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New AudioMag: Sharon McAuley on Magazines Canada’s Ontario Paid Internship Program

Photograph of Sharon McAuley
Sharon McAuley

With longstanding pressures on the publishing industry and journalism generally, finding and fostering new talent can be a challenge. To help remedy some of these challenges, Magazines Canada has launched a new National Paid Internship Program that builds on lessons learned from a 2018 pilot program in Ontario.

In this episode of AudioMag, we talk with program manager Sharon McAuley about the Ontario pilot program, which was funded by Ontario Creates. The pilot focused on creating internship opportunities for business media publications, as many of these publishers faced challenges attracting talent due to limited awareness about their titles.

In contrast to previous internships, which were traditionally open to students enrolled in post-secondary programs, publishers were open to draw on a wider variety of potential sources for interns.

“The project was to provide publishers with the support that they needed to allow them to bring on a paid intern and benefit from having this new perspective and digital talent and also to provide on-the-job experience to people looking to find a way into the magazine industry,” says McAuley.

The program provided ten publishers with up to 50% of the wages and payroll costs that went towards hiring an intern for a four-month period. It also provided support in publicizing the positions, templates for job descriptions and employment contracts.

“As far as the interns, we really worked hard to have a very broad eligibility. The idea was not students only, but giving the latitude to publishers to find the people who had the right skills, aptitude and interest in their publications,” says McAuley. “The eligibility criteria fell into people with a high school diploma, or students currently enrolled in post-secondary institutions or graduates in the past five years from a post-secondary institution and people who had a career history and were interested in changing careers.”

“When I spoke to educational institutions they typically were thinking about newspapers, and second to that consumer publications, and B2B weren’t even on the radar. So part of the goal of this program was to raise the awareness about the variety of magazines that are out there and the opportunities that they represent,” says McAuley.

Content creation was the main focus of the work assigned to interns, but two of the positions involved advertising sales positions, which can be a challenging role to fill, particularly for business media publishers.

“At a junior level you’re essentially trying to bring someone along and provide them with the sales skill-set as well as knowledge of the product,” explained McAuley. “And if someone has experience in sales then they are in demand in many other areas as well. It’s a hard job and not that many people make it their first choice.”

Listen to the full AudioMag episode with Sharon McAuley.

MagNet 2019: April 24–25

Sharon will also be speaking at MagNet: Canada’s Magazine Conference on April 25 about The Next Gen of Talent: Insights from Magazines Canada’s Paid Internship Pilot. Register for this and other great sessions and join us at MagNet from April 24–25 in downtown Toronto.

Find more episodes of AudioMag in our resource centre. Subscribe to our Cover Lines biweekly industry newsletter for magazine media, and we’ll let you know when we release a new episode.

AudioMag is produced by Tina Pittaway, an award-winning independent writer and broadcaster. Tina has been a contributor to CBC Radio and Television for more than 20 years. Her radio documentaries have been recognized with honours from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, the New York Festivals, Amnesty International and the Gabriel Awards. Visit Tina online at tinapittaway.com to learn more about her work.

This project was funded by Ontario Creates, Canadian Council of the Arts and Canadian Heritage

AudioMag is made possible with the support of Ontario Creates.

Magazines Canada acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as the Canada Council, for this project.

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