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Alberta Abroad program coming to a close

By Cynthia Kwan, July 26 2016 —

popular international internship program for university graduates in Alberta is on its last legs.

According to a recent announcement on their website, the internship program Alberta Abroad has been cancelled by the Ministry of Advanced Education for financial reasons.

“Our government is committed to enhancing access to foundational learning programs that help students connect to the labour market and pursue further learning — both here at home and abroad,” said Ministry of Advanced Education press secretary Mike McKinnon in a statement. “It’s important to note that we intend to build on the numerous positive relationships with international organizations to better promote student experiences and Alberta’s economic diversification.”

Alberta Abroad is a program that focuses on sending university graduates outside Canada on short-term internships — referred to as externships -— with international organizations. The program offers positions in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and other countries and cities.

Operations will officially end March 2017. Graduates whose placements are scheduled to end before that date will continue as the last students to attend the Alberta Abroad program.

Colleen Packer, manager of international learning programs at the U of C, said the program had many benefits for university graduates in Alberta.

“The cool thing about the program was that it was a great entry-level position in an international company,” Packer said. “So it wasn’t a fetching coffee or photocopying kind of thing — students were doing real work.”

According to Packer, the program benefitted students from all academic disciplines.

“There were [positions] for sports science, architecture, engineering and social media. There were communications coordinator positions that went up there. There was such a wide variety of areas,” Packer said.

She said the program gave students their first stepping stone towards a lasting career.

“It was a great way for students to get their foot in the door and to experience working internationally,” Packer said. “There were a lot things that were very supported in that which you don’t usually get [until] later in your career or in international work.”

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