Overview

The Municipal Internship Program is a partnership between participating municipal organizations and Alberta Municipal Affairs. The program helps bring recent post-secondary graduates into the municipal field through one of three career streams – municipal administration, finance/accounting, and land use planning. Interns receive hands-on, real-life work experience professional development, and mentoring.

Hosting an intern is a significant commitment requiring municipal financial and staff resources, time, and a focus on learning and development. The program is not considered a temporary employment opportunity, but rather an opportunity to help build the administrative capacity of local governments in Alberta.

Since the Municipal Internship Program was reintroduced in 2002, nearly 300 interns have participated.  Of those, 55% of intern graduates have pursued careers in local government and another 20% have found other public sector careers.

Benefits of hosting an intern

Interns bring knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm that helps to build capacity and rejuvenate the municipal government sector. Interns can bring numerous benefits to a municipality, including:

  • New ideas and perspectives
  • New energy, eagerness, and initiative
  • Willingness to learn
  • Creativity and enthusiasm
  • Strong research skills
  • High computer literacy and knowledge of technology applications
  • Great ambassadors for working in municipal government; in particular, your municipality

Responsibilities of the host municipality

Municipalities have four main responsibilities in fulfilling their role as a host:

Appreciation

The focus of the program is for the intern to gain an understanding and appreciation of municipal government and, depending on the stream of the program, the roles and responsibilities related to the chief administrative officer, finance officer, or planner. Interns are also expected to learn about the relationship between the different departments and functions of the municipality and how each contributes to the municipality as a whole. Interns are not expected to become “experts” in any one area of municipal administration/finance/planning during their internship. Therefore, interns rotate to various functional areas in the organization to help develop a broad understanding of municipal government.

Workplan

The Internship Workplan (PDF, 367 KB) provides a framework of activities and experiences to assist hosts and interns with ensuring a wide variety of work experience. The Workplan was created by municipal professionals in the field who felt the recommended activities would provide interns a solid introduction to municipal government operations and management. Hosts are expected to implement the Internship Workplan and to supplement it with activities, projects, and experiences unique to their organizations.

Experiential learning

When determining the intern’s activities, it is important to remember that while taking part in specific hands-on activities is an effective method of teaching the intern about municipal operations, it is essential that such hands-on experiences are related back to the overall management perspective. Understanding why things are done and the impact of them on the organization as a whole is valuable for the interns’ learning. Having time to reflect on experiences is as important as the experiences themselves.

Professional development

Interns should be coached and mentored in areas such as building competencies, networking, and career development. They should be encouraged to pursue projects in areas of interest that would also benefit the municipality. Learning and development opportunities can help build capacity and develop networks. Program requirements include attendance at a minimum of one conference and one course for each intern.

Internship streams

  • Administrator Stream

    This stream of the program offers interns a wide range of experiences in a variety of municipal departments over a one-year period (may be extended to two years). The goal is to develop the intern’s knowledge and understanding of multiple areas of municipal administration that can be built upon as the intern’s career progresses beyond the internship.

    Interns in the Administrator stream will rotate through the various departments in their host municipality, learning key aspects of the work that is carried out in each area and how that work supports the municipality overall.

    Responsibilities and activities

    Responsibilities and activities for interns in this role include, but are not limited to:

    • participating in management team meetings
    • presenting to council and/or committees
    • developing bylaws and policies
    • leading and managing projects
    • solving problems that affect the community
    • job shadowing
  • Finance Officer stream

    This stream of the program offers interns hands-on, intensive learning in municipal finance and accounting along with professional development opportunities and a general understanding of municipal government over a one-year period (may be extended to two years). The goal is to provide the intern a strong foundation in municipal finance/accounting while also getting exposure to other municipal departments.

    Finance Officer interns will work in the various areas of the finance/accounting department, with the goal of learning key aspects of the department and how it interacts with the rest of the municipality.

    Responsibilities and activities

    Responsibilities and activities for interns in this role include, but are not limited to:

    • budget forecasting and discussions with council and management
    • preparing payroll
    • processing accounts payable and accounts receivable
    • producing financial reports
    • preparing financial records for audit and for borrowing
    • supporting procurement initiatives

    Interns in this stream may pursue their Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation during their internship. Host municipalities may be required to offer work and responsibilities that meet’s CPA’s Experience Verification Route requirements.

  • Land Use Planner stream

    This stream of the program offers interns with a specific interest in land use planning the opportunity to gain a variety of planning experiences over a 2-year period. The goal is to provide a strong foundation in major planning areas in both current and long range planning.

    During the first year of the program, interns are mentored and coached by a senior planner in their host organization. In addition, land use planning interns will also explore some of the key functions of municipal governments outside of the planning area, so they may understand them from a planning perspective. In the second year of the program, interns take on more responsibility and gain further experience through involvement in planning projects and issues in their host organization.

    Responsibilities and activities

    Responsibilities and activities for interns in this role can include, but are not limited to:

    • reviewing and amending the municipality's existing land use bylaw
    • reviewing existing or developing new statutory plans including, municipal development plans and area structure plans
    • reviewing development and/or subdivision applications
    • planning and conducting community consultations or engagements for development proposals
    • conducting subdivision and development appeal board hearings
    • enforcing stop orders and other compliance mechanisms

    Land use planner interns can work toward completion of the Canadian Institute of Planners/Alberta Professional Planners Institute (CIP/APPI) Logbook requirements for professional accreditation.

Eligibility

Administrator Stream

  • The municipality has a population between 700 and 75,000
  • A strong council-administration relationship exists and there is strong commitment from both groups to have an intern
  • There is an ability to provide training in a wide range of municipal functions
  • The CAO or a senior manager agrees to serve as the intern supervisor for the duration of the program
  • There is an organizational commitment to the Internship Program’s vision and goals
  • There is an interest in sharing knowledge and experiences with the intern and working with the intern to complete the Intern Workplan, and
  • A sufficient commitment of resources, both financial and staff, has been made

Finance Officer Stream

  • The municipality has a population between 2,500 and 125,000
  • A strong council-administration relationship exists and there is strong commitment from both groups to have an intern
  • There is an ability to provide in-depth training in municipal finance and an exposure to other departments within the municipality
  • A senior level finance officer agrees to serve as the intern supervisor for the duration of the program
  • There is an organizational commitment to the Internship Program’s vision and goals
  • There is an interest in sharing knowledge and experiences with the intern and working with the intern to complete the Intern Workplan, and
  • A sufficient commitment of resources, both financial and staff, has been made

Land Use Planner Stream

  • The municipality has a population between 5,000 and 125,000
  • The planning service agency (which must be municipally-owned) works with one to three of its member municipalities to provide first-hand planning experience
  • The host has a planning department that undertakes in-house the full range of planning services outlined in the Intern Workplan or partner with a neighbouring municipality to be able to do so
  • A senior planner agrees to serve as the intern supervisor for the duration for the program
  • The intern has access to a planner with an APPI designation to be able to sign off the intern’s APPI Logbook requirements
  • A strong relationship exists between the administration and planning department and there is strong commitment from CAO/Director, council, board, and management team to have an intern
  • There is an organizational commitment to the Internship Program’s vision and goals;
  • There is an interest in sharing knowledge and experiences with the intern and working with the intern to complete the Workplan, and
  • A sufficient commitment of resources, both financial and staff, has been made

When thinking about whether your organization would like to host an intern, it is important to consider the following:

  • Does your organization have the capacity to train an intern in all areas included in the Intern Workplan, or can you partner with a neighbouring organization to do so?
  • Are you able to commit the time and resources (both funding and staff) to support an intern?
  • What can your organization offer to an intern that will assist them in pursuing a career in local government?
  • Is a senior manager available to supervise an intern and what professional, supervisory and mentoring skills does this person possess that will help him/her be an effective supervisor?
  • Is there support from both the council and administration for hosting an intern?

Municipal partnerships and co-hosts

You are welcome to partner with another municipality to host an intern, either formally or informally.

Formal partnerships

In a formal partnership, the municipalities indicate which municipality will be the Managing Partner for the internship. The Managing Partner:

  • must have a population that falls within the population range specified for the program
  • will be responsible for all administrative requirements of the program and ensuring the intern completes the Internship Workplan
  • submits the grant application on behalf of the partnering municipalities. The application should clearly outline what role each of the municipalities would play in hosting an intern

Planning service agencies are required to partner with one to three member municipalities to provide the intern with first hand planning experience and exposure to other municipal departments. It is important for land use planner interns to the opportunity to learn about the broader municipal operations to help them understand where the work of the planning department intersects with that of other departments.

Partnerships may allow municipalities who receive their planning services from an intermunicipal planning service agency the opportunity to partner with that agency to provide an intern with direct municipal planning experience.

Informal partnerships

Informal partnerships are also a valuable arrangement for interns. If your municipality is selected to host an intern, you are encouraged to make arrangements for your intern to spend time in other municipalities in your area to gain a broader understanding of local government. You do not need to submit a joint proposal with another municipality for an informal partnership; however, your plans could be outlined in your application.

Application process and timeline

Application process

The Municipal Internship Program is made possible through grants from the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) program.

Apply to Host in the 2020 Program:

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Host recruitment timeline

There are several important dates that prospective host municipalities and organizations should keep in mind. Please note that Alberta Municipal Affairs may change any of the dates listed should it become necessary to do so, and will update this page as appropriate.

  • August 2019

    Applications open for municipalities and other eligible organization to apply for the 2020 Municipal Internship Program. Applications are made through the Municipal Internship component of the ACP grant program.

  • October 1, 2019

    Deadline for host applications for the 2020 Municipal Internship Program.

  • October 2019

    Applications are reviewed and evaluated by ministry staff.

  • November 2019

    Host municipalities and organizations selected and approved by Minister.

  • December 2019

    Intern recruitment begins. Applications accepted between December 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020.

Contact

To connect with the Internship and Education team at Alberta Municipal Affairs:

Phone: 780-427-2225
Email: amainternship@gov.ab.ca

Address:

Municipal Internship Program
Alberta Municipal Affairs
17th Floor, Commerce Place
10155 102 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4