Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Canadian Organizations - International Youth Internship Program (IYIP)
Internship development and recruitment
Consider a continual recruitment process to build a pool of potential candidates beyond specific recruitment cycles or dates.
Whenever possible, have a pool of back-up candidates available in case of last-minute dropouts.
Involve former interns, if any, in the recruitment process (to share information on internship opportunities within social networks, during discussions at fairs or information sessions, etc.)
Allow sufficient time to ensure rigorous selection of candidates: combine two or more steps in the process such as pre-screening calls, individual interviews, group interviews, involve a panel of interviewers, reference checks, etc.
Involve local partners in the selection process by allowing them to vet pre-selected candidates to ensure they meet the assignment needs and requirements, and are the best fit.
Don’t fill positions if candidates are not qualified and properly vetted.
When selecting interns, focus on intercultural development and competencies rather than age while respecting the guidelines.
Review and amend assignment descriptions regularly in consultation with returning interns and partners. These should be as specific as possible to ensure outgoing interns have an accurate sense of what will be expected of them on the ground.
Communicate the profiles and backgrounds of selected interns with local partners well in advance, to promote the best fit of the intern to the assignment/position.
Regularly review internship agreements with local partners to ensure understanding of program objectives and each party’s role and responsibility.
You may wish to refer certain applicants that apply to your program who are not successful to the Global Affairs Canada IYIP web site to consider other programs through other Canadian partners.
If an applicant from Quebec has both a Diplôme d’etudes professionnelles(DEP) in conjunction with a secondary school diploma, he or she can now be considered eligible to apply for the IYIP. Proof of study should be kept on file for these participants to confirm eligibility.
Some partners have expressed interest in having presentations for interns to help them find employment opportunities in the Canadian Public Service. If your organization is interested in such a presentation during your re-integration trainings, you can directly contact Lauren Lemay from the Public Service Commission of Canada or send an email to the generic mailbox should Lauren be unavailable. This presentation will allow interns to know the employment opportunities that exist within the Public Service and how to go about their job search.
As there is no specific budget line item for communication and promotion expenses incurred during recruitment (for example: internship announcements on websites or on social media, printing of promotional material), these should be included in the financial reporting table under ‘1.5.5 administration costs’ or ‘1.5.6. other direct costs’. (In the IAYI budget table, these costs would be included under ‘1.5.6 recruitment and post-internship innovative activities).
Pre-departure training and preparation
If possible, conduct pre-departure training with all interns present (if possible avoid individual and distance training).
Put interns in contact with their local partner as soon as possible (email, skype) to establish a prior connection, discuss the assignment to be carried out and the cultural context.
Recommended elements to include in pre-departure training:
Information on program objectives and Canadian public engagement requirements;
Presentations on cross-cutting themes, development project management, awareness of cultural differences;
Information on required visas and procedures, including potential delays;
Security training, including gender aspects, and briefing on crisis management (natural disaster, coup, etc.), where appropriate;
Health and mental health training and support: risk management strategies, and/or individualized coping mechanisms as necessary; and
Country-specific information. Language training, if necessary, ideally for the duration of the internship.
Carve out more time for administrative duties such as visa processes to ensure interns get enough time to apply for the right type of visa when required.
If possible, organize meetings with former interns who have worked with the same local partner and / or people from the host country, as soon as possible.
Emphasize the need to remain flexible and adaptable with respect to the nature of the assignment, and any changes or opportunities that may arise.
Consider using online tools (ex. Google Docs) to have interns continually share and update valuable tips to incoming interns (i.e. housing advice, safe local taxis or transportation contacts, best markets in the city, packing lists, etc.)
Review the terms of the agreement between your organization and the intern, including any obligations in the event of any early return.
In addition to emphasizing the importance of your Code of Conduct, remind interns that they are ‘ambassadors’ for Canada when abroad; good and professional behavior / comportment is crucial.
Register Canadian citizens in the ‘Registration of Canadians Abroad’ (ROCA) online registry.
For each cohort, send a list of names of Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents directly to the appropriate Embassy or High Commission so they may engage directly with interns while in the field (https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/embassies-consulates) Address your message to: ATTENTION: DEVELPOPMENT PROGRAM (cc: your project officer), if you don’t have a name.
In the field
Small groups of interns (2 to 3) in one location can help to facilitate cultural integration, adaptation and on some cases minimize behavioral issues.
Provide an orientation session on arrival, involving the local partner.
Facilitate a more substantial financial transfer from the outset (allowing for higher initial spending).
Offer, if possible, the choice between living in an apartment or in a host family, depending on the following advantages and disadvantages:
Host family: promotes cultural adaptation and inclusion, may be more affordable, possibility of lack of privacy and independence
Apartment: allows more freedom and independence, slower cultural adaptation, risk of expensive rental requirements/agreement (paying 3-6 months upfront), higher overall costs
Identify and communicate to interns before departure and upon arrival:
Where and how they may access the Internet if in a remote area;
The living conditions they may face (such as no access to clean drinking water or washroom facilities, lack of privacy, small space, restrictions on freedom, or living conditions in pre-arranged accommodation); and
Interns' expectations for accommodation and cleanliness.
Ensure that the in-field work is sufficient, meaningful, and manageable for interns.
Ensure that a plan is in place to provide stipends to interns in remote areas.
Community outreach activities
Encourage interns to start planning community outreach while in-field and provide clear guidelines and objectives.
Recognize that interns' efforts may be limited in places where access to technology is unreliable.
Provide practice in community outreach. Work on gaining confidence to share interns' stories. Share success stories to encourage other youth to become interested and be involved in international travel.
Provide financial support for public engagement.
Before the end of the internship, discuss potential challenges related to returning to Canada.
Revisit the themes covered in the pre-departure session, putting the experience in perspective.
Review public engagement activities.
Conduct workshops on employability (job search, resume, return to school, transferable skills development).
Connect with former interns, providing opportunities for them to engage in activities of the Canadian organization.
How do we know what constitutes an innovative activity?
An innovative activity could include, but is not limited to
Planning a post-internship activity where interns organize an intercultural conference and agenda based on lessons learned during their internship;
Implementing a career coaching activity or tailored mentorship throughout their internship;
Organizing a post-internship ‘hackathon’ for interns to brainstorm solutions for international development issues;
Putting together new public engagement activities, such as podcasts, social media prizes, film festival participation, etc., and providing the pertinent training to add onto the interns’ skillset;
Adding a new activity in the pre-departure training on managing trauma and self-care.
Consider partnering with a third-party organization to build onto its expertise in international development, public engagement and/or employability-related innovative activities.
The allocated 5% of the budget for innovative activities does not have to be for each intern. It can be pooled together to perform one innovative activity for everyone.
There is no issue in spending more for the innovative activity in one year compared to the other.
If not in the approved work plan, ideas for new innovative activities should be validated by GAC project officers prior to implementation.
As noted in ‘Recruitment of marginalized or under-represented youth’ if a former IYIP intern is involved in your recruitment activities, this can also be considered part of your Innovative Activities, if the goal is to at least partially to recruit under-represented youth, a more diverse set of youth, or youth that have faced barriers.
What steps do we follow if we have to change partners or countries?
To add a partner in an existing country, the following is required:
A letter of agreement with the new partner (as you submitted with your original proposal);
A description of the local partner;
A justification as to why the new partner needs to be added to the project
Once the information is provided, GAC will need to consult with the corresponding Canadian mission abroad to seek feedback; the process can take from a few days to a few weeks.
To add a new country to the project, an amendment to the Contribution Agreement is required, including:
The Country Annex for the new country;
Letters of agreement with new local partners;
A more lengthy justification as to why the new partner needs to be added to the project, including for example, the new security environment; and
Details on any financial impacts on the project.
The process may take up to four to five months, depending on the number and the countries added.