Alumni Profiles

CMU graduates chosen for prestigious Manitoba Legislature internships

CMU graduates chosen for prestigious Manitoba Legislature internships

Two Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) graduates have been accepted into the highly competitive Manitoba Legislature Internship Program. Kyla Willms and Nicholas Harder, both graduates of 2023, will be a part of the prestigious 10-month internship from September to June.

Open only to six Manitoban students each year, the program provides opportunities for recent university graduates to experience firsthand the legislative process within the Manitoba legislature.

"I'm excited to get wrapped up in the whole energy of the place," says Harder. "I'm excited to do this because interns do a lot of different things in a day, and it's very important to me that I have a job that has a variety of tasks."

Interns are assigned to work with the incumbent or opposition caucuses, where they will participate in various government operations, seminars, and many other legislative processes.

Willms is also excited to embrace the consistency of a high-paced full-time position. "I've heard that sometimes the interns will get to the legislature and have a half-hour to write something for the MLAs to say [during legislative assembly]," she says. "I think it'll be a challenge, but also a good challenge."

Kayla Willms
Kyla Willms

Regardless of the swirling nerves, Harder and Willms say they feel prepared for the role.

Harder spent his practicum with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba Office, which he says helped him develop skills that will transfer to the internship program. "During [my practicum], I started picking up what other community activists and community researchers are doing and what the socio-political ecosystem is like in Manitoba."

In conversation, Harder and Willms were vocal about their initial skepticism about the political process. As political studies majors, they spent years analyzing, evaluating, and often judging the form and function of government. However, as they thought more about their desire to make a difference in their community, they became increasingly drawn to the internship program.

Nicholas HarderNicholas Harder

In Willm's instance, an independent study at CMU led her to conceptualize and draw political cartoons satirizing government officials. "In a way, I was doing critique from the public's view, so it'll be interesting to see the process from the inside," says Willms. "It'll be nice to feel like I'm a part of this large process. And thankfully, I wasn't drawing any MLAs," jokes Willms.

Harder and Willms aren't the first CMU graduates to participate in the program. Hannah Drudge (CMU '22) was among the select few chosen this past year. "Getting to be a part of the important work done in the Legislature was amazing," says Drudge. "I really felt like I was contributing—in a very small way, of course—to the democratic process."

She says that between the policy, research, communications, outreach, and legislative business, she was able to try on different vocational hats and fully explore, in-depth, what she learned through her time at CMU.

Nathan Dueck (CMU '21)—currently in law school and went through the internship just a few short years ago—says, "CMU prepared me by setting consistently high expectations for my writing throughout my degree. As a result, I went into the internship with a much more refined ability to write well and quickly than I would have had, I suspect, had I undertaken my undergraduate studies at any other school in the province."

"I really enjoyed the stress of [the program] and am now better equipped to work in high-pressure environments going forward. It was also really fun to hear MLAs deliver speeches that you played a role in drafting," says Dueck.

Harder says he's excited to see the tangible evidence of his hard work. He says, "It's cool to think that all these skills you build up can actually be used for something, to propel movements forward, create certain policies, and make a difference in people's lives. I'm excited to see the impact."

Jonathan Daman (CMU '17), a graduate of CMU's Redekop School of Business, was also selected to participate in the Manitoba Legislature Internship Program in 2018/19.

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