Growing Canada’s Environmental Start-ups

For Supriya Tandan, joining Nimonik as an Environmental Youth Corps intern set her career on an unexpected trajectory. Learn how the EYC internship program helps grow careers and environmental start-ups.
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ECO Canada’s EYC Internship Program subsidizes up to 50% of a new hire’s salary

For Supriya Tandan, joining Nimonik as an Environmental Youth Corps intern set her career on an unexpected trajectory. The former graduate student, who had spent years studying community ecology, found herself delving into another area of the environmental sector — environmental law — for a web start-up.

“I was not exactly an expert in tech or regulations when I started here,” Supriya says, “Though, I have always been interested in policy and politics so it wasn’t an unsurmountable leap for me. This internship allowed me to explore different qualities I might never have discovered about myself.”

The EYC internship program allowed the Montreal-based start-up, which was home to two employees at the time, to hire an additional person. “In a small business, the power of one employee is significant,” says Supriya. “If we employ one person, but the right person, that person can help push our company to the next level.”

The internship, which subsidizes up to 50% of the intern’s salary up to $15,000, allowed Nimonik to invest in training on a way it wouldn’t otherwise have been able to.

Since Supriya’s internship in 2013, Nimonik has hosted two others. The program is administered by ECO Canada and receives funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Science Horizons, gives new graduates opportunities to start their careers in the environmental sector and host organizations the chance to expand their teams.

The program differed from typical “internships” in that host organizations participate with the intention of hiring the candidate for a full-time position once the year-long internship ends. With $7-million in funding in place for 2016, the program is gearing up to match a second phase of hosts and interns across the country.

Now that she’s on the other side of the equation, Supriya has a deeper appreciation for what the internship can mean for hosts in ways beyond financial. “I think it’s a really good opportunity to help people find their voice,” she says. New graduates have a lot of expertise in some academic disciplines, but internships give them a chance to demonstrate other, real-world, skills — for example, their ability to lead a group, convince others of an idea, or collaborate on a project.

“It’s about what their voice can bring to the organization,” Supriya says. And hosts who want to get the most out of the program can benefit most by giving their interns real, meaningful work. “Most of the young professionals that come out of university in this sector are motivated to work hard to solve a problem. They go the extra mile because they want the fruits of their labour to make a difference.”

Unleashing that “something” within a new intern doesn’t require magic. To Supriya, it’s simple: “Get to know your interns. Get to know them as a human, not only as your worker. Understand what gets them up in the morning and what keeps them up at night; their hobbies and interests. They’ll come in handy. Those little things that make them unique are the value-add to your organization.”

And that effort and enthusiasm have a payoff for every host, whether big or small.

Learn more on hosting an intern

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