After years of wishing, we finally took the plunge and brought on board not one but two (and a half) summer students this year. By accessing two different student employment programs we were able to cover some of the costs of extra hands and brains needed to carry out our summer projects.
One of our students, Jiajia Xu came to us from the Asper Cooperative Education Program. Jiajia is from China and her work was very challenging for someone whose first language is not English. We tasked her with a literature review that required her to identify and create abstracts for hundreds of articles pertinent to a program that is in the developmental stage. We are all extremely impressed with how Jiajia swung herself up the steep learning curve and provided us with high quality summations and a brilliant methodology for organizing the data she collected. Some support for Jiajia’s wages came to us through the Manitoba Career Focus Program.
Gabrielle Morrill came to us a couple of years ago as a 16 year-old volunteer who was just looking for some workplace experience. With her parents’ permission, we put Gabby to work on an environmental scan which she tackled like a pro. The Canada Summer Jobs program allowed us to have Gabby back this summer on her break from the University of Guelph where she is a business student. She assiduously applied herself to updating our Women’s Business Directory, no mean task. Gabby sent hundreds of e-mails and made countless phone calls to women-owned businesses, asking, begging, cajoling and ultimately winning, correct and current information from our province’s women-owned enterprises. Gabby also delivered some top notch specialized research for a unique course offering that will be on our agenda this year.
In early summer, we were approached by a former Board member who knew of a young woman majoring in economics and finance at the University of Western Ontario. She was looking for purely voluntary work experience that would keep her busy about 10 hours a week. This time, we were fortunate to meet Lauren Barker, a bright, organized, mature and very pleasant young woman who has been a great help to all of us as an extra pair of hands for some complex tasks.
These smart, willing, and energetic young women completely belie the picture of our Manitoba teens as want-it-all-have-it-all princesses slouching indolently through their summer holidays. And just as they have learned lots from working with us about teamwork, workplace culture, appropriate business language, work organization and documentation, so have we learned from them about diverse perspectives.
No word of a lie, I’m completely confident that we are in good hands with the next generation and can only hope that in years to come we will be as fortunate in our choices as we have been in the summer of 2011.