Meet Student Researcher: Matthew Blake

A few years ago, Matthew Blake decided to pursue a career in Mental Health Studies to become a clinical psychologist, but upon completion of his undergraduate studies, he realized that he lost his passion. When his father suggested that he try Project Management and shared details about the role, with great enthusiasm, Matthew decided to pivot. He enrolled in the Project Management program at Centennial College to align on a path better suited to his interests and personality. This first step towards a long-term career in project management led to his introduction to a project management internship opportunity at WIMTACH.

Now a Student Researcher at WIMTACH, in his role as a Project Management intern, Matthew acts as a facilitator for meetings. He helps the WIMTACH development team and the Social Innovation team to outline assignments for each week, review their work and assess areas of improvement. Importantly, his role as a project management intern is similar to a navigational aid for project teams, and he plays a significant role in helping development teams to stay aligned for project benchmarks.

Matthew spoke to WIMTACH about his internship experience.

Why did you decide to join WIMTACH?

I never really had any formal work experience, per se, especially in the industry and I was like OK, this internship program would be very good for me because it would allow me to kind of learn … to have an opportunity to not just be thrown in the fire if I was to do another job, but actually learn and develop my skills.

What is it like to be a project management intern?

I am currently working on two projects and for both of them, I am kind of in the scrum master role. In terms of day-to-day, I pretty much facilitate meetings within the project team. Working at WIMTACH in this role kind of allows me to apply the project management skills I’ve learned from the project management program to real-life projects, as they are time sensitive and have real resources behind them. I feel like it’s been very beneficial for me to work on multiple projects especially, which deal with a range of topics that allow me to get a multi-disciplinary project management experience.

What projects are you working on and what are some of your responsibilities?

One project involves game development. The other project involves web design and fixing bugs and optimizing a website and the third project I might be getting into would be involved in … the social innovation program. It kind of allows me to get experience working on different topics.

In terms of my day-to-day, pretty much what we do in terms of the agile projects …  we have a sprint planning session where we kind of figure out what we’re going to do over the next two weeks, what kind of work we’re going to produce. In this meeting, I act as a facilitator. One of the most important things that WIMTACH is allowing me to do is develop my soft skills as I have to facilitate all these meetings. It allows me to develop my communication abilities, of course, my ability to act as a facilitator, and facilitate a team, as well as my leadership ability. [In] a Scrum Master role, you’re more or less a servant leader in a sense, so you’re making sure that any roadblocks are cleared with the project team and making sure that they are completing their work and they are updating their tasks on Jira accordingly.

What technical skills have you gained from the internship?

So far, I am working as a Scrum Master and we are using Agile so we utilize this tool called Jira which is very important for Agile project management.

For the Marion Surgical project which involves game development, in that project I am more or less facilitating the use of Jira. During our meetings … I walk [the team] through certain aspects of the program. For the second project, I am kind of in a quasi-Business Analyst role where I am actually using more features of Jira.

The project [in the Social Innovation program] … will really help me gain more experience and optimize my learning in more of the tools used for waterfall planning.

Do you have a company in mind that you would like to work for after your internship?

I don’t necessarily have an exact company because you never know, I might change my mind in the future. I’m not really sure, but I guess the top of my list for potential jobs is a scrum master in the software development industry because I find it interesting.

What advice would you give an incoming student that has similar aspirations as you do?

I would recommend to them that if you want to be a project manager and you want more of a multidisciplinary agile based understanding … [WIMTACH] is very beneficial if you want real-life project management experience because you have an opportunity to actually work on real life projects and learn those soft skills which you don’t learn in the program (you learn the hard skills, the more technical side to project management) … This [internship] allows you to actually interact with teams and kind of understand people and how they work and actually manage people, which is like the most important part.

For more stories, please visit: