Student Success Story: Lorisa Williams
Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing Lorisa Williams, a UFV BA student and one of our 2020/2021 Arts Worx Internship Professionalism Award winners. Lorisa Williams is a History and Indigenous Studies student hired as a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) intern to help spearhead the launch of a new initiative called the Collaboratorium, which partners with local businesses and organizations to provide WIL internships.
She has been instrumental in building the capacity for the Collaboratorium, and has sourced local organizations and developed relationships that will lead to ongoing sustainable WIL paid internships for future students. Lorisa has been able to incorporate her Indigenous ways of knowing to enrich the Collaboratorium’s projects: she has facilitated online workshops, developed community building outreach skills, created social media and communication plans, and supported several large public events.
Her WIL supervisor, Canada Research Chair and Director of UFV’s Peace and Reconciliation Centre (PARC) Dr. Keith Carlson, recognized the high level of skills Lorisa has contributed to the community and the future growth of the Collaboratorium. Lorisa’s WIL experience is an excellent example for how skills gained through a Liberal Arts education transfer into a workplace context. Congratulations, Lorisa!
In your own words, describe your role with the College of Arts this year.
“Over the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semester I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Keith Thor Carlson on the Collaboratorium. During this time, I had the opportunity to stretch my skillset and learn how to do new things, such as creating a website for the initiative. I was fortunate enough to be part of a great team, and we worked really well together to problem solve and generate new projects.”
Why did you choose to apply for a Arts Worx internship?
“I applied for the internship because I was interested in working with Dr. Carlson in particular, but I also found that the hours were flexible enough with my full-time school and full-time work schedule.”
Was the internship experience what you expected?
“Yes, and more. It was an enriching experience that I feel fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to be a part of.”
What did you learn through your internship experience?
“I learned how to be more flexible with my schedule as well as my own skillset. I learned that the skills I have obtained through both work and classroom experience are transferrable through different projects and initiatives. This experience gave me further insight into the path that I want to take for my career, including showing me different options that are available in my field.”
What part of your internship was most impactful?
“Honestly, the teamwork. I found that our team worked extremely well together despite never meeting each other in person (due to the pandemic).”
Is there any knowledge that you gained that you think will help you in your future work?
“I think that learning how to populate a website, the graphic design skills that I was able to cultivate, as well as learning how to be audience-focused as opposed to academic in my writing will be skills that I will continue to use in my employment.”
Do you think this experience has impacted your understanding of experiential learning and its importance?
“Yes, for sure. In the beginning I did a lot of research into experiential learning and co-ops and such, and it really enlightened me to the importance of this kind of program for the experience of post-secondary students and the cultivation of their careers.”
Do you think other liberal arts students should pursue practicum or internship opportunities during their degree programs?
“Of course! Even if there is little doubt in their minds about what they want to do for their careers, I think it is imperative to see what options there are in your fields. Practicums and internships give you the opportunity to experiment with your work experience. It's an opportunity to learn what you enjoy to do, and hopefully somewhat alleviate the stress of realizing what you do not like to do.”