With the restrictions and changes in society resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been several changes to our process and our regular onboarding schedule for the 2020 Northern Development Internship programs. Below we have compiled some of the frequently asked questions in a single resource to communicate some of the changes and thoughts related to COVID-19 happening behind the scenes, as well as answer some unrelated but important questions in order to keep everyone informed.

This page will be updated regularly as new information is made available. Any further questions can be directed to Darrin Rigo, Internship Programs Manager, via email to darrin@northerndevelopment.bc.ca.

Q1) I was successful in my interview and have been placed in a community – now what happens?

A1) Our highest priority in the next steps is the safety and comfort of our interns and our host communities. This has led us to provide a great deal of flexibility as every community and every intern are going to have a different way to proceed due to the current restrictions. Each mentor has received guidelines around how to proceed with the following options:

1) Onboarding an intern remotely and under work-from-home (WFH) orders.

2) Proceeding with a relocation and onboarding under a new timeline and with physical distancing.

3) Indefinitely postponing start dates until having greater clarity on the pandemic.

In each of these scenarios, our mentors have been asked to account for different scenarios and variables and present an amended work plan that addresses those scenarios. After Northern Development reviews the amended work plan, all mentors will be reaching out to their interns to outline their decision and begin the discussion with the intern on how to best proceed with safety and comfort in mind.

Q2) Is there an orientation happening in Prince George this year in May?

A2) A decision has been made to postpone our in-person orientation until later in the year (or beyond, depending on the orders of the province). It will be reframed as more of a reflection/conference-style professional development as a way to debrief and reflect midway through your internship. There will be supplemental online orientation modules provided in the opening weeks of your internship and the Internships Program Manager will be providing support via virtual check-in calls and regular emails.

Q3) Could my internship be cancelled after I’ve been selected due to the impacts of COVID-19?

A3) In terms of the funding provided for the 2020 Northern Development Internship Program, it is one of the Trust’s annual programs that has been finalized and approved by our internal processes. While our timelines have experienced unfortunate delays, the funding is secure and our host communities have all maintained interest and investment in running the program.

Q4) Will I be required to relocate during the pandemic?

A4) Per Q1/A1, the priority in our revised policies is the safety and comfort of our interns and host communities so this answer will vary depending on the specific internship. If the host community and intern believe that the relocation can be done safely while observing physical distancing measures, then we would consider it a viable option whenever both parties are comfortable moving forward. In the event that the host community is in favour of a relocation but the intern is not, the host community will defer the start date to a mutually agreeable time and framework in priority of safety and comfort.

Q5) Is Municipal Administrators Training Institute (MATI) happening this year?

A5) For our Local Government and First Nations Government interns, the attendance and completion of MATI is a compulsory piece of the Northern Development Internship. In light of the ongoing pandemic, MATI has been postponed for 2020 pending the restrictions imposed by the provincial government. Should the restrictions be lifted, or an online module be proposed, interns will be notified and asked to attend and complete. In the interim, alternative professional development opportunities can be pursued and funded if they are agreed upon by the mentor and intern.

Q6) I’m beginning the process of relocating – where do I start?

A6) Relocating to a city one does not currently live in is one of the challenges of the internship program and there is no one “right” answer. Our first recommendation is to begin with a conversation with the host community’s mentor to ask if they have any leads on rental units within the community or within the office. Beyond that, most communities have active Facebook rental groups, as well as Kijiji and Craigslist listings. A tip that has been used to great effect in the is sharing a short “in search of” post:

“Young professional seeking 1 bedroom accommodation
Hi there, I’m looking to move to X community for X date. I’m a quiet, young professional relocating from X community for a new job with the local government. I enjoy X, Y, Z activities and am looking for something reasonably priced and centrally located – I have stable employment and good references.”

Often, landlords will reach out with their property descriptions that may not yet be listed if they feel like they have found a stable and reliable occupant without promoting their rental.

One additional tip is to consider lining up a virtual Facetime or Hangouts tour with the landlord to chat and get to see the place in full. Providing the mentor, or a member of the office is comfortable with it, an option may be asking someone who currently lives in the community to do a drive-by or a tour on as well, to ensure the place is well kept and the photos are up to date and reflect the current state of the property.

Beyond the above-mentioned tips, please feel free to contact the Internships Program Manager for additional tips and assistance. There are many different types of real estate and rental scams out there so be wary and if something seems off, please contact the Trust.