“Bombardier has been an amazing partner,” says Anna Sommer, BFA 94, MBA 16, program coordinator at the Institute for Co-operative Education. Sommer created the WIE-CLE template for Bombardier. “They wanted to do something much more concrete and this was a great way to start — as far as we know this is a completely unique program.”
Jade Dagenais, BComm 20, the Women in Engineering internship program lead at Bombardier, agrees. “This is a very special program because of the mentorship and networking aspects,” she says. “Our interns have their work supervisors, but we also match each of them with their own mentor. Through roundtable sessions, interns get to connect and speak with various people in engineering.”
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, all internship activities are being held virtually. Participants are given full access to Microsoft Teams, including private channels for interns and mentors to network and discuss the program. Interns additionally have access to the LinkedIn Learning platform to benefit from a wide variety of courses and workshops.
While the situation may not be ideal, Dagenais says every effort is being taken to give the interns a rich and fulfilling experience. “Our program is new, so it is still flexible,” says Dagenais. “Our team is very open and we’re giving the interns the opportunity to tell us what they want from the program. If they want to meet the vice-president of Engineering, no problem, I’ll make it happen.”
For their final project, the interns were tasked with identifying systemic barriers for women in engineering at Bombardier.
“We asked our interns to look for any barriers they may have experienced or seen during their internships and how they impact the role of women in engineering,” says Dagenais. “We also wanted to know what they recommend be done to ameliorate or completely remove these barriers.” The interns presented their final project to senior management on December 8, 2020. Company employees attended the virtual presentation as observers, and recordings of the event were shared internally to raise awareness and encourage others to join the program as mentors.