By Benita Aalto
When First Nation business student Richard Cochrane received a scholarship through Indspire, he was happy just to get the funding he needed to help complete the last year of his degree.
To his surprise, however, the bank that sponsored the scholarship also contacted him directly, and invited him to speak with its Human Resources rep about internships at the bank.
“That conversation turned into the HR person saying, ‘Let’s do full-time instead,’” recalls Richard, who was hired to join the wholesale banking group, turning that introductory meeting into his first job.
The bank awarded him the scholarship through Indspire, the largest funder of Indigenous education outside the federal government. Richard had originally thought of the bank as a sponsor’s name on a scholarship, not as a potential employer.
Does turning a scholarship into a job sound too good – and too lucky – to be true? You might be surprised to learn that Richard’s experience is not unique. Many corporations see giving scholarships as a way of identifying and cultivating a potential employee, which is all the more reason for students to do their research and apply for a variety of scholarships. (See sidebar for more information on Indspire scholarships.)
Once your scholarship has netted you an internship, Richard has some advice for students looking to capitalize on the opportunity to work with their scholarship funder.
1. Assemble a team of mentors.
Find mentors in your office, the broader company, upper management and externally.
“The key is to find a diverse range of mentors who will offer different perspectives,” says Richard. “They will help you navigate through your daily problems and provide advice in a number of areas, for example: how to navigate office politics, write reports, make presentations, or plan your future.”
Don’t walk down the career path alone!
2. Make friends with someone in HR.
The Human Resources department can offer you lots of opportunities – and not just available positions within the company. For example, you can volunteer on behalf of the organization, attending events, speaking at local fundraisers, and making connections with the company’s community partners.
3. Create your brand early.
Develop an elevator pitch that tells people what you’re all about. “You could be known as the person who’s great at closing sales or building relationships,” says Richard. “Whatever it is that you do, do it well and make sure that people know it.”
Apply now! Scholarships and bursaries for
Indigenous post-secondary students
Visit indspire.ca/apply for information and to apply online.
Hurry! The next deadline is Nov.1.
Attention teachers, college grads and new teachers:
upcoming networking and learning opportunity
Are you an educator concerned about the needs of your Indigenous students? Whether you’re finishing your teaching education, just starting your career, or are an experienced educator, come meet your peers from across the country at the National Gathering for Indigenous Education on November 20 to 22 in Toronto, ON.
The conference is budget-friendly and features innovative practices, helpful workshops, a trade show, complimentary meals and much more!
Go to indspire.ca/national-gathering for registration info.