My Internship at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Sam BeneshMy internship is with the Federal Government department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) in Saskatoon. I have been fortunate enough to have two mentors: one with Strategic Initiatives and Planning and the other with Community Opportunities.

My work with INAC has been multifaceted: I have worked on a unique community development pilot project with 14 Saskatchewan First Nation communities, administered different economic development applications and projects for First Nations and Metis institutions, organizations, and Tribal Councils, and coordinated and wrote a proposal for a strategic partnership project with federal departments and a northern Saskatchewan First Nation community. I have corresponded with colleagues in Ottawa, traveled to many First Nation communities in the province, and flew up to the remote community of Hatchet Lake First Nation (a really awesome experience). The most rewarding thing about this internship for me is traveling and meeting many different people, from all walks of life. I’m thankful to have met a lot of inspirational people along the way.

This internship experience has been overwhelmingly positive; I would recommend it to any JSGS student. I was the first JSGS Executive Intern at INAC. I think it was beneficial for me as I’ve had great guidance, but also the freedom to have different experiences and build strong relationships over the last seven months.

Samantha Benesh is a MPA student from the University of Saskatchewan campus, and a 2015 Federal Intern at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

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Between Two Worlds

Myron SolodukmAs an Executive Intern with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure I have had the unique pleasure of working in two departments, under two mentors, and in the process learned first hand about the benefits of collaborative work environments.

Over the course of my internship, I have split my time between the Policy and Planning Division and the Communications Branch. Such an experience and an opportunity I can’t imagine happening anywhere other than through the Johnson-Shoyama Executive Internship program. My days are a diverse amalgam of editing letters, speech writing, media correspondence, event planning, inter-jurisdictional meetings, planning sessions and administrative duties. It has been truly unique, and has given me opportunities to meet individuals from all across the Ministry, and to work with individuals from other Ministries and even other provinces.

One of my first tasks was to prepare a briefing binder for the Deputy Minister in preparation for Deputy Minister’s meeting to discuss emerging issues and strategies to address them. My role was to work with the Subject Matter Experts and ensure the most up to date information for each agenda item was included. I then prepared speaking points for each briefing note with input and approval from senior staff.

Whether it is planning an orientation event for new employees, writing briefing notes, or speaking notes, I have had experiences I couldn’t have found anywhere else. The amount of exposure to both day to day issues, and long term planning issues is the most beneficial aspect of the internship thus far.

Of course, any success I’ve had is due to the strong organizational structure at the Ministry, and a very important conversation that took place at the very start of my internship. I spoke with my mentors and established what was expected of me, what I was interested in working on, and most importantly, established the chain of command between my two mentors.

My internship has been a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to what will come in the future months. I have learned a lot and am enjoying my time with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.

Myron Soloduk is a MPA student from the University of Regina campus, and a 2015 Intern at the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.

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STARS Tour

LJ de GaraAll JSGS internship events are enriching, but I’m going to come out and declare a favourite, because so far only one of them has allowed me to sit in a helicopter. This week, a number of the JSGS interns had the pleasure of visiting the STARS Air Ambulance base in Regina.

STARS is a policy innovation borne of geographic necessity. As anyone who’s ever driven Saskatchewan’s highways will tell you, there are long stretches of this province which are marked mostly by their emptiness. If something goes wrong twenty minutes’ drive from Rosetown, SK (population 2,277) how can you possibly get to care in time? For a long time, the answer was “you can’t.” In medical contexts where seconds count—trauma, sepsis, labour complications—sometimes ground ambulances cannot arrive quickly enough.

This is wSTARS Tourhere STARS comes in. Dispatched from Saskatoon and Regina, the helicopters travel at hundreds of kilometers an hour and can land almost anywhere. Inside, their highly-trained medical team stabilizes the patient and delivers them to a tertiary hospital for further care. From the reception of an emergency call until the team’s helicopter departure: a blistering eight minutes. To think some people complain about how slow healthcare is in this country.

The cost savings to the public health sector are enormous, as timely treatment of strokes and brain injuries can save more than $1 million per patient. But it’s not just sector efficiency that’s at stake: their lobby prominently features a framed photo of a newborn with a tiny model helicopter—a life that would have ended before it began, were it not for the speed and effectiveness of STARS.

Public policy is best when it is nimble, adaptable, and innovative. Being able to see such a policy in action was a real honour.

Lisa Jane de Gara is a MPA student from the University of Saskatchewan campus, and a 2015 Intern at the Ministry of Education.

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My Experience at eHealth Saskatchewan

Anyi WangI am fortunate enough to be an executive intern at eHealth Saskatchewan while completing my MPA program. I am really enjoying the fantastic journey and it has not only raised my interest in health policy/administration, but has also given me the opportunity to witness the process of decision making within government system, and how to communicate with stakeholders.

I report to the Director of the Legal and Policy unit at eHealth. Early in the internship I did a lot of research and prepared environmental scans of health related legislation and regulation which informed new policy and legislation direction. eHealth is a young organization and requires many new policies. I am heavily involved in the policy development process and spend a lot of my time conducting research, engaging with stakeholders, and drafting and reviewing corporate policies. Through this work I have learned that legislation and policy development is complex: it is important to identify the stakeholders and understand their interests and requirements while balancing these with legislative obligations. I have also learned that it is important to stay flexible and adapt to the work environment.

Additionally, I have been part of the Portfolio Management Team where I helped prioritize programs and projects for the organization by assessing and scoring various elements including risk, resources and impact. This was done in a consistent manner while ensuring it complies with provincial targets, bringing higher business value to government processes.

One of the most valuable experiences regarding government operation is the adoption of “Lean” methodology. Throughout participating in relative sessions and events, I have a better understanding of Lean and how it is utilized in improving daily work efficiency and optimizing work process.

A nice habit I would recommend to future interns is to create a personal “Intern Journal”. This is to record and review my experience including work progress, meetings with updated knowledge, lessons learned, and even some slang and acronyms that could be useful in the future. Moreover, it would be a good approach to improve writing skills and start to thinking and expressing logically.

Anyi Wang is a MPA student from the University of Regina campus, and a 2015 Intern at eHealth Saskatchewan.

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Leadership in the Public Sector

Florence NiyuhireI am interning with the Policy and Program Services Branch, within the Ministry of Government Relations. I have two mentors and they are the Executive Director and the Director for Legislation and Regulations. The advantage of having two mentors is being able to see in action two kinds of leadership styles within the public service. Learning about leadership in the classroom is different from seeing it and experiencing it firsthand. In the classrooms we are taught about the different types and theories; i.e. transactional and transformative. When learning about the theories, there are differentiations and we are made to believe that a person is either one or the other. However, with anything that involves human beings, it is rarely the case. The complexity of the human beings makes it so that there is a mixture of both transformative and transactional leadership styles. The levels of seniority also tend to influence the approach taken and different situations call for a different approach. Seeing this played out gives a clearer picture that nothing is ever clear cut.

I am currently working on whistleblowing protection and how it should cover municipal employees. It requires a lot of inter-jurisdictional research; learning about other provinces and how they have approached this issue and the policy matters around this issue (e.g. how wrongdoing is defined; whether the municipal employees are protected within a city’ policy or bylaw, etc.). I am also looking at the Acts and regulations of the Technical Safety Authority of Saskatchewan (TSASK). The aim is to find a way that referenced codes within regulations can be updated or adopted automatically without amending the regulations since they are more a business decision driven by industry than a policy decision of government. All these projects are very hands-on and this is something that I would not have learnt from courses.

I would definitely recommend the internship to all the students. It is eye opening and very practical. This is a great opportunity to learn from great leaders and students have the chance to make the internship their own; which is very liberating.

Florence Niyuhire is a MPA student from the University of Regina campus, and a 2015 Provincial Intern at the Ministry of Government Relations.

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Beth MillerHi! My name is Beth Miller and I am an Executive Intern at the City of Regina. I am embedded in the Strategy Management Branch with the Branch Manager, Dawn Martin, as my mentor. My team is a passionate and welcoming group and I have enjoyed working alongside them this semester! Throughout the first few months the City Budget was undergoing its final stages and I was invited to be part of these meetings. There were a number of other meetings and events that I have taken part in, which has given me invaluable understanding of how municipal government works. I was given two main projects, which are very different from one another and have allowed me to work in different areas of the City.

The first project was working alongside Communications to explore and make recommendations regarding Public Engagement. I had the opportunity to find out what other cities across Canada have been doing in this area and made a presentation to the Executive Leadership Team. My other project has been working with a previous JSGS Intern in Finance to do a Financial Policy Review. We were each given a number of financial policies and were entrusted to create a policy (if required), and do an analysis/make recommendations on existing policies. Both of these projects have given me the opportunity to delve much deeper into areas that have been discussed in classes, but I now have firsthand understanding and experience. It has been wonderful to use the skills acquired throughout my MPA in a meaningful way and would recommend this experience to anyone that is considering to apply for next year.

Beth Miller is a MPA student from the University of Regina campus, and a 2015 Municipal Intern at the City of Regina.

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My Federal Internship Experience

Why hello! My name is Marc.

I am jusMark D'Eon picturet about halfway through my executive internship with Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), a federal department with offices across Western Canada. At WD, I work with the ‘Policy, Planning and External Relations’ team.

As a member of the Policy team, I have been able to undertake and lead a number of research projects. The first project I undertook was a comparative analysis of the innovation ecosystem in Saskatchewan. What I enjoyed about this project in particular was that I was given free rein to address this policy issue; I set the parameters, defined the problem, chose amongst the variables, gathered the information, conducted the analysis, and constructed the final document myself. On a scale of 1 to really neat, it was really neat.

Although I had no expectations as to whether my research would contribute to the creation or adjustments of programs or contributions, there is an opportunity for my research to have an impact on WD’s innovation contributions. All of the policy research that I’ve undertaken has been an excellent learning opportunity, in terms of both the subject matter that I write about, and of government processes.

One of the more valuable insights regarding government processes has been working for the federal government throughout an election, and subsequently through the transition to a new government. As large of an undertaking as a general election requires, an equally large undertaking is performed by every federal department, in preparing ‘transition books’ to bring the new minister, whomever they might be, up to speed. This is a monumