A summer to remember: Looking back on my summer as a communications intern

Deep Cove, Nova Scotia (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Deep Cove, Nova Scotia (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

March 11, 2014 | by Colin Chisholm | 1 Comments

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) will always have a special place in my heart, especially after completing an editorial internship there during the summer of 2010.

I learned many important skills during my time there that I still use on a daily basis. But it also gave me a better understanding of this country’s fragile ecosystems, and what people can do to protect their homeland’s natural beauty.

In 2010, I was still working on my degree in journalism and international development studies at the University of King’s College. I wanted to get some in-field experience that would lend itself to both aspects of my degree.

That’s when I got an email from NCC saying they were looking for interns to help out in their communications department. Tasks would include working on their website and NCC`s national newsletter, The Ark.  It was also a paid internship, which is something of a rarity in this field.

I applied right away.

Working at NCC was the first experience I had in a non-government organization setting. I had learned a lot about NGOs during my classes at King’s and Dalhousie, but it was an intriguing proposition to get some on-the-ground experience. At this point I’d already completed an internship in a newsroom environment, but I was looking for something new, exciting and different. I had found it.

There were some learning curves in the early days, as there is with any new role, but the staff at the Dartmouth office were quick to welcome me with open arms. I wasn’t the only intern in the office either: Carrie Drake and Molly Simon were also on-site with NCC's conservation internship program and we became quick friends. They became invaluable, since one of my assignments was to write about the conservation internship program so having them right next door was a huge help.

I soon found myself writing more and more articles and features for NCC’s website and The Ark. I also helped Christine Beevis Trickett, who manages NCC's national editorial sevices, with schedule planning, uploading and tagging photos from conservation teams in the field and coming up with unique content ideas; including a feature on some of Canada’s most notorious invasive species.

I found myself using new software programs like Microsoft Outlook and Photoshop: a tool I never even expected I would use during my three-month placement.

But one of the most rewarding facets of the internship was that I really felt like I was part of a vast network of people with a common goal in mind. There was a palpable sense of excitement whenever a large swath of land was protected, or a vulnerable species was on the rebound.

I’ve always been passionate about environmental issues, having spent much of my childhood at my parent’s cottage surrounded by nature. But my experience with NCC only cemented those feelings.

I’ll admit it: I’ve always seen myself as a print reporter, working for a daily newspaper, covering the major events of the time. It’s what’s been driving me throughout my education and the early stages of my career. But the skills I learned during my time with NCC have been invaluable, especially as I continue to freelance regularly in Halifax.

Anyone who’s looking to broaden his or her horizons in writing, editing or just looking for exciting new experiences, should definitely consider NCC's communications internship program (I'm told job postings will go up in mid-May).

About the Author

Colin Chisholm is a freelance writer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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