Being an Intern at CPA
In the spring and early summer of 2018, CPA was fortunate to secure an intern from the Carleton University Journalism Program. Below is her story about working with us.
In February 2018, I walked through the doors of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA), for a communications internship. I had no idea this would be a place where I would not only be a team member, but also part of an office family.
Although my work at CPA seemed very different from journalism (the field I had been studying for the last three years), I knew this internship would be valuable. I was given the opportunity to learn and utilize many tools that are important in an evolving digital world. In fact, these were skills I would be less likely to develop in a traditional journalism setting. This was important as it contributed to my versatility and adaptability which is an asset to an individual like myself – a young adult who will soon be entering the professional world.
After an amazing eight weeks of learning and knowledge enhancement, my internship manager left the organization. While I was nervous to continue my remaining two weeks without her, I had no doubts that I would still feel welcome.
As an intern, this was a positive experience and the team wanted to ensure I gained value from this internship. They ensured that the experience was a fair one in the sense that both myself as well as CPA were benefitting from my time here.
From intern to employee
On the last day of my internship, I was offered a 10-week, paid contract. I was excited about this, not only because it was a job position that would look amazing on a resume, but because it was an opportunity to stay with a team that I had grown to love so much.
During my transition from an intern to an employee, I felt no changes. This is simply due to the fact that I was never treated as inferior even during the period where I was ‘only’ a student intern. The entire team treated me like their own rather than an outsider, which was common for some friends on an internship or working on contract in other organizations.
What it meant to me
Working at CPA was an experience like no other. It was an opportunity to expand pre-developed skills while also learning new transferable skills along the way.
While CPA is a place of business, it is also a place filled with mentors. The team is always ready to offer a helping hand if needed. They are a group of the most welcoming individuals I have ever crossed paths with. Many of them willing to share their stories and offer advice for the future. As a university student, it is important for me to learn from those around me and I found that at CPA. Each person in the office was super welcoming and helpful, to the point where I could learn from individuals from various departments in the office rather than just those in communications.
The CPA team made an extra effort to get to know me on a personal level rather than just through my work ethic. Throughout the work day, it is common to cross paths with various individuals in the office. Within the daily ‘small talk’ conversations, I had never thought that people truly cared about what was being said, to the point of remembering details for later conversation.
I built relationships with individuals who I hope to keep contact with beyond my time at CPA.
Working at CPA
During my time at CPA I had the pleasure of working on projects in various departments including, communications, APPA and marketing.
I worked with the Communications Specialist to brainstorm and refine subject lines for monthly e-blasts. I played an active role in physiocanhelp.ca updates including layout, reviewing content, troubleshooting site errors and photo and content selection.
In addition to this, I managed CPA social media accounts, specifically pertaining to, producing content, editing content when necessary and engaging with followers. I was also given the opportunity to launch the CPA Instagram account! I met with members of the communications and marketing teams to brainstorm ideas for a CPA business account. I was able to share my ideas and research in terms of content selection and advertising, specifically in regards to Instagram. I was then able to bring those ideas to life.
In preparation for the upcoming 2019 30-Reps shoPTalk blog campaign, I worked alongside the senior practice manager to update and redesign the author brief.
It was a pleasure working at CPA during National Physiotherapy Month. I spearheaded many NPM activities including updating social media relating to NPM, producing NPM sponsor reports and recaps for the marketing team as well as physiotherapy.ca and Physiotherapy Practice Magazine.
I was also able to play a role in the promotion of CPA’s PD Marketplace launch project – 6 skills in 6 weeks. I examined peak times of social media activity and engagements, created catchy subject lines and updated the team with email statistics.
In an effort to prepare for Congress 2018, I worked with the manager of Marketing and Business Development to make document/floor plan updates when necessary. I also played an active role in creating and releasing social media pertaining to congress (super early bird deadlines, ROI letters, ticket availability).
Furthermore, during the duration of my time at CPA I had the opportunity to improve and refine my photoshop skills, enhance and practice my research tactics, brainstorm with team members and work collaboratively with multiple departments.
Learning about physiotherapy – how learning about ‘how physio can help’ helped me
When I began my internship, I had no idea what physiotherapy was, or the types of conditions it could treat. Despite this, the CPA team did not look at me as less, rather they helped me learn.
As time progressed, I found myself advocating for physiotherapy even while outside the workplace. I began recommending physio to my friends and family any time they expressed concerns about different physical conditions. These conversations often resulted in me recommending physiocanhelp.ca for further details and information – a true sign that I loved my job.
However, I had never really realized how much I had been learning. I was driving with my roommate, when we saw an older woman pole walking. My roommate began talking about how she ‘didn’t understand how that could help old people walk.’ I furthered the conversation by explaining how pole walking is a form of physio which contributes to balance and stability. It was in that moment that I realized I had developed knowledge about physiotherapy.
Working here has allowed my love for the CPA team and the practice of physiotherapy to grow.
Life After CPA
My experience at CPA has helped open new doors to many opportunities. I am now working in the office of MP Hedy Fry, the longest serving female Member of Canadian Parliament! I have been able to excel in this new role with the help of the administrative and communications skills I acquired while working at CPA.
I am also the chair of Carleton University’s Peer Conduct Board, a committee that meets with students who have violated residence policy. As chair of this board, I am required to facilitate hearings with students in order to make learning connections while ensuring the appropriate sanctions are chosen. I have excelled in this position through the teamwork and adaptability skills learned during my time at CPA.
CPA was more than just a small internship to me; rather it was a life changing experience that will resonate with me for many years to come.
Pricilla Khan has just begun her fourth year of the Journalism program at Ottawa’s Carleton University. Following her contract with CPA, she embarked on a new journey to California, where she pursued a business leadership program at the University of California – Los Angeles.