I had the good fortune of spending the past summer as an intern in the Business Expertise Department of Service Canada. My experience could not have been more valuable and fun than if I had designed it myself. My mentor was a Senior Manager, and since she had began her career as a student, she was well aware of the specific needs and experience that I would gain from an internship placement. While the first few days involved a great deal of reading, it all helped me to see where our branch fit in with the larger mandate of Service Canada, as well as to understand the general structure of a Federal Government department. One of the first projects I contributed to was composing a briefing document for the incoming ADM on each area of the Business Expertise unit. While my input was minimal, it was great to see not only what all of the other pieces were responsible for, but to also see the collaboration involved in composing a document like that.
Over the summer, my mentor worked with me to find projects that would not only assist the team, but also utilize and strengthen my skills in public policy and research. My capstone project was on adult learning and training, for which I wrote a report and presented it to my team. It included recommendations on how to strengthen and support adult learning and employee training given the vast geographical and fiscal considerations a Federal government department faces. I was also able to attend a variety of meetings, contribute to briefing notes and reports, as well as work with updating the Terms of Reference for the Occupational Health and Safety Committee. My mentor was more than supportive of me taking advantage of the resources provided by the Federal Government, including encouraging any online training I found interesting, taking part in seminars put on by YMAGIN, the Federal Government youth network, or spending a day researching policy.
I got to work with a team of 15 people, with our group spread out in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Regina. Every team member was extremely helpful and friendly, whether I had to call them out of the blue or send them a random email. And, while my time as in intern concluded at the end of August, my mentor was more than happy to keep me on part-time for the school year, allowing me more opportunities to contribute to research and get to know more about the Federal Public Service.
I recommend every student apply for the Internship program, as the experience and contacts you make are invaluable. The opportunity to take the knowledge I had learned in my course work and be able to see it ‘in action’ allowed me to understand it that much more, but I was also able to learn of the many real-world issues that cannot necessarily be taught in the academic setting. Not only does the internship allow you to reinforce your theoretical skills, but it also exposes you to challenges that make you understand the variety of ways that a government works in. I feel like the internship has not only strengthened my policy skills, but also provided me with the confidence to work within government and succeed as a public servant once I complete my degree.
Meaghen Boiteau is a JSGS student from the University of Regina campus, and a Federal Intern at Service Canada.