Sunday, September 7, 2014

Internship Spotlight: Anik Brazeau

I recently watched the comedy The Internship. It's the movie where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunite, this time crashing at the Google Headquarters rather than weddings. While I can't necessarily promise you that same level of entertainment in this post (I am no Vince Vaughn), I will share my internship experience in about two hours less time.

Four months ago, near the end of April, driving a van filled to the brim with stuff, I left Sudbury and the still frozen Lake Ramsey behind, en route to Ottawa. The five-hour drive gave me some time to reflect. As I cruised down Hwy 17, I thought of how much we'd learned this year, the skills we'd developed and the amazing connections we'd made. It hit me, then, that I was leaving the comforts of the SciComm bubble and that I'd be taking my toolbox with me to a whole new setting in the real world.

The following day, I started at NSERC (that is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada). Nervous and excited, I definitely felt outside of my comfort zone at first, but being welcomed by the External Relations and Communications team (ERC) put me at ease. I spent the first few days becoming more acquainted with what NSERC does, soon realizing that its role extends beyond funding science and engineering research. NSERC also supports science promotion organizations, it connects businesses with academic researchers, it celebrates top scientists and showcases the far-reaching impacts of their work, it promotes careers for women in the field and it engages with the community at live events and online. These many facets ensure that there are always several projects on the go, and, in this fast-paced multi-task environment, I discovered the importance of being as proactive as possible. 

I am extremely fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to contribute to a variety of different projects; from drafting speaking notes and developing communications plans, to writing plain language research summaries and orchestrating expert alerts, to attending meetings and being involved in staff consultations, it’s always busy and it's always interesting in ERC. I’ve really enjoyed being immersed in the communications world this summer, and I’ve learned a lot since my first day (I feel like I may have finally mastered the plethora of acronyms that make up the lingo). Through this experience, I have also gained new insights in areas with which I was less familiar, such as public affairs, branding and strategic communications, and I've seen my communications skills benefit greatly. It’s been a great final chapter to round out the past year in Science Communication and working in this capacity, with a highly proficient team of communication experts around me, has only reinforced my enthusiasm for well-crafted communication and given me greater confidence in this field.

- Anik Brazeau, SciComm '14