“How was your summer? How was your internship?” are usually the main topics of conversation around Bronfman come September. No matter how you spent your four-month long vacation, whether it be interning at a large firm or at a tiny start-up, travelling, or spending quality time with family and friends, there will be a fair share of stories and memories. The Bull & Bear Lifestyle section shares their most unforgettable summer experiences.
Intern turned social worker
This summer, I signed up to be an intern, but unexpectedly became a social worker. Within a week of starting my job, I noticed that something was off at The Company. As I walked down the even lines of cubicles and corner offices, stacks of paper stood as a wall, blocking out any natural light. When I entered my cubicle, I too had a stack of papers, and one too many pads of sticky notes. Perceiving my boss as passive aggressive, I proceeded with my task, which consisted of moving these stacks of papers to other locations.
In need of a task shift, HR relocated me to their file room—only to discover upon arrival that they had not filed anything since 1995. Filing though the papers, I would come across endless marriage and divorce certificates. On one particular occasion, I filed a worker’s medical report, then a few stacks down the line; I ended up filing the same worker’s death certificate.
In need of yet another job change, I became the assistant to a VP whose secretary was on maternity leave. Three jobs in and still nothing for my CV, I was praying for a miracle. Instead, I ended up assisting a woman who was sure in need of one. On my final day of work, I walked in to find her crying over how full her inbox was. I felt like I had landed in the pages of my Organizational Behaviour textbook. I had high hopes for my internship this summer, but all I learned was how to keep my desk organized and strategically avoid being sticky noted to death.
Ernst & Young
This summer was, without a doubt, the best summer of my life! I worked in the Toronto office of Ernst & Young, and met wonderful people from all over Canada. They were amazing individuals, from their personalities to their taste in coffee and doughnuts. I could talk about how fascinating it was testing controls, typing out numbers, doing walkthroughs and the like, but that seems a little dry, so I’ll focus on EY’s socials and events.
All 2,300 EY interns from places as far as Australia, India and Italy came together for the International Intern Leadership conference. We were paid to go to Disneyland and Universal Studios (twice), eat as much as humanly possible, meet new friends, listen to inspirational speakers, and challenge ourselves to fit 2,300 people in one swimming pool. I experienced Chicago and New York City for a month through the Global Student Experience Program that EY runs. Some people may say that accounting is boring, but if you’re having a lovely dinner on a boat under the Brooklyn bridge, courtesy of EY, and talking to people from all over the world, crunching numbers doesn’t seem like a bad deal.
Interning on the banks of the river Thames in the storied Palace which houses both the Commons and the Lords – not to mention Big Ben – I had absolutely no trouble finding the strength to wake up bright and early every morning this summer. However, it wasn’t simply the breathtaking grandeur or the enthralling history of the building I worked in which captivated me day after day; it was the people whom I met within the thick stonewalls of Westminster.
I was fortunate enough to be given a parliamentary internship in the office of Chris Heaton-Harris, MP, who was not only a delight to work for, but an inspiration as well. I witnessed the ceaseless work of a member of parliament who labored day in and day out to fight for the policies and moral beliefs that his constituents elected him to uphold – a charge repeatedly carried out with passion and conviction. His staffers, Tom and David, both equally passionate and engaging, helped me appreciate how the British Parliament operates, and how very important and demanding the work of its members is.
I thank the Hansard Scholars Programme for this truly remarkable experience and hope other McGill students will also get the opportunity to partake in it in the future.
The Red Chamber
This past summer, I spent six weeks interning in the Canadian Senate, during arguably its most chaotic period in recent memory. Between Senators Duffy, Wallin, Harb and Brazeau making headlines for their, uh, “creative spending,” and calls from the public and the NDP to scrap the Senate altogether, the Red Chamber has never been more frenzied… Or, frankly, more exciting.
I had the privilege of interning for Senator Grant Mitchell– who notably lives in Edmonton, both in person and on his expense claims. As one of Alberta’s few and proud Liberals, he brings a vigour and enthusiasm to an institution too often viewed with cynicism. During my brief time in Ottawa, I was able to work on many of his projects: the investigation of systemic harassment and misogyny within the RCMP, the development of a comprehensive mental health strategy for children and youth across the country, and Bill C-279, which would amend the Charter to include gender identity in order to better protect trans* people.
I was also able to meet and work with many members of the Liberal Party, in both the Senate and the House of Commons– and maybe it’s my partisan streak, but I think they’re due for a comeback any day now. You can quote me on that!
The highlight of my summer was spent representing Canada’s U20 National Women’s Rugby Team at Nations Cup in Nottingham, England.
Our team began our week long preparation in Toronto, where we conducted fitness testing and skills assessments, clarified offensive and defensive structures, and outlined our goals for the tournament. Once we landed in the U.K., we began our ‘non-game day’ routine; this consisted of training twice a day, meetings, video sessions, and hydrotherapy. In our first match, we faced the United States: After 80 long minutes, we came out victorious with a final score of 25-15. Four days later we faced England—the reigning champions—and proceeded to upset them 43-15. In our last round robin game, we were set to play South Africa. We remained disciplined and came out with a 37-0 win.
Our final four days were spent preparing for our cup final against the U.S. We spent hours reviewing game film, identifying America’s strengths and weaknesses, and planning our attack. Sunday came and we executed our game plan with precision and discipline, not letting up until the final whistle blew. We emerged victorious as the 2013 Nations Cup Champions, after defeating the U.S. 27-3. This marked the best performance by a Canadian U20 side at Nations Cup ever!