Every year, the Young Canada Works program funds employment for thousands of Canadian students and recent graduates at museums across the country.
In 2017, I was a student worker, hired to give tours and conduct research for the Lambton House in Toronto. That summer, my job took place entirely on-site — touching artifacts, answering visitor questions, and opening up the museum each morning.
With social distancing regulations and site closures, though, this year Young Canada Works employment may look very different. Over the past few months, many museum workplaces have moved online. Remote work is a new reality for many Canadian museum professionals, some of whom may be wondering how to manage seasonal employees and student work under these unique circumstances.
With this in mind, here are some tips to support your Young Canada Works student remotely and maximize their role at your institution this summer.
Think outside of the box
In the current public health situation, original plans for student jobs may no longer be feasible — but that doesn’t mean funding can’t still support valuable work at your institution.
While funding must be applied to jobs that are similar in scope and task, the Department of Canadian Heritage has committed to increased flexibility in revising Young Canada Works positions.
When determining if remote work is possible for your student, consider this advice from Meagan Mahaffy, education coordinator at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
In a recent webinar with Cuseum, Mahaffy advised museums to think of organizational end goals when creating remote internships. Once these goals have been determined, try to figure out a new strategy to meet them remotely, rather than simply adjusting your original plan.
This creative thinking may open up new opportunities for your institution and ensure Young Canada Works funded positions. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! On that note, we always recommend that you contact your YCW program officer as you consider position changes to ensure that they still fit within the approved scope.
If you determine your project is possible remotely, be sure to think about how to make your student’s onboarding process as smooth as possible.
What information and resources do they need to know to do their job? How can that information be shared remotely? In lieu of traditional training techniques, consider preparing an email package with necessary guidelines, videos, and other resources to make the transition seamless.
Finally, throughout the onboarding process, be patient with your employee. In this time of transition, understand that they may have questions — and be ready to answer them.
This summer, museums across Canada are introducing digital strategies that they may have never used before. This has its challenges, but digital techniques have benefits, too.
While it may present certain challenges to monitor your student’s work remotely, digital technologies can be great tools to keep in contact and interact effectively with your student. Incorporating checkups and team discussions using video conferencing software can ensure projects continue smoothly throughout the work term and help your student feel more connected to the group.
Similarly, remember that your Young Canada Works employee can also be a digital resource.
According to Statistics Canada, nearly 100% of youth aged 15 to 30 use the Internet on a daily basis, with 93% regularly using social networking websites. This falls right into the Young Canada Works demographic — so as your institution adjusts to greater digital programming, remember that your new employee is likely part of the virtual ecosystem and may have some great ideas and skills in this area.
This can be a great resource for your institution, so be sure to take advantage of your student’s digital expertise. They may have suggestions for digital programming or project management that you haven’t even considered!
Part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, the Canadian Museums Association collaborates with the Department of Canadian Heritage in delivering the Young Canada Works program, which offers summer jobs and internships in museums and related organizations. This program is an important investment in the future of the museum industry, creating development opportunities for future colleagues. Be sure to contact a YCW program officer with any questions regarding the program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Rollit is a Carleton University journalism student. She contributed to Muse through Carleton’s internship program.
The YCW program acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada.