As the first graduate student in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University to undertake a Mitacs internship, Marie Horgan is a success story.
Horgan’s research and academic background led her to a Mitacs internship conducting research for advertising campaigns at Rethink Canada, one of the most prominent advertising agencies nationwide.
The Mitacs internship program, founded in 1999, is designed to bring greater numbers of highly educated graduates into the private sector.
Initially meant to support mathematical sciences and other associated disciplines, in 2007 Mitacs expanded their program to include all disciplines. Despite that, only 16 per cent of Mitacs projects are in the humanities and social sciences, and Horgan’s is the first in SFU’s Department of English.
Horgan, who graduated this June with an MA in English, has never doubted her choice of disciplines. “I love what I study so much that I almost can’t put it into words,” she says.
She earned her BA from St. Francis Xavier University in Antogonish, Nova Scotia, spending one semester in Bangor University in Wales before returning home to complete her MA at SFU.
Her interest in literature, especially novels dealing with the American legal system, developed into an interest in law, in which Horgan is considering pursuing further studies.
Horgan’s Mitacs internship has opened up a world of other possibilities. “Everything that I’ve done for Rethink has been grounded in research,” says Horgan. “I’ve worked on a variety of clients including A&W, Coast Capital savings, Shaw Communications, London Drugs, and more.”
Horgan's skills in literary and historical research transferred easily into her jobs at Rethink Canada, where client-focused research enabled a deep understanding of clients’ business needs and goals.
Given the recent trend for humanities alumni with graduate degrees to gravitate towards alt-academic careers, Mitacs offers grad students and other academics invaluable opportunities. Horgan’s experience with Mitacs suggests that there is potential for future partnerships between humanities graduates and the private sector.
"Mitacs gives grad students work opportunities outside of academia so we can see how our skills might transfer into fields or industries we might not have considered,” says Horgan.
Horgan is happy to answer inquiries from fellow grad students who are interested in MITACS, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.