Paying it forward in the midst of a pandemic

How alumna Pamela Menge ensured MRU student Jenna Thornton completed a work-placement essential to her degree


Alumna Pamela Menge helps Mount Royal student launch their career. 

For alumna Pamela Menge, bringing in Mount Royal University student Jenna Thornton in January for a work term placement was a full-circle moment.

“Having gone through the co-op program myself, it was a fun experience to be on the other end of this, even getting to work with Wanda Smith, the same work experience co-ordinator I had worked with as a student.”

As for Thornton, a third-year student in the Bachelor of Business Administration — Human Resources program, she was thrilled to land the role of human resources assistant at the Calgary offices of Fasken, a full-service law firm with locations in Canada, the U.K., South Africa and China. An extra bonus was being supervised by a Mount Royal alumna who had a first-hand understanding of the program.

This was Fasken’s first time hiring students through Mount Royal’s Career Services co-operative education program. They were so pleased with Thornton that within a month of her placement, they extended an offer for long-term employment that would allow her to continue her career development while completing school and another co-op work term.

Then the pandemic hit. Employers all over the world began instituting layoffs and downsizing in response to operational impacts from COVID-19. 

Student work placements dropped by almost 50 per cent, and Mount Royal had to adapt quickly to place over 300 students in the mandatory work terms they needed to graduate.


Mount Royal student Jenna Thorton lands dream work placement with Fasken. 

“Rather than having our work placement partners lay students off or cancel offers, we have worked with them to find solutions to ensure our students could still get that quality employment experience as well as their degree credit,” explains Wanda Smith, human resources co-operative education coordinator. This included facilitating access to potential funding sources to assist employers during these trying times.

Working collaboratively with Mount Royal’s Career Services, Fasken was able to notify Thornton on May 28 that she could complete her second work term, and hopes to hire her full time upon graduation.

“Fasken has an amazing and close-knit culture. My role is quite unique and has a lot of variety. I hope to stay there for the long term.” Thornton says.

As for Menge, she’s proud to give back as an alum by helping set Thornton on the first step of her career path. 

Jenna has been a huge help in our team while navigating the pandemic. This wasn’t what we initially had in mind for her work term this year, but she’s always been ready for a new challenge and willing to help in any way.”

Have you or your employer considered hiring an MRU student?

In response to COVID-19, Career Services has created flexible options for employers to bring on students for paid or volunteer work experience or applied research projects. Learn more here.

Alternative funding, including stipends paid directly to students, is available. Students are currently available from 15 diverse programs.

If your organization could benefit from working with our enthusiastic and talented students, please connect for more information on creating a mutually beneficial solution tailored to your needs.