My three months as NCC's national communications intern

Gillies Grove trail (Photo by Asha Swann/NCC intern)

Gillies Grove trail (Photo by Asha Swann/NCC intern)

September 2, 2021 | by Asha Swann

I highly anticipated being part of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) team this summer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about animals and the environment. In middle school, I became obsessed with The Story of Stuff, a short documentary about how overconsumption leads to pollution. As the years went on, I learned that environmental sustainability is not a one-time thing, and it’s certainly not an immediate overnight process. One thing was constant over the years, though: I knew I wanted to combine my passion for the environment with my major in journalism.

In the summer of 2018, I applied to be a communications intern with NCC at their Toronto office. Unfortunately, I did not get the position. At the time, I felt disappointed, but I was still inspired by NCC and wanted to work in the environmental field. 

Looking back, I think it was for the best that I didn’t get the internship position that summer. After being rejected, I fine-tuned my skills. I took more writing classes and held volunteer positions around my city. I learned about environmental organizations in my town and participated in school-wide clean-ups. By the time I applied in May 2021 to be NCC’s national communications intern, I felt more confident in my writing and researching skills than I did in the years prior.

Being the national communications intern meant learning about communications both internally and editorially and how NCC’s written content informs the public. This meant I was learning everything from how to create an internal newsletter to writing/editing blog posts. An internship with NCC meant getting real-world skills and experience in what a career in this field could look like. 

My editorial content contributions were based on writing blog posts and featured species profiles. Every post I wrote went through rounds of fact-checking and editing, something I’m very familiar with as a journalism major. Every piece of feedback I received was important. I can honestly say that having a communications internship with NCC has made me a better writer. I know these are skills I will carry with me, not just as I head into another semester of university, but outside of the classroom as well. This internship solidified that I am passionate about the environment and want to keep writing about the importance of habitat conservation.

Being an intern during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that I worked remotely. I probably had every tech problem possible when I first started working in June. No matter what issue I was having, the amazing NCC staff were not only patient, but quick to hop on a Teams call and ensure I was getting the help I needed, especially my supervisors, Wendy and Raechel. They were were incredibly organized, and they detailed out what I would be learning every week. 

Even though my internship was online, it was not limited to staring at a screen all day. We frequently had thought-provoking internal webinars, covering topics such as upcoming tools for habitat conservation and Indigenous sovereignty to the land. I also had the opportunity to collaborate with another intern in co-writing a blog post about visiting different NCC properties across Canada. Her reflections from Halifax compared to mine here in Ottawa show that no matter where you are in the country, NCC properties provide a much-needed break from screens and city life.

Another memorable part of my internship was having authentic conversations with the professionals around me. I scheduled “coffee chats” over Teams — short calls similar to what students would have if we could actually meet with someone for coffee and talk about what a career in this field would look like. This taught me one very valuable lesion: no one has a linear career path. I often feel that I’m lagging behind my peers because I’m 24 years old and still in school for a bachelor’s degree, but learning that nearly everyone around me has gone through career changes since graduating makes me feel more at ease. 

I’m not exactly sure what my career path looks like over the next five years, but I know I’m still just as drawn to writing, media and the environment as I was in middle school watching The Story of Stuff for the first time. No matter what direction my career takes me, I know I’ll carry the skills that NCC has taught me. The ability to stay organized when facing deadlines, how to work with a team of other editors and the power of research are essential tools in any communications field.

Courtesy of Asha Swann

About the Author

Asha Swann is the 2021 National Communications Intern at NCC.

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