Where are they now? Intern Alumni Spotlight: Carys Richards

Carys Richards at Waterton Lakes National Park, AB (Photo by NCC)

Carys Richards at Waterton Lakes National Park, AB (Photo by NCC)

July 11, 2019 | by Hai Lin Wang

This blog marks the 11th Intern Alumni Spotlight — a series highlighting some of the individuals who have interned with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in the past. Sarah Ludlow was featured as the last Intern Alumni Spotlight, and this month we are following up with Carys Richards.

Where she started: With the goal of becoming a sports journalist, Carys Richards attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), where she majored in photojournalism. During her time there, she wrote for her student newspaper and local publications, where her byline was always in the sports section. However, by the time she graduated in 2015 with her journalism diploma in hand, she had a few different goals in mind.

As an intern: In 2014, between her first and second year at SAIT, Carys took an unexpected internship at NCC as the national communications intern. Instead of writing about sports, she applied the journalism skills she learned in school to science communications and finished her internship with a new appreciation for nature.

Where she is now: After graduation, Carys returned to NCC as the communications manager for the Alberta Region.

“My work isn’t just focused on communications,” says Carys. “As a manager at NCC’s regional offices, you actually wear a lot of hats.”

Her daily duties consist not only of managing Alberta Region’s writing and photography, but also contributing to the marketing and development departments. When needed, she is ready to answer any questions about NCC’s work in Alberta.

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Carys and her dog, Kahlua, at Nigel Pass, AB (Photo by Jesse Knowlden)

Carys and her dog, Kahlua, at Nigel Pass, AB (Photo by Jesse Knowlden)

Thoughts about her time as an intern: As a journalism student writing for the school newspaper, Carys had structured working days and never needed to venture outside of her school environment to write a story. Her NCC internship was different from her experiences at school; she was never heavily managed and was expected to design her own internship. It gave her a lot of freedom to be creative in building her own path as an intern and a working professional. Ultimately, her drive and passion for communications allowed her to enhance her interviewing and writing skills.

“Your internship is what you make of it,” says Carys.

Her advice for interns and students: Carys recalled one significant moment in her student life. She was at a hockey game and spotted a sports photographer there. She approached him on a whim and introduced herself as someone who was interested in his field.

“I remember he said to me ‘I’ve never had a student come up to me like that’.”

Carys Richards (Photo courtesy of Carys Richards)

Carys Richards (Photo courtesy of Carys Richards)

From then on, she met all the television sports professionals in her local area and developed good relationships with the sports editors from the local newspapers. Though she did not end up pursuing a career in sports journalism, she learned about the benefits of taking initiative and saying yes to opportunities — something that she recommends all students do to land their dream job.

While it is important to focus and work hard to achieve your career goals, Carys suggests that you should also remain open to other possibilities. Only after doing an internship at NCC did she realize the grand scale of communications as a field and how applicable her skill set was to other fields.

Even if you do not end up in your dream career, your experiences and skills can open many doors. You never know when you might stumble into a career that you never expected to love.

The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Summer Work Experience program.

Hai Lin Wang

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Hai Lin Wang was the 2019 national communications intern at NCC.

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