Guest Blog: Thinking Differently about the Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP)

When SCiP was first introduced to me it sounded like too much work to begin the process, and I felt like I didn’t have the time to take on another major task, so I put it out of my mind. Since becoming the Executive Director of Volunteer Lethbridge, I have opened my eyes to how great SCiP is and how simple the process of acquiring an intern can be. Here are some things for you to think about:

Shift Your Thinking: Is there a specific task that your organization would like done? Could you use help in completing this task? SCiP has hundreds of students lined to do that task for you. Sounds like a win-win doesn’t it? When you provide an opportunity to someone you are benefitting them, benefitting your organization and ultimately benefitting your community. That is the win-win-win experience that SCiP talks about!

Open Doors: Besides the tasks before you, are there new ideas you would like to bring to fruition? Consider the gifts that students have- I did! A student walked into my office and wanted to volunteer. I always ask, “what is it you would like to do?” He wanted to gain experience as a videographer.  This created a new opportunity for the organization, provided fresh experience for the intern and produced an end product to be proud of. Now I have a much better idea of how to engage more SCiP interns.

A second student was looking for graphic design experience. I showed him a project that I wanted to have redesigned. He had great enthusiasm for the project and he created a clean new look. One deliverable our organization added to his position description was for him to job shadow at a local print shop for a couple of hours. This experience was a major benefit for this intern, he was able to see the importance of the graphic work/design and how it reflected on the process at the printing stage.

Create a virtual opportunity. Students are busy people that must balance school, work, and possibly raising a family. Having a position that a student can work into their hectic schedule is a bonus. SCiP is a creative way for students to gain valuable experience while relieving the burden of student related expenses that come along with being a student. Communication through technology is key; ensure you provide them with what they need to succeed in the position.

Flexibility:  If your organization hires an intern and things aren’t turning out quite how you envisioned, take time to evaluate and adapt the deliverables with the intern and make the experience a constructive learning opportunity for you and the intern. Being adaptable cultivates the sense of significance of working in the nonprofit/voluntary sector as a valuable career choice. There are limitless opportunities, sometimes a shift is what brings about the positive experience.

SCiP has provided me with the resources of six talented students (so far). These students all had different areas of interest and various gifts and talents they wanted to share to gain experience. It was well worth the work. I have met students for whom I have created internship positions, when approached, to match their interests. Most important there is no limit to the number of interns your organization can hire. If you have a job that needs doing, there is a SCiP intern for that.

Expand your vision of what an intern can do for you. Not only are you building up the capacity of your organization but you are also expanding the range of experience for someone who may one day look back and say, “my SCiP experience provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my career choice. SCiP helped me discover what my strengths are and the direction that I wanted to take.”

SCiP engages students by providing tangible experiences that will enrich your organization, the student and the community.


Diana Sim

Volunteer Lethbridge