Paula Barrett, a professor in Conestoga’s Public Relations program, is engaged in a real-life version of the recently released Hollywood movie The Intern this year, working with the students (now graduates) she once mentored, as she works a series of senior PR internships with her grads as her guides.
Conestoga College Public Relations professor Paula Barrett is spending the school year interning for the graduates she once taught.
“PR has changed dramatically since my teaching career began twelve years ago,” Barrett said. “Although I’ve remained active in the profession since my arrival at Conestoga, I was looking for an immersive experience that would allow me to refresh my skills and gain first-hand knowledge of current industry best practices that I can bring back to the classroom to keep our curriculum fresh.”
#myturntointern inverts the typical teacher-student dynamic, with Barrett as the learner and grads as the teachers. She’s enthusiastic about the flip: “Teaching is also about learning, and our dynamic in the PR program is highly collaborative,” Barrett said. “Just as we used to brainstorm and create together as teacher and student in the classroom, we’ll now bring that same combined energy to our workplace projects.”
Her first internship, under the mentorship of Maggie Hall, communications manager with Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies and a 2007 PR graduate, is already underway, with several other appointments planned for the coming months.
In total, Barrett hopes to complete six or more internships during her eight-month professional development leave, then apply the knowledge and skills she gains through the experience to refresh program curriculum based on the real world challenges today’s graduates face.
Barrett’s novel approach to professional development has generated local media coverage, including a story in the Waterloo Chronicle on September 29 and an interview with Eric Drozd on 570 News on September 23.