Meet our AWE Student Interns: Nathaniel Haile

Our departing AWE students answer our questions

Nathanial Haile, Marcie Whitecotton - 27 April 2021

Our AWE (Arts Work Experience) interns have been with us a year and will be departing soon.  We asked them all some questions and these are Nathaniel's responses to those questions!

1)  What was your favourite project that you worked on during your time in Arts?

My favourite individual project that I worked on was writing “What Black History Month Means To Me”. The reason why is because of the realizations that I had made. Before writing it, I didn’t feel qualified to write it because of my knowledge of Black history and I didn’t feel like I was the right voice for such an important topic. After writing it and receiving the feedback, I realized that my worries didn’t matter in so long as I owned what I said and my experiences or knowledge shouldn’t be seen as less because in the end, they are my experiences. Through this project, I was able to strengthen my ability to advocate for myself, write succinctly on an important topic, and receive feedback/criticism. 

My favourite group project that I worked on was a program video project that needed to be completed for Open House. For this project, a group of 4 of us were responsible for writing scripts, creating presentations, recording audio, and editing videos for 31 program highlight videos which were each about 3-5 minutes long. We completed this project in three weeks in addition to each of our individual responsibilities. It was a tight timeline but in the end, we made it. The reason why this was my favorite group project because the information in the videos has stuck with me which has made me a better recruiter and it also showed me that I drive straighter with a heavier load. Pushing myself as I did in this project showed how resilient I can be and strengthened my ability to work under pressure. 

2) Your internship was done entirely during COVID. How did working remotely affect your work and the projects you worked on? 

One really obvious way is how we’ve been able to communicate. Not being able to even meet some of the people you work with or something as simple as popping your head into your supervisor's office for a quick question can’t be done in the same way. Although this has been a challenge, it can also be seen as a blessing in disguise because it’s forced me to be more independent and use intuitive thinking so I'm not spending the whole day g-chatting people or being in meetings with them longer than necessary. 

Making personal connections has also looked different working remotely. Since I started my internship working from home, I feel like it took longer to build trust with the people I work with just due to the fact it takes longer to make personal connections. It’s hard to read body language from the 4 corners of a screen and really get to know everyone’s idiosyncrasies. Because of this, I’ve really needed to use my interpersonal skills to get to know everyone and inject more personality into conversations that I’ve had. 

3) What tips do you have for other AWE students just starting in the program?

Embrace the discomfort! Take on projects that intimidate you, pitch your most creative and wild ideas, and most of all, speak up when you can. You are there to learn and more likely than not, you can provide a unique perspective being a student voice and someone brand new to the organization. What you will say and the ideas you pitch will have value. By getting outside your comfort zone, you’ll really learn a lot and you’re mind will always be thinking instead of sitting idle on the task at hand. This can really help you get the most out of your internship.

Another tip I have would be to make learning your priority. Of course, you will have to focus on whatever your supervisors ask you to do but you will be robbing yourself of a great learning experience by not taking time to absorb as much useful information as possible. Sit down with people in your organization for information interviews, take advantage of the “water cooler” conversations, seek professional career advice from the ones who have lived it and also, ask to join the big projects or meetings that you’re supervisors are taking part in, grab life knowledge from the ones you have personal relationships with. More often than not, people in your organization will be more than happy to answer whatever questions you have both professional and personal (when appropriate).

All the best Nathaniel, it has been great working with you this last year.

Interesting in the Arts Work Experience program?  Go to their website for more information!