Nicole is a recent university graduate who works in the fundraising industry in Ottawa, Canada. Recently, she began a social media and communications internship with Erica Diamond and WomenOnTheFence.com, a website dedicated to personal development for women. She also runs the Ottawa chapter of Ladies Learning Code, a women-run organization offering beginner-friendly tech workshops (ladieslearningcode.com). Nicole is also proud to serve on the Board of Directors of Volunteer Ottawa. Nicole is passionate about helping young women succeed and achieve their career goals. In her spare time, Nicole has been trying her hand at blogging (nskbelanger.wordpress.com), and enjoys live music, skiing, and weekend roadtrips. @nskbelanger
It was the first summer after university - a time of opportunity, excitement, and (occasionally) some anxiety.
I had just finished my undergrad degree in public policy, had a great job at a non profit, and was elected to the board of a local volunteer organization - in short, things were going well!
But I knew I wanted more, and that my current academic and work experience wouldn't be able to give me the skills and knowledge that I needed to eventually pursue my entrepreneurial dreams.
I had done a lot of volunteer work throughout high school and university, and learned quickly that when you don't ask people for money (ie. a salary), they let you do really cool, interesting things! I had part time jobs in the government during my college years, but had missed out on the intensive, career-boosting internship that so many students seek.
So I started the process of looking for a part time internship!
The first (and the most significant) obstacle that I ran into was a lack of available internships in my city. Ottawa has a population of nearly 1 million, but the majority of jobs are government, high tech, or non profit - none of which I wanted.
The second obstacle was a lack of accessible information and job postings. I didn't have a fantastic resource like Intern Queen in my city, so I had to roll up my sleeves and begin job hunting.
I knew it was time to open doors for myself, get creative, and find my own internship.
I surveyed my connections on LinkedIn, and came up with nothing. I did Google search after search, and came up with more nothing. So I began looking at Twitter - carefully studying the work of some of the major influencers in my network, all of whom I admired and respected.
And then I came across Erica Diamond, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of womenonthefence.com. I was inspired by her passion for women entrepreneurs. Erica was herself a successful business owner. She started her first company with only $5,000 and grew it into a highly successful company. Her determination, passion, and commitment to her fellow woman resonated deeply with me.
After carefully researching Erica's work, I sat down and wrote a brief but thoughtful email explaining that I was inspired by her work, and was hoping to have the opportunity to work alongside her and learn from her wealth of experience. I also explained in the email the specific ways in which I could contribute to her business.
It worked. I received a call from Erica a few short hours later, and we discussed the ways in which I could contribute to her work. I then went home and developed a personalized proposal outlining the responsibilities, tasks, and goals that I hoped to accomplish, and sent it to Erica the next day.
It worked! She was so impressed by my initiative that she hired me that day as her intern, and I have had the privilege of working with her ever since!
The moral of my story? Identify your personal goals, and make a plan to achieve them. Be bold, be confident, take initiative and create opportunity for yourself.
You have what it takes, now go make it happen. I did it, and so can you!