INTERNeX Canada: Fun facts about Canadian National Parks

You might have noticed in my last “fun facts” post (it was about beer) that I love writing about stuff I personally like, things I am passionate about or experiences that I have made myself. For me it would be weird to tell you all these stories that I as the author can’t connect to.

Are you ready for some more knowledge? 🙂 Keep on reading then. In my undergraduate thesis in Tourism Management I took a closer look at sustainable vs. commercial tourism development in Canada’s protected areas. So this week, I would like to share some facts and thoughts on Canadian National Parks and why we should care about them.

In the very beginning of the evolution of National Parks in North America – the first one was Yellowstone NP in 1872 -, the only reason to protect these “areas of significant natural beauty” was to create destinations “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”. In other words: National Parks back then were meant to be used as playgrounds for the growing masses of people that had the money to go on a big trip to the newly created parks. As tourist numbers grew like crazy, the awareness about inherent dangers of this development increased simultaneously. After massive environmental movements in the 70s and 80s, the actual protection of natural resources in the parks finally became the number one priority for the people who were in charge of the parks. For Canada, this is a governmental agency called Parks Canada which currently takes care of the 42 (!) existing National Parks and other protected areas as well as the establishment of new parks all over the country. The first National Park in Canada is still its most famous one: Banff NP.

It was created in 1885 after the hot springs were discovered – a perfect attraction for tourists, right? Railroad construction and the Trans Canada Highway literally paved the way for a history of intense tourism development within the boundaries of an ecologically highly sensitive area. Hotels, restaurants, golf courses, two ski hills, shopping and souvenir shops are the result but also the reason why Banff gained the status it has today. Each year, up to 5 million visitors come to see the natural wonders of the park and enjoy the amenities of Banff townsite. It was only in the late 80s when Parks Canada decided to focus on ecological integrity instead of further commercialization and tried to make up for the mistakes that had been made so far. Right now, Banff NP is in a state of recovery but still, the natural system has been highly disturbed already. Their new aim is to re-connect people with the parks and develop true appreciation, for example by new but low-impact recreational activities like zip-lines or via ferrata.

You might say “Okay, fair enough but why do I have to deal with it now?”. For you, this means that you play a major part in the way these National Parks develop in the future and you also determine if the generations after us will still get to stare at glaciers in awe, take a dip in clean mountain lakes and hike through seemingly untouched land. All you have to do is learning more about the parks and about your own impact on the environment, talking about it, getting active and acting respectfully. It must sound like I’m a “green” person – I am not and will never really be I think. I do care though (for example by writing this little blog post here) and this is everything that really matters to the parks in the end.

Here are some websites you might wanna check out if you’re interested:

CPAWS

Parks Canada

Nature Canada

What is your opinion on this topic? Any experiences in the parks you would like to share with us?

Take care,

Marianne

INTERNeX International Exchange
Suite 200 – 211 Columbia Street
Vancouver BC -V6A 2R5-
Web: http://www.internexcanada.com
Phone: +1 (604) 662 8149
Email: pr@internexcanada.com

A Canadian’s Internship Experience

Some of you may know by now that today is my last day as an intern at INTERNeX. You didn’t think you were the only one doing an internship, did you? Many Canadian students also have to complete an internship for their post-secondary education, like me :). I have been a Public Relations intern with INTERNeX for three months now. My main tasks were organizing events, conducting orientation seminars for you guys and doing some design work as well. The time here has gone by so quickly and it seems like just yesterday I was new to Vancouver!

I flew to British Columbia from Ontario on April 28, 2010, excited for what the next three months would bring. I had always heard that Vancouver was an amazing city, and that B.C. was an gorgeous place, so I had high expectations when I first arrived. Ontario is quite a flat province, so flat in fact that on a clear day, the CN tower can be seen from where I live – about 82 km away from Toronto. That being said, you can imagine what I was doing in the cab from the airport: Marveling at the province’s rolling mountains as my eyes darted from peak to peak. That was only the beginning of my most memorable summer experience.

