In high school Andi Jordan was into drama and photography, but at university, academics took precedence and it became challenging to find an outlet for her creativity. As a Special Events Assistant for the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area (MPBIA), Andi reconnected with the arts in Vancouver while working on a number of community art initiatives.
“Engaging with the art community, as a hobby of mine that I haven’t been able to pursue in university, was such a breath of fresh air,” she says.
In her role, Andi helped coordinate community events in the Mount Pleasant area, took on social media promoting, and helped businesses prepare for MPBIA events and initiatives.
“I helped draft grant proposals to the City of Vancouver concerning community art initiatives, and met with several community leaders to discuss what went right with previous festivals and what we were planning on doing this year,” Andi explains. “I also worked the back end of our website, so I was in charge of writing blog post, generating special events newsletters, and sending out surveys.”
Andi believes that any student could benefit from completing an internship – regardless of their educational background. As a Political Science student specializing in Asian relations, her internship might not have had obvious connections to her degree, but it allowed her to develop skills that she wasn’t getting from school or previous part-time jobs in customer service.
“I remember looking at the Arts Internship partners and job listings and thinking: I’m doing a degree in political science, why would I want to be a social media coordinator? How does that fit with me?”
She encourages students to look past the minutiae of each position, suggesting that an internship is not about its explicit content, but rather developing skills that every future job will require, including communication, building connections and writing emails.
“What comes to mind with an Arts degree are soft skills, and while I feel very versed in those, I felt like I was lacking the hard skills of office coordination, coordinating meetings and that sort of thing,” she says.
“I also just wanted to see if I even liked working in an office.”
To this end, a four to eight-month internship is a short-term commitment to figuring out long-term career goals. Andi saw it as a low-risk way to test the waters of a job.
“It’s a good way to see if you like what you do, and what you’re thinking about going into,” she says.
Her favourite part of the position was learning the ins-and-outs of the festivals that MPBIA puts on. It has changed the way she sees the neighbourhood, and the city at large. After working extensively on the Vancouver Mural Festival, she says murals pop out at her now.
While her internship hasn’t affected how prepared Andi feels to graduate, it has made her feel confident that there will always be interesting opportunities to pursue between school and jobs.
“Whether it is paid or unpaid, whether it is in my field or not – I won’t just be sitting around,” she asserts. “And no matter what I do it will help me towards my end goal, whatever that may look like.”