Humanities students have many opportunities to put their skills into practice, and several programs offer internship opportunities. We spoke to Kellian Gordon, a fourth-year French student who has just finished her internship with SOFIFRAN. SOFIFRAN supports francophone women and children in Niagara through social, economic, educational, and cultural programs. Kellian will be graduating this spring and starting her MA at the University of Toronto in the fall.
FREN4P05 French Internship is taught by Associate Professor Jean Ntakirutimana in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Culture. Student internships may include health care, tourism, translation, community services and business.
I was astonished at how many doors were opened to students that are a part of the French program at Brock….This internship has allowed me to have real-life opportunities to use the French language in a Francophone workplace. I was put in an environment where I could apply the theoretical knowledge I’ve acquired throughout my courses within the French program and apply them in real life situations.
What has surprised you most about the internship?
I was pleasantly surprised at the range of co-op opportunities we were offered as they seemed to touch all interests from the medical, educational, administration, arts, entertainment or even sports management–the course seemed to have it all!
I was astonished at how many doors were opened to students that are a part of the French program at Brock. Indeed, many other comparable internships don’t have access to a developed francophone community such as the one that can be found in the Niagara region.
We had the opportunity to discover this by participating in workshops led by prominent members of the Francophone community who offered to share their professional experiences. I was thrilled because it reinforced my understanding of the plethora of opportunities that are at your fingertips when you speak French.
What was the most challenging thing that you experienced?
Public speaking has always been a challenge for me and so being the leading spokesperson of a panel was an obstacle I had to surmount. Since I aim to become a professor, I understand that this is something I will have to get accustomed to and my internship with SOFIFRAN made me realize that the journey to achieving that level of comfort can be extremely fulfilling.
I also struggled to stay afloat in managing my classes, co-op, and work schedule. Although this often made me feel discouraged, it helped me develop better organizational and technical skills to manage a busy schedule.
How has this internship prepared you for your MA at the University of Toronto?
This internship has allowed me to have real-life opportunities to use the French language optimally in a Francophone workplace.
I was put in an environment where I could apply the theoretical knowledge I’ve acquired throughout my courses within the French program and apply them in real life situations. The administrative work that I was trusted with allowed me to approach French from a business perspective and enabled me to develop thorough knowledge and vocabulary that will assist me throughout my future professional endeavours.
Overall, this internship has offered me the strength in knowing that I finished my undergrad in French studies by means of theoretical and experiential learning. The cultural activities, the intellectual encounters, and the resources available to me have all contributed to making me a suitable candidate to pursue an MA in Francophone Postcolonial Literature at the University of Toronto in September.
You mentioned organizing and moderating a panel of artists and writers as part of your SOFIFRAN work. What was the panel about?
Moderating a Black History Month panel of artists, writers and entrepreneurs that was financed by the Canadian Heritage and organized by SOFIFRAN as a part of my internship has represented for me the opening to a whole new world, the mixing of cultures, the meeting of people and sharing of diverse ideas.
In the francophone world, a process of reconciliation requires that we acknowledge the hard truths of our history. If we are sincere in our desire to create an inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous society, we must begin by making amends with the communities that have suffered injustices.
It is in this light that the panel question revolved around whether Black history month should go beyond February so that the subtleties of intercultural communication continue to be nurtured – both inside and outside Black community organizations- instead of being reduced to a month. It was incredibly humbling to be surrounded by panellists that had contributed so much to the francophone and black community. Their wisdom made the discussion that much more enriching.