Looking back, I remember dreading the thought of an unpaid internship. The idea of working full-time for a company seemed so unfair and cruel for a student that was already broke from paying tuition. What I didn’t know then, was that my summer internship would prove to be a priceless experience, and the rewards would be far greater than a paycheck.

When you start any new job (an internship is pretty much a job – a bridge between the classroom and a real work environment), you try to imagine what the experience will be like. Will you like the position? Will you get along with your coworkers? What is the office environment like? All of these thoughts raced through my head as I walked to work on May 3, 2010.

As I approached the door to the INTERNeX office, I realized that – as cheesy as it sounds – I was about to open a door to a new experience , and to a new chapter in my life. Internship Tip #1: Breathe.

When I stepped into the office that day, I was greeted with big smiles and polite hellos from the staff. This of course, was a relief, because entering a new work environment can be daunting. Internship Tip #2: Relax and Smile. My first week at INTERNeX was CRAZY, but in a great way. I was able to dive head first into a number of tasks and projects, each one teaching me about the nuts and bolts of the company’s core values and objectives. The more things I did, the more I learned, which brings me to Internship Tip #3: Show initiative. Learn about the company. If you’re done a project, ask for a new task. Help out a busy coworker, even take the office pet for a walk if everyone else is too busy. If you show initiative, this will lead to more responsibility in the future.

Of course when you first begin your internship, there can be a lot to learn. You may suffer a bit of information overload (like I did), so take your time. The company knows you are new. They’re there to help and answer any questions you may have, so when in doubt, ask. Throughout my internship each and everyone of the employees were to help me understand certain programs or visa requirements. All I had to do was ask :).  Internship Tip #4: Communicate.

After learning about the business side of the company, I was able to get to the really fun stuff – events and promotions! Being in PR, this is what I was pumped about! Getting to organize events for clients, and promote partner trips was very exciting to me. My first events with INTERNeX were planning a pub night and a barbecue, both of which enabled me to meet program participants and learn about many different cultures. It was fun to hang out with INTERNeX candidates, but it was also great to hear about their experiences as well. One thing to mention was that because I worked for INTERNeX and became friends with their clients, I had to maintain a professional attitude. This is why Internship Tip #5 is important: Be Professional. Every intern’s duties vary, but you should always be punctual, dressed appropriately and be professional in everything you do.

If you’re looking to complete an internship or are currently completing an internship, remember Internship Tip #6: The Success Of Your Internship Depends On YOU! Someone is not going to hold your hand at work. If you really want to learn, you need plunge into the ocean of opportunity available at the office. There are endless ways to learn and grown personally and professionally in a work environment, so, will you take the plunge?

I can say that my internship experience has been amazing. I have made professional connections, developed friendships, and have learned a tremendous amount. I got to work alongside the owner of the company, the program managers, and other interns. Even Nala, the office dog, taught me something: If you’ve had a busy day, take a short walk outside to clear your head and stretch your legs. You’ll feel amazing.  By following Internship Tip #7: Take Risks, you will find that if you push yourself, you will discover that you’re capable of more than you think ;).

If you’re looking to gain real-world, hands on experience, I would definitely recommend completing an internship. If you have a real sense of adventure, then doing an internship abroad makes the learning experience even more valuable. This world is a huge place. It’s full of great people,  amazing history and beautiful landscapes. What are you waiting for!

Canada is such a beautiful country. Since being in British Columbia I have had the opportunity to see some beautiful, picture-perfect landscapes.  My most recent and most-loved experience was a camping trip to Garibaldi Provincial Park. When you see the following picture, just know that what it looks like to you is nothing compared to when you’re standing in front of it. A picture says a thousand words but seeing with your own two eyes leaves you speechless. This is just one of the amazing places in Canada and I hope you get the chance to see it!

