fulfillment for me this summer. The knowledge that what I am promoting to the people of Northern Ontario are plans for positive change has given me the feeling that I can make a very real difference in my lifetime, in addition to opening my eyes to the harsh realities of many residents of the region that I call home.
Day-to-day life at the Northern Policy Institute office was different from all of my preconceived notions about office culture. It wasn’t repetitive and dull; it was fun, enriching, and at times a little crazy. No two days were alike, much like NPI’s staff: everyone has a different, but complementary, background. Personalities come together to create a positive work environment, and even promote strong friendships.
I have learned more this summer than I could ever have expected, and it was an absolute pleasure to do so alongside fellow Northern Policy Institute staff. Thank you to NPI for providing me this amazing opportunity!