I am currently pursuing my degree at McGill University in International Development Studies and Political Science. I spent summer 2017 in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, where I worked with Fulbright Canada as a Communications and Research Assistant. Fulbright Canada facilitates research and study within the U.S. and Canada, supporting scholars and students to take up a grant period at a host institution in either country. The Fulbright awards support recent graduates, working professionals and scholars, to take up research, study and in the case of scholars, teach, at a university or think tank in the other country. The organization also administers Killam awards which are like the Fulbright Awards but instead, support current undergraduate students wishing to spend an exchange semester within the U.S. or Canada. The work done by the Fulbright Canada ranges from managing applications, coordinating the scholars and students exchanging between the two countries, hosting conferences, supporting alumni, developing new programs and so much more.
As a communications and research assistant, I had the unique opportunity to not only witness the many facets of the organization, but instead, I was directly working with all of them. One of my primary objectives for this internship was to gain as much exposure as I can in the field of communications and public relations. With an organization such as Fulbright, I have definitely hit the jackpot in furthering this objective and more so, having a supervisor that was able to challenge me with work that went beyond my scope. Here are some highlights of the work I did over the summer:
Writing and publishing articles: I was given access to the Fulbright Canada website where I often wrote and published articles on upcoming opportunities, partnerships with new organization, upcoming podcasts and so on. This was an important part of my responsibilities but I also used this opportunity to learn minor coding, and some important aspects of website design. I also learnt a great deal in understanding how to frame articles when publishing with the intent of gauging the reader’s interest while also ensuring the reader is not intimidated by Fulbright’s reputation. Nuances like these were challenging to understand in the beginning, but are straight forward to execute after some practice. When my supervisor asks me to write an article with the purpose of recruiting for a program, I understand that the approach is radically different from an article announcing winners or sharing the work of an alumni; where one article talks about the value of the program, the other might praise the people involved and the work that was done. This was especially important when talking about Canada 150 events and our programs that were associated with it. I learnt to strike a balance of noting the celebrations for the summer while addressing that the history of Canada is something that all Canadians need to reflect upon. In the field of public relations, these nuances are incredibly important and with a summer at Fulbright, these have become second nature for me to think about.
Designing material for programs: One of my greatest achievements for the summer has been my introduction to a range of different software. I was tasked with designing a new folder for the organization (a design for future conferences, programs etc.), a brochure, a book containing the biographies of the new scholars and students and a working program for an upcoming conference. I requested access to Photoshop and InDesign (which Fulbright answered by providing a new laptop with the different software!) and I was able to learn and design a myriad of different documents using them.
While these highlights encompass the overarching work, the smaller experiences like visiting the U.S. Embassy with a personal tour from the Cultural Affairs ambassador, attending events throughout Ottawa on behalf of Fulbright and not to mention, spending a summer in my own corner office, were all equally important in enhancing my experience. The networking and career advice, along with the diverse work experience I was able to harness at Fulbright Canada will always be a crucial stepping stone for my future career. With the conclusion of this internship, I can now happily look towards a career in the field of public relations and communications, knowing I will fully enjoy the work.