‘Experiential learning will increasingly become a critical pedagogical component of the student’s experience here at UBishops. Providing opportunities for students to work in their field of study is invaluable for them to get hands on experience and apply their learning. Incorporating and devising experiential opportunities for students of all levels and in all fields is an exciting challenge.’
–Dr. Claire Grogan, Associate VP Academic.
Justine Trempe is a fourth-year student doing her English B.A. with an Honours in Film and a minor in Literature. This summer, she is interning at the Communications Office of Bishop’s University.
She arrived at Bishop’s after taking a gap year between CEGEP and university. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or where to go, but I knew I wanted to go study in English, which I had never done before. So, I took some time to figure out my options … I think I found Bishop’s online, I visited the campus and I thought, ‘this is it.”
Justine rapidly realized she had made the right decision, both in her choice of school and of program. “It’s so flexible, so I was able to explore all my different interests and figure out what got me excited, what I could see myself doing for the rest of my life … and all the teachers are just so passionate it would be hard to not become passionate too. I found interests I didn’t know I had. More than books and films, I realized I loved languages and their history, communications and even marketing, to a certain extent! But I’m mostly fascinated by the role of fiction in general, sociologically and psychologically … why do we need it, how it shapes our reality, how it helps people process information, and emotion.”
Since her arrival in the BUbble in 2018, Justine got involved in the community in various ways. She volunteered as a photographer for the CASA Fashion Show in 2019, did essay-vetting for the Hearts & Soul Conference in 2020, which was cancelled because of COVID, and worked for the Campus as Copy Editor during the year 2020-2021.
Now the Communications Office intern for summer 2021, Justine’s tasks vary each day, which demands a lot of flexibility. “I do a little bit of everything in the office, so it’s writing blog articles, data entry, taking pictures of events or various things, scheduling posts on social media, filming and video editing… It changes every day and I’m learning so much. Right now, I’m working on developing a strategy to post on TikTok more regularly, engage current and future students more and gain a good following on it since it’s a rapidly growing platform. It’s really fun work, I get to meet a lot of people involved in the community and be creative.” She laughs before mentioning that she recently had to help make a tutu for the Gaiter mascot. “But that’s not always that memorable! The biggest challenge with the internship is actually to make it sustainable for the people working here all year round; I have to create more content, so they have a cushion to fall back on when me and the other intern move on.”
The internship turned out to be the perfect summer job, allowing her to develop her skills while offering fun challenges. But she did not originally plan to work in an office this summer. “I first saw the posting on the Bishop’s website … but I was still looking at different options, something that could allow me to work outside this summer. It’s my last year of university, so I wanted to be able to enjoy my summer too. Then Cassie [MacDonnell], who’s the next editor-in-chief of the Campus, sent [the posting] to all the staff, and I thought ‘why not?’ The job literally demanded all the skills I had, from doing photography and video editing, which I had done studying cinema in CEGEP, bilingualism, and good writing skills, which I obviously had as an English student. So, I applied, … and I got it … It’s funny, because I was almost surprised. It’s something I’ve noticed here: female students are expecting rejection and are so grateful for what they can accomplish, while men, on the contrary, are much more humbled by their work. But the thing is, opportunities always pop up at Bishop’s, and we need women, people of colour, trans and nonbinary people to take them: the question is simply to listen and not be too scared to stand out.”
Although it is a fun job, mostly spent with lively debates and fun anecdotes, Justine explains that it highly contributes to her personal and professional development. “It gives me so much space and independence, so I can always bring my own ideas to the table and work on projects I started from the ground up.” She explains that this type of hands-on experience allowing individuality is a rare opportunity. “Working in retail, restauration or even call centers, I always had to conform and follow someone else’s vision, and, while sometimes that’s fine, I like having the option to see what I can do, what I can bring to the table. And when people like it, and it works, it’s so rewarding. Sonia is incredibly supportive and always ready to brainstorm ideas. Everyone in the office gets involved … it just makes me more confident in my abilities so that I’ll know what I’m actually worth once I go into the workforce.”
Working on campus all summer, she can appreciate the place as it empties and says that she has found a home here in Sherbrooke. “I’m from a small town in the Laurentians mostly surrounded by fields and trees, except it’s been growing condos lately. The sense of community is getting lost slowly by slowly, it’s changed a lot, and not in a good way. I love being in Lennoxville because that’s not happening here. I can go for a run in the trails and everyone I see will tell me good morning! My roommate became friends with the guys at Subway, just by going way too often. We also became great friends with our neighbour, and I love how everybody seem to know one another from somewhere.”
Trempe also explains that, although she loves snow and prefers cold to heat, there’s something special about Lennoxville in the summer. “There’s so much to do here, between going for a run and reading in the park, I love playing soccer with friends or just having a picnic. Me and my friend schedule art dates and just draw or paint together outside with some snacks. I’ve also recently become quite addicted to slacklining, and I practice every chance I get.” She adds that if she ever gets bored of trees, or if it rains, she can easily go to downtown Sherbrooke or to Magog for a movie, a hot meal and a change of pace.
Justine still has a year left at Bishop’s and the future remains unsure for her. “I like to stay open to different options, but I’d really love to go into publishing. I know I’d also be happy doing copywriting or maybe working in film, but the act of bringing a novel to life just makes me excited, it’s like magic. It’s helping in the creation of something that may come to mean so much to so many people and change a few lives, just as some books changed mine.” She adds that, although she is keen on publishing, she’ll take it one day at a time. “So much has happened in the past few years … my apartment burned down, and I had to rebuild myself, tried taking more care of my health, and COVID happened … I’ve learned not to take anything for granted, so as long as I’m healthy and doing something I like, I’m incredibly grateful.”