Hundreds of additional internships offered to UBC Sauder students

Michael Tersigni, Sofia Martinez, and Chaissan Ashcroft
Posted 2020-10-13
Finding Co-ops and internships is increasingly tough for university students as COVID-19 has weakened the economy and created labour market jittters. Thankfully, students are finding meaningful work through a creative partnership that matches qualified business students with employers seeking help with their business challenges. 

UBC Sauder was the pilot school in a network of Canadian business schools to partner with Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to work with universities, companies and governments to support industrial and social innovation. 

The Mitacs Business Strategy Internship program was launched in May and through the efforts of the team at the UBC Sauder Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre, nearly 200 graduate and undergraduate students were placed in summer internships with small to medium-sized enterprises and not-for-profits. Students were paid a $10,000 stipend shared by Mitacs, the employer and the school. 

The program was so successful for both students and employers that Mitacs has extended the funding through the Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 school terms. This means up to 300 new internship opportunities are being offered through the Business Career Centre.

“Mitacs is proud to partner with UBC Sauder to provide practical, research-focused work experience for students addressing the specific challenges that organizations face during COVID-19,” says Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director John Hepburn. “Successfully pivoting operations is requisite to our economic recovery and future success.”

Bringing new skills and perspectives 

The first batch of UBC Sauder students hired through the summer season made an instant impact in Canadian workplaces. They arrived with a solid business foundation and practical skills in finance and accounting, data analysis, marketing and business development. They also brought new ideas, problem-solving skills and a genuine desire to help. 

Photo of Michael Tersigni

BCom student Michael Tersigni provided marketing, communications and social media support to Pioneer Community Living Association. 

Third-year Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student Michael Tersigni spent the summer working for Pioneer Community Living Association (PCLA), a not-for-profit that provides housing and other support services for those living with mental health challenges. 

“My job was focused on building out PCLA’s brand presence along with establishing some new communication tools and practices,” says Tersigni, who is majoring in Marketing with a concentration in Business Analytics. 

“I reported directly to the Executive Director, so I felt my work was valued. I feel fortunate that I could dip my hands into many areas of the business.”

Photo of Sofia Martinez Lopez

Sofia Martinez Lopez led a market research project to help non-profit MOSAIC develop new sources of revenue. 

Sofia Martinez Lopez is also a Marketing student in the Commerce program. She was looking for an opportunity with a not-for-profit and was thrilled to be hired by MOSAIC, an organization that provides settlement services for immigrants and refugees.

According to MOSAIC’s Director, Michael Radano, “The pandemic has had a detrimental impact on MOSAIC’s social enterprise initiatives, which fund many of our programs. Consequently, drastic measures had to be taken. The Mitacs program is helping us pivot our business practices and offerings, so we can not only survive, but thrive in the long term.”

Martinez Lopez, who is in her fifth year of studies, contributed to MOSAIC’s transformation by conducting in-depth market research and analysis to identify new communities and social enterprise opportunities. The job was a perfect fit.  

“What really drives me is being able to create impact for something that is greater than myself, so either for a community, an individual or the environment. That’s where I find my career interests push me to succeed as far as I can.”

Photo of Chaissan Ashcroft

Chaissan Ashcroft researched new markets for Groupanizer, the tech company behind Choir Genius.

Fifth-year BCom student Chaissan Ashcroft was hired by Groupanizer, a mission-driven tech firm that produces software to support community choirs. Choir Genius is a digital solution for managing a group’s musical, administrative and fundraising activities. 

“My job was to research markets to expand into, as well as determine key needs of various industries. I then made recommendations about the direction that the company should go in the future,” says Ashcroft, who is majoring in Finance and Marketing and has a musical background.

“In these times, I feel it’s important to support organizations that might be struggling. Choirs are all about building community and so I enjoyed playing a role in building this sort of harmony.”

Program extended to support more employment opportunities

It’s clear from the many success stories coming out of the first phase of the program that the partnership between Mitacs and UBC Sauder has been a win for students, employers and the Canadian economy. 

In the second phase of the program, up to 300 additional job opportunities will be advertised over the next five months through the Business Career Centre. Under the new funding model, Mitacs and the employer will split the cost of hiring a business student for the Winter 2021 and Summer 2021 school terms. 

The program is being expanded to include not only small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits, but large organizations as well. Applications submitted by employers will be reviewed and processed within two business days. 

For more information, visit the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship program