Interns prove to be invaluable members of their communities

June 29, 2016

Emily Kaehn, Granisle


Moving to a small community, for some, can be a daunting social challenge. This is especially true if you are a young adult leaving a university environment where you have been surrounded by your peers, to move to a community of little more than 300 people where the average age is 63.

When Northern Development intern Emily Kaehn came to the Village of Granisle, she quickly became a central member of their community. “She was a breath of fresh air,” says Sharon Smith, CAO of the Village of Granisle.

“The thing about Emily that is so wonderful is that when she came here, she was so open. It wasn’t even just in the office. She went out and wanted to learn what the community and the people who live here are all about. Her ability to interact and connect with everyone was absolutely amazing,” says Smith.

Not only is she Granisle’s assistant fire chief, but Emily has found a social place within the community’s aging population. “The seniors in the community have adopted her as their honourary granddaughter,” says Brenda Andersson, CFO of the Village of Granisle. Emily regularly attends meetings for the senior’s association, has brought in senior’s recreational programming such as armchair yoga, and is even a member of the senior’s curling team.

The youthful energy and perspective she brings to the community translates to her role in the municipal office as well. “She brings a different perspective to the table. This energy and insight invigorates the team,” says Andersson.

Through Emily’s internship, she has gained experience in every element of local government management. Working in close quarters with her colleagues has provided countless opportunities to observe and learn. “Whatever we’re working on, she has been exposed to it,” says Smith. “A small community can introduce the flow, timing and rhythm of municipal government that you just won’t get in a larger centre. It’s a team effort and she is soaking it all in like a sponge.”

Emily’s internship ended in April and Emily has been kept on as an Economic Development and Administrative Coordinator until the end of December. The Granisle team is invested in keeping her in the community. “We will do everything in our power to keep her on-board.”

Tyla Pennell, Taylor

Tyla Pennell-crop

When Taylor, B.C. began looking for an intern, they were struggling with challenges that face every small community.

“It’s easy for small municipalities to be overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done,” says Charlette McLeod, CAO of the District of Taylor. It is easy to hesitate before taking on an intern due to the time requirements to coach, but the District of Taylor found that the investment was worth it.

Tyla Pennell began as an intern in Taylor in 2013, and immediately took on roles that one wouldn’t expect of an intern. She took on management duties in every department in the District, assisting with legislative and council tasks, financial management, land use planning, public works and even help to resolve confidential human resource issues.

Shortly after arriving, Tyla became an asset for the community as well. She began volunteering with the fire department, and contributed to many local fundraising and community building initiatives. “She is all-in for the community. You can tell it’s really important to her,” says McLeod.

After her internship, Tyla went on to a temporary position, and is now in a permanent role as the Corporate Officer and Deputy Finance Officer with the District. “If you have a good work ethic and a willingness to learn, you can do anything in the North,” says McLeod. “Tyla is definitely a shining star. She is eager to learn and takes such pride in her work. The internship program has worked out so well for us. I don’t even know where we’d be without Tyla.”