Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 29, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Universities Canada was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
- Along with supporting a number of charitable initiatives each year, Universities Canada encourages employees to give back to the broader community by sponsoring one employee per year to participate in the Leave for Change Program, allowing employees to devote part of their vacation to volunteer in a developing country
- Universities Canada offers excellent maternity and parental leave top-up payments, up to 70% of salary for a full year for new mothers and 35 weeks for new fathers and adoptive parents -- additionally, employees can take advantage of onsite daycare when they are ready to return to work
- Universities Canada offers 4 weeks of starting vacation allowance, moving to 5 weeks after 5 years on the job -- additionally, employees receive paid time off during the winter holidays as well as up to 5 paid personal days, which can be scheduled as needed
Interns play an important role at Universities Canada
Interns are a big part of the culture at Universities Canada, an Ottawa-based organization that is the voice for Canadian universities. That's lucky for Emily Kathen, a University of Ottawa student who has completed two internships there and currently works part-time as a digital communications officer. Kathen will be full-time once she graduates in January 2019.
"What makes it different is the people," says Kathen. "They're incredibly motivated, talented, supportive and very positive. We're a small team but get a lot done. There's a buzz in the air that I feel, especially when it's very busy - and we always pull it off in the end."
As an intern, Kathen noticed the hierarchy was more collaborative than at other internships. After two weeks, she was given assignments that her superiors were working on, which made her feel part of the team.
"I never felt like I was just an intern," says Kathen. "I felt trusted because they were giving me work that really mattered. You're not just someone who comes for four months, leaves and everyone forgets you."
Play is part of the environment too, making it an attractive workplace for young people. At Halloween, Kathen dressed as a social butterfly with social media apps stuck to her as she carved pumpkins alongside her colleagues.
"There's this fabulous spirit here," says Kathen. "People are willing to take time off from their busy schedules for these fun events. The culture is very engaging."
Paul Davidson, president and CEO of Universities Canada, remembers the day Kathen arrived right before a major event and how she ended up writing the script for journalist Shelagh Rogers, who was to be the emcee.
"It's intentional that our interns get meaningful work from day one," says Davidson. "We believe in the value of work-integrated learning, which is related to our mission. It has real benefits for our students and existing workforce. Young people bring new skills, approaches and attitudes."
Hiring interns has worked out well for the organization, helping managers spot talent early. A number of current employees started as interns.
"It's a competitive two-way process," says Davidson. "We're interviewing the students but they're also interviewing us." As 73 per cent of the staff are women, Universities Canada is also committed to promoting women into positions of leadership.
"We've invested in coaching, executive training and stretch assignments for women of promise," Davidson says. "We've got a new generation of women leaders who are doing exceptionally well."