As my day slowly comes to an end, I still can’t believe my internship is almost over! I’ll miss the international staff, the busy atmosphere , even the gurgle of the water cooler beside my desk. But as one door closes, another one opens. Moving on is a simple thing, it’s what you leave behind that’s hard!

Goodluck to everyone in the future, and thank you to everyone at INTERNeX for a life-changing experience.

– Laura

Summer 2010 List

So now that I am done all my final exams and papers I have started to put together a list of all the places, activities, foods, etc I am determined to do/try. Once I have completed these items I will let you know about them and give you a little bit of an introduction to these list items and perhaps you could try them yourself!

1) Number one on my list, surprise surprise it involves food. As some of you know today is my 22nd birthday so I have taken the entire day off to celebrate and I am filling it with all the things that I love. Starting off the day with a nice session at the Steve Nash Gym cause I am going to be indulging in some serious treats and I want to feel guilt free when I do. After my gym session I will be heading over with some of my friends to the Medina Cafe located downtown at556 Beatty Street, between Pender & Dunsmuir.

This quaint little cafe is known around the city for its unique bistro-inspired food served simply and conveniently in a comfortable, chic environment reflecting the lifestyle and desires of the neighbourhood and Vancouver at large. Medina provides a fresh and eclectic alternative with a pioneering attitude towards café culture.
Sister to neighbouring night time hot spot Chambar, Medina is a quaint café serving connoisseur-savvy coffee, Belgian waffles for sweet sustenance and a full breakfast, lunch, and brunch menu comprised of eclectic dishes created by co-owner and chef, Nico Schuermans.

When I go later I will for sure be trying their infamous Lavender Latte, will let you know how it goes!

2) The other week after my last final I headed out with one of my good friends to just have a great meal at one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets. Locate on the vibrant Davie Street at 1326.

This small Mexican Restaurant boasts some of the best food in the area and offers some reasonably priced menu items. I recommend starting off with the guacamole dip which comes with several layers of flavorful dips and a side of oven baked tortilla chips. Oh and of course you need some drinks to start the whole thing off!

Lolita’s is famous for its pint sized sangria cocktails filled with lots of tropical fruit to sink your teeth in. I might have had a few of those so I highly recommend those, they make you feel like your sipping them somewhere tropical. Its nice way to temporarily escape from your realities. After the appetizers, we moved onto the main course and we decided to share the halibut tacos…yum! After that meal were stuffed but the atmosphere was just so relaxed that we ended up staying there for a few hours. This restaurant is a little hidden so keep your eyes out for it! Great place for a date night too *winkwink*

Ciao for now

Meet a New Staff Member

So it has been a few weeks since we had our last INTERNeX staff member introduction. Life here in the office has been pretty crazy and I’ve had a few bumps along the rode so i hope you enjoy one of the few remaining expose’s. This week you will gain a glimpse into Marien one of our lovely staff members who has a lot to offer to both INTERNeX and you…

What is your first name?
Marien

Where are you from?
Mexico City

What languages do you speak fluently other than English?
Spanish and I used to be fluent in Italian because I used to live there back in 1991-1992, but not anymore

What position do you hold at INTERNeX? And for how long have you been working here?
I am the program manager for hospitality and I have been working in/at INTERNeX for the past two years and a half

What made you want to become involved with INTERNeX in the first place?
Years ago I was working in an international programs office at one of the main private universities in Mexico City. I was primarily responsible for student placements within their field of study and INTERNeX was actually one of our partners and that is how I came to meet Tim.

In what ways do you think INTERNeX is unique from other international placement agencies? What does INTERNeX specifically offer that no other company can?
First and foremost our tailor made placements. In this process we are focusing primarily on the participants and their personal goals and from there we find a suitable position for them. Another important and unique aspect of our company is our international team and work environment. We are all highly committed to this companies missions and values and we appreciate the fact that even though we have a substantial amount of systems and procedures in place, we are granted a considerable amount of freedom in which we can truly flourish. Given this room for innovation INTERNeX can always be one step ahead

What changes within INTERNeX have you personally witnessed since you have joined the team?
The city placement program has grown and developed on an exponential level. And we now have INTERNeX New Zealand

Where would you like to see INTERNeX in the next 10 years? Do you have any New Year’s goals for the company?
As other staff members have mentioned previously, I too would like to see at least one INTERNeX office, both for in and outbound, in each continent all around the world. Now what I mean by in and out bound is that we will cater to both international clients wanting to come into Canada and Canadians interested in travelling/working abroad

Tell us one interesting thing about yourself that not a lot of people know?
As most of my candidates I took a gap year myself back in high school. I lived, worked and traveled in Europe for a year and a half. I studied English, worked as an au-pair and even as a cleaner so I can truly relate with all of the participants of our hospitality program.

Oh and another thing is that when I was young I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. At age 6 I was already training 4 hrs a day, but then my family and I moved to a smaller city where there were no Olympic trainers so I unfortunately had to find a new dream.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Well surprise surprise I have to say Vancouver. Coming from Mexico, which is a highly commercialized area with lots of, Vancouver just seems like this evergreen oasis in comparison. It is by far one of the most beautiful cities in the world and everyday I continue to be taken aback by all that is has to offer. But open to new cities and experiences.

If you have any more questions or queries about our programs please do not hesitate to contact us at the office:

INTERNeX International Exchange
Suite 200 – 211 Columbia Street
Vancouver BC -V6A 2R5-
Web: http://www.internexcanada.com
Phone: +1 (604) 662 8149
Email: info@internexcanada.com

Candidate Expose-Matt

Hey, so since the start of our Staff introductions was such a success i thought i would take the next step and introduce to you some of our current/past candidates who have had such great experiences with in their programs and in Canada in general that they want to share their stories with you! So our first interviewee is Matt, he is the Vancouver Staffhouse manager. I’m sure most of you know of him or have met Matt personally but for those of you who haven’t then here is a little peak into his experiences with INTERNeX.

What is your name?
Matthias Weigel

Which program are you currently participating?
City placement at Blenz Coffee Shop

Are you enjoying it? Why?
I am really enjoying working at Blenz Coffee shop. They have a great training program that truly encourages us employees to have a strong work ethic, good communications skills and ultimately great life skills.  The initial training provided is 1 day at the training center, with ongoing training that is also provided every 2 months to asses and improve our skills. There are 3 levels of employees;  Junior, Senior and Master level. I have recently been promoted to the Senior Barista position and i am really proud of myself for achieving this. I think this is a great way to spark a healthy sense of competition amongst employees and it has truly allowed me to excel in a way i did not expect. If you choose to participate in this training program you will be trained, as i was, by Layla who was the 2 time World Free Pour Latte Art Champion. So this was a huge honor to be trained by a true professional. Also throughout my employment at Blenz i have truly been able to build on my customer service skills. The people here in Vancouver are so genuinely open that it’s been really easy to serve them but boy do they have some crazy drink orders!

What kind of experience are you gaining from this experience?
I have actually grown up for a significant portion of my life in the customer service industry since my parents owned a restaurant themselves. Therefore, i am pretty familiar with this whole customer centered environment; however, surprisingly enough working in a Coffee Shop is completely different. I have learnt a lot of stuff from Blenz, particularly in terms of management so it is my dream now to own my own restaurant later on in life. Hopefully, one day this dream will come true.

What do you like the most about Canada?
Well it’s hard just to choose one thing so i’m not even going to try lol. I have been to so many incredible places in Canada some of my favorite places were Victoria where i went whale watching and that was breathtaking and really reminded me of the movie Free Willy. I also went to Whistler and did some snowboarding and then last but not least i loved Tofino where i went surfing. Everywhere i’ve been has truly been magnificent because i’ve been exposed to so many of the beautiful sites in Canada and i love all the nature i’ve been blessed to see.