A little context: I spent most of the last year completing the research portion of my Public Policy program. When I signed up for the task, I imagined myself sitting at the desk in my little home office, probably in my pyjamas, probably with a cup of coffee and my dog curled up in the kennel behind me. That dream came true, but by the time I had finished the manuscript I had tied my brain in knots by working and reworking my analysis, alone in front of a screen. I don’t mean to knock the research experience; I had an excellent supervisor and an interesting topic, but I learned that the study of public policy is not meant to occur in isolation.
During my internship at Western Economic Diversification (WD) I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with a talented group of policy analysts, business advisors, and communications advisors in ways that contribute to the development of Saskatchewan’s economy and the wellbeing of the people who live here. I have a whole team of mentors who bring a wealth of talent and experience to every project, whether it is putting together a briefing note, meeting to determine priorities, or developing a list of stakeholders for upcoming consultations.
The first day I arrived in the office, my mentor Rhonda Laing, Director of Policy, Planning, and External Relations, made sure that I found a place on her team. She invited me to sit down with every member of the Policy and Communications Team, and by chatting with each individual, I developed a solid understanding of how our team contributes to the mission of WD. I learned about organizational structures and reporting, norms for communication, and who I could rely on for expertise in a wide variety of topics. As part of the team I was able to contribute to exciting research, even in that very first week. We got right to work preparing research that would inform the assessment of project proposals for WD’s Western Innovation (WINN) program, and later I was able to see our work reflected in the attitudes and actions of executives.
While I believe that my year as a researcher was a valuable experience, I love the daily collaboration at WD. We all come to the public service wanting to express our views and make a difference, but that challenge is best exerted when we have others who are willing to make a difference in us.
Eric Neudorf is a MPP student from the University of Saskatchewan campus, and a 2016 Federal Intern at Western Economic Diversification.