Investing in the future of Canada’s Environmental Workforce


ECO Canada’s environmental internships lay the groundwork for long professional relationships

For the people at Caro Analytical Services, an Environmental Youth Corps internship is more than a way to find new employees — they look at it as a way to invest in the future of their company. Even if that employee moves on one day.

The environmental and food-testing laboratory, which has offices in Vancouver, Kelowna and Edmonton, has participated in the EYC program four times. Each time Caro has hosted an intern, it’s been because they have brought the program to the attention of a potential candidate.

“During the interview process we’ve determined whether applicants are eligible for an internship, then let the applicants know we’re applying for grant funding, and asked them to apply to the program,” says Ed Hoppe, Division Manager. So far, Caro and its candidates of choice have matched up well with the EYC program, helped along by a straightforward application process.

The program, which 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 differs 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 hosts and interns across the country.

“We found this nothing but a good experience for us,” says Hoppe, who urges other organizations to find out if they’re eligible, even if they aren’t planning to hire right away. “Sometimes when the grant funding is made available, we put in an application anyway, so we’re immediately aware when we have grant funding available.” The advance preparation has allowed them to consider bringing on an intern — and investing in training — when project budgets might otherwise prevent it.

Interns who were approved through the EYC program to work at Caro. Left to right: Alysha Zuzek, Chemistry Analyst;  Cascade Tong, Microbiologist; Justine Forester, Aquatic Toxicologist.
Interns who were approved through the EYC program to work at Caro. Left to right: Alysha Zuzek, Chemistry Analyst; Cascade Tong, Microbiologist; Justine Forester, Aquatic Toxicologist.

“Typically, our industry looks for people right out of university,” says Hoppe. “And that’s the majority of people who are applying — people who are graduating and looking for their first positions.” Everything the organization does is science-based, so it’s a direct translation of the laboratory environment new graduates have experienced at school, brought to life in the real world, with environmental regulations, diverse clients (including government and private sector organizations), and new processes to navigate.

“It’s a great way to start a career,” says Hoppe. While many of Caro’s young candidates stay on, others decide their career trajectory includes graduate school, often in science and medicine.

“It’s almost a kind of seeding program,” says Hoppe. “People who start here and go on to other forms of consulting or a role in a provincial ministry still have a level of connection with us. They’re great connections to have.” Those who end up on the client side often bring with them easier relationships, thanks to their lab experience and understanding of environmental regulations.

While some companies might view this as a drawback, the team at Caro looks at it as a way of opening doors. “We cross paths again,” says Hoppe. “So we consider it a win-win situation.”

ECO Canada is now accepting is accepting applications for EYC’s 2016 Program.
Learn more on hosting an intern

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