“Securing” an internship
Writing this post I am in the fifth month of my internship with Ecotrust Canada. Ecotrust is a federal charity that self-identifies as an ENGO and an enterprising nonprofit, working towards a conservation economy for BC. The objective of this posting is to explain, based on my personal experience, the importance of using your network to secure an internship. As some of you may have heard, it is not about finding “a” job (internship) but rather “the” job. I believe I’ve succeeded in achieving the latter of the two.
Coming into Vancouver from Athens one thing I didn’t take into consideration was population. Having in mind populated cities of North America and, let’s be honest, my reference point of Hollywood films, I thought Vancouver would be much larger. I simply didn’t check in advance to discover that Vancouver and the Lower Mainland has a population of just over two million people! Coming from Athens, with a population in excess of five million, I can only say that Vancouver seemed very small and slow paced.
Networking is always an important aspect of community building, but within a business community centered around only two million people, it becomes crucial. I have, since arriving, made a serious effort to attend events, tweet, connect through LinkedIn and slowly but steadily build both my presence and my network here.
Simply… do it!
During the first couple of weeks of the MBA, I was elected as Co-President of SFU Net Impact Beedie Chapter, a student run chapter with its own mandate: “Our mission as emerging business leaders is to make a positive environmental, social and economic impact in the Vancouver community by advocating responsible and sustainable business practices.” In recognition of my commitment I was given a complimentary seat at a table sponsored by SFU at the 5th Annual Spring Gala and Young Agents Awards. At the event I had the pleasure to meet Brenda Kuecks, President of Ecotrust Canada when both of us arrived early and had casual time to time to talk and learn about each other’s background.
After keeping track of this relationship and calling to ask Brenda to be one of our speakers for the 20/30 Speaker Series hosted by Net Impact, I asked for an information interview. I was honored to have such an insightful meeting (jargon term: info interview), learning not only about Ecotrust Canada and its work but also much about the non – profit sector more generally. Being a student can open a lot of “doors”. Used strategically, these doors can lead you to people willing to provide good guidance.
Be knowledgeable of your environment
During the conversation, I introduced a funding opportunity that exists for students-researchers in Canadian Universities through the Mitacs organization, and specifically the Mitacs Accelerate Project that sponsors research based internships. It is an important funding opportunity that may help some of you garner financial support to put your experience and knowledge to the test in the workforce.
Long story short
It worked! Since October of 2011 I have been a member of Ecotrust Canada working as a Project Analyst in Economic Development. The project is titled “Business planning for social enterprises” and it has been a great experience. Not only am I getting to put into practice what I have learned during the MBA program, but at the same time I am receiving great guidance and insights to further improve my work.
- Connect: Be careful and be sure to personalize everything (especially LinkedIn invitations)
- Be sure to utilize your title: Being a graduate student opens a lot of doors
- Build your online presence and network
Also build your offline presence and network (sometimes it will bring you into a different set of
I am grateful and would like to thank Brenda Kuecks, President of Ecotrust Canada for offering me this opportunity, Oba Harding, Director of Business Development, Mitacs for providing his valuable help in securing a smooth and successful application, Jeremy Stone, Economic Development Project Manager of Ecotrust Canada for his close guidance and resourceful feedback on my work and of course all the staff at the organization that welcomed me at their “home”.
I would also like to mention the faculty, staff and fellow MBA candidates for their support and active presence during this important step of my life. They have all enriched my experience and have been really valuable to me in many different ways.
About George Chatzivasileiou
George is an MBA Candidate working at the nonprofit organization Ecotrust Canada as an Economic Development Project Analyst. This is an intern position co-sponsored by Mitacs Accelerate Program and of course Ecotrust Canada. George holds a BS in Shipping, Trade and Transport. He enjoys learning, thus you are most likely to see him at events with topics about economy, sustainability, social entrepreneurship and of course shipping. He is also blogging at g-controversial.blogspot.com.