Q&A with a Colleague: Canadian Directors Nancy Bepple and Pamela Roy
Updated: Nov 6
Global Career Center has been offering internship programs in Canada for decades. I recently spoke with Pamela Roy and Nancy Bepple, our team in Toronto and Vancouver respectively, to find out what makes interning in Canada so special.
First, a little background on our colleagues. Pam holds a PhD in Adult Education from Michigan State University and grew up in the greater Toronto area (and currently resides there). She has also lived in Vancouver. She has worked with us on various programs since 2012 and has worked with students in both Toronto and Vancouver. Nancy holds a Doctorate of Education. She was a co-op student at the University of Victoria, hired co-op students when she worked in the technology sector, and spent 21 years at Thompson Rivers University as a co-op coordinator. Alongside GCC, she has also founded her own business CareerFirsts.
Below are some lightly edited highlights from our conversation.
Why would students choose to intern in Canada?
[Pam]There a couple obvious reasons and some more subtle reasons. Canada is close; especially for Americans so they don’t have to cross an ocean to have a global experience. While many students think Canada is similar to America, once they arrive they truly get a sense of how different it is. Another thing that I think attracts students to Canada is that they can blend in in these multi-cultural cities. They are not an obvious foreigner like they would be in other countries where GCC hosts interns. And lastly, many students have expressed the desire to come to Canada for grad school or for employment so the internship gives them a chance to test it first.
[Nancy] I’m glad you brought up employment Pam. Canadian employers are excited to host interns from outside of Canada. They embrace diversity and have a willingness to take many different types of students.
Vancouver at Sunset
Do the two cities differ as far as internship opportunities for students?
[Pam] Yes, there are different opportunities in each city but I’d really like to emphasize that THE FEEL of the cities is different and both coasts draw a different type of person. If I’m a student I am drawn to Toronto for the fast-paced big city life, the multi-cultural experience, and access to all the typical industries you would find in a big city. I’m drawn to Vancouver because I want to experience mountains, water, and forests and balance my internship experience with the outdoors. There is a breathability in Vancouver that Toronto doesn’t have.
What are some of the top industries in each city?
[Nancy]We do have some unique industries in Western Canada. While I place many students in the Vancouver area some have the flexibility to be anywhere in British Columbia (BC) or Alberta.
For BC some unique industries are Gaming, High Tech/Software, Film and TV Production, Mining Industries, Forestry, Oil and Gas, and Tourism. The greater Vancouver area has a vast array of opportunities in most fields.
For Alberta, we do a lot of placements in Oil and Gas, Finance, Business, and the Cultural Arts.
[Pam] I think students can find their fit pretty easily in Toronto. The film industry is really robust here too as are NGO’s and NPO’s. We’ve also curated some niche placement areas in Research and Innovation. One thing I’ll add about Vancouver is that opportunity for hands-on practical internships might be a little better than Toronto. We've recently placed a student in a woodworking internship and another student in a mining/water study internship.
Student social outings in the Greater Toronto Area
Can you describe the work culture?
[Pam] Each company will have its own culture but in general I find Toronto is very much a business and production (outcome) culture and employers’ expectations and demands on interns is quite high. Vancouver is a bit more relaxed as one would expect on the west coast but still expects high quality work from interns. It seems employers in Vancouver are more intentional about providing ideas and opportunities for students to get involved in the communities outside of work as well.
[Nancy] Like most countries the last 3 years Canada had to shift to 100% remote work but recently employers are emphasizing that they would like workers on site as much as possible. A small and subtle difference at least in western Canada is that we have a 35-hour work week. There are also great biking and transit systems in BC and Alberta so there is a strong commuter culture as well.
The Totems in Stanley Park
What do students do when they are not working?
[Pam and Nancy] Toronto’s got a phenomenal food scene, museums, national monuments, clubs and nightlife and it is really easy to meet people and do things. For the most part, students stay in the city. Some might venture over to Niagara Falls about 90 minutes away.
Vancouver, as you can tell from some of the other answers, is about the outdoors. Bike, hike, visit gardens and nature reserves, go to the mountains, or hang out by the water or on the water. There is certainly night life here but generally the outdoors comes first, nightlife second.
Commuting in Vancouver
Editor’s Note and Further Reading
I’ve been a lot of places in this world. Many, more than once. As I talked with Pam and Nancy and then began writing this article, I realized I have never been to Vancouver. What? Yup, I had to double check my trip book and it is true that I have never gotten to experience The 604, The Big Smoke, Vansterdam, the City of Glass. Sad, I know, but not to worry. I am heading to the CBIE Conference in November conveniently located in, you guessed it, VANCOUVER! Isn’t it funny how the world works? Reach out to me in December and I will give you the real real from my trip. Below are links to additional articles you may find interesting.
Vancouver: is home to the third largest film and television production industry in North America behind LA and NYC.
Toronto: Is it really multi-cultural? (Hint, the answer is yes!)
A GCC student celebrating the Ocra Lego Statue (5,000+ pieces) at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver