Overview

The Municipal Internship Program is Canada’s longest running program of its kind. The program is a partnership between participating municipal organizations and Alberta Municipal Affairs. It provides support to municipalities and planning service agencies to build capacity in the municipal sector by developing recent post-secondary graduates to become future leaders in municipal government.

Through hands-on, real life work experience, professional development and mentoring over an 18-month period, interns receive a solid foundation for careers in municipal administration, finance or land use planning. Since the Municipal Internship Program was reintroduced in 2002, 350 interns and more than 100 municipalities have participated. More than two-thirds of these program alumni continue to work in Alberta’s municipal sector and in other public sector careers.

Eligibility

Municipalities and planning services agencies interested in hosting an intern should consider the following before applying:

  • Ensure your organization has the capacity to train an intern in all areas including those listed in the Intern Workplan, or partner with a neighbouring organization to do so.
  • Ensure you can commit the time and resources (both funding and staff) to support an intern.
  • Assist an intern in pursuing a career in local government.
  • Senior management has professional, supervisory, and mentoring skills to be an effective supervisor for the intern.
  • Have a qualified backup supervisor for the intern in case the primary supervisor is not available (for example: vacation or leaves the organization).
  • Full support from council and administration for hosting an intern.

Host municipalities and planning service agencies are not permitted to hire an existing or recent employee as their municipal intern. The only exceptions are if the employee worked as a summer student, casual employee (employee on a call-in basis or irregular hours), or a co-op student. All intern candidates must submit an application package and be shortlisted to be available as an intern, including those covered by these exceptions.

  • Administrator

    • 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 host 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 goals.
    • There is an interest in sharing knowledge and experiences with the intern and working with the intern to complete the Intern Workplan.
    • A sufficient commitment of resources, both financial and staff time.
  • Finance Officer

    • 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 host an intern.
    • There is an ability to provide in-depth training in municipal finance and 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 goals.
    • There is an interest in sharing knowledge and experiences with the intern and working with the intern to complete the Intern Workplan.
    • A sufficient commitment of resources, both financial and staff time.
  • Land Use Planner

    • The municipality has a population between 5,000 and 125,000.
    • The planning service agency (which must be municipally-owned) or growth management board works with one to three of its member municipalities to provide first-hand planning experience in a municipality.
    • The host has a planning department that undertakes in-house the full range of planning services outlined in the Intern Workplan or partners 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 RPP designation to be able to sign off the intern’s Logbook requirements for accreditation.
    • A strong relationship exists between the administration and planning department and there is strong commitment from CAO/Director, council, board, and management team to host an intern.
    • There is an organizational commitment to the internship program’s goals.
    • There is an interest in sharing knowledge and experiences with the intern and working with the intern to complete the Intern Workplan.
    • A sufficient commitment of resources, both financial and staff.
  • Municipal partnerships and co-hosts

    Municipalities can partner with one or more other municipalities 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 and growth management boards are required to partner with one to 2 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 have the opportunity to learn about the broader municipal operations to help them understand where the work of the planning department intersects with 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 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.

Benefits

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

  • new ideas and perspectives
  • energy, eagerness, and initiative
  • willingness to learn and excel in the profession
  • creative approaches to challenges
  • strong research and communication skills
  • high computer literacy and knowledge of technology applications
  • great ambassadors for working in municipal government

Roles and responsibilities

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

Municipalities and planning services agencies have 4 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, and 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 recommended activities and experiences to assist hosts and interns with planning a variety of work experiences across departments and functional areas of the municipality. The recommended activities and experiences were gathered from municipal professionals in the field who felt these would provide interns a solid introduction to municipal government operations and management. Hosts are expected to implement the Internship Workplan and supplement it with activities, projects, and experiences unique to their organizations.

  • Experiential learning

    Interns appreciate and benefit from having opportunities to have hands-on work, participate in projects, and contribute their skills to assist their host organizations to achieve priorities and meet community needs. 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 the what and how of municipal operations, it is also essential interns have the opportunity to learn why things are done and the impact of them on the organization as a whole. Having time to reflect on experiences through conversations with the supervisor, other staff members, and mentors is as important as the work experiences.

  • Professional development

    Interns should be coached and mentored in areas such as building competencies, networking, and career development. They should be encouraged to pursue learning and development in areas of interest that would also benefit the municipality. Learning and development opportunities can help build capacity and develop networks. Interns are required to attend a minimum of either the Alberta Municipalities convention or the Rural Municipalities of Alberta convention, one other professional/municipal association conference, and one education course/workshop.

Internship streams

Learn about the different streams and how interns provide service to your municipality or planning agency as well as gain valuable experience.

  • Administrator stream

    This stream of the program offers interns a wide range of experiences in municipal policy, management and operations over an 18-month period. The goal is to gain 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 departments in their host municipality, learning key aspects of the work carried out in each area and how work supports the municipality overall.

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

    • participate in management team and stakeholder meetings
    • develop request for decision packages and presenting to council and/or committees
    • develop and review bylaws and policies
    • conduct research on issues and topics in support of bylaws, policies, and other projects
    • support the municipality’s communication with the community and stakeholders
    • lead and manage projects
    • support public engagement initiatives
    • participate in job shadowing activities
  • Finance Officer stream

    This stream of the program offers participants hands-on, intensive learning in municipal finance and accounting, along with professional development opportunities and a general understanding of municipal government. The goal is to provide a strong foundation in municipal finance while also providing exposure to key departments within the municipality during an 18-month period.

    Finance officer interns work primarily in the finance department, with the goal of learning key aspects of the finance department and how finance interacts with the rest of the municipality.  Interns will also have the opportunity to experience other areas of the municipality to understand the financial priorities and requirements of these departments.

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

    • prepare budget forecast and participate in discussions with council and management
    • prepare payroll
    • process accounts payable and accounts receivable
    • produce financial reports
    • prepare financial records for audit and for borrowing
    • lead or support implementation of asset management systems and practices
    • support procurement initiatives

    Graduates looking to obtain their Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation are welcome to apply. Host municipalities can offer experience verification placements and financial support for education modules to help interns achieve their CPA designation.

  • Land Use Planner stream

    This stream of the program offers participants with a specific interest in land use planning the opportunity to gain a variety of planning experiences over an 18-month period. The goal is to provide a strong foundation in both current and long-range planning. Interns in this stream will focus on building skills and knowledge in planning and development.

    Land use planner interns work primarily in the planning department, with the goal of learning key aspects of the planning and development functions and how planning interacts with the rest of the municipality. Planning interns have the opportunity to gain experience through involvement in a variety of planning projects in their host organization.

    Interns in this stream focus on developing competency as a land use planner, becoming familiar with other key departments and functional areas in the municipality, participating in a wide variety of tasks and projects, and exploring potential areas of specialization in the planning field.

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

    • review and amend the municipality's land use bylaw
    • review existing or develop new statutory plans, including municipal development plans and area structure plans
    • review development and/or subdivision applications
    • plan and conduct community consultations or engagements for development proposals
    • participate in subdivision and development appeal board hearings
    • enforce stop orders and other compliance mechanisms

    Interns in this stream may pursue their Registered Professional Planner designation during their internship. Host organizations may be required to offer work and responsibilities to meet the logbook requirements for the Professional Standards Boards for the Planning Profession in Canada.

Funding and support

We provide funding to municipalities and planning service agencies to recruit, train and develop new and recent graduates as municipal interns who may pursue careers in municipal administration, finance or land-use planning.

Host organizations are supported by a grant from the Alberta Community Partnership program to assist with the costs of hosting an intern. For the 2023 Municipal Internship Program, the funding for each host municipality is $60,000, which is allocated as follows:

  • $53,000 for intern compensation (salary, benefits and payroll deductions)
  • $7,000 for expenses which includes recruitment, relocation, professional development, safety equipment, association membership fees, electronic equipment and travel costs for supervisors to attend in-person internship workshops.

Read the Alberta Community Partnership Program Guidelines for details on applying for the grant.

Municipalities are expected to financially contribute to the cost of hosting an intern through top-ups to intern compensation and/or contributions to expenses for the intern.

In addition to funding, we provide extensive recruitment, training, coaching and mentorship support to interns and supervisors.

Application process

To host an intern in the Municipal Internship Program, a municipality or planning agency must be a successful recipient of a grant from the Municipal Internship component of the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) program.

You will find information on eligibility, grant funding, grant requirements and other grant-related information for the Municipal Internship Program under the 2022-23 ACP guidelines.

Apply to host in the 2023 program

All applications to the Municipal Internship component of the ACP must be submitted through the ACP Online (ACPO) found inside the MAConnect Portal. In most municipalities, authorized users of ACPO include the chief administrative officer, finance staff and grant coordinators.

If assistance is required to access the MAConnect Portal and ACPO, please email [email protected] or call 780-644-2413 (toll-free in Alberta by dialling 310-0000).

Host recruitment timeline

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

The following timelines are subject to change.

  • October 3, 2022

    Deadline for host applications for the 2023 Municipal Internship Program.

  • October 2022

    Applications are reviewed and evaluated by ministry staff.

  • November 2022

    Host municipalities and organizations selected and are approved by Minister.

    Ministry staff will work with the approved host municipalities on intern recruitment materials, including profiles of host municipalities.

  • January 9, 2023

    Intern applications will be accepted between January 9, 2023, and February 15, 2023.

  • February 15 to 22, 2023

    Intern applications are screened by ministry staff to ensure candidates meet program eligibility requirements. Each host organization will receive applications from those candidates who expressed interest in working for that municipality.

  • February 23 to April 7, 2023

    Host municipalities will review intern applications, interview candidates and make a job offer to their top candidate.

  • April 24 to June 2, 2023

    Internships start during this period.

Contact

Connect with the Municipal Internship Program:

Phone: 780-427-2225 and ask for a Training and Internship Advisor
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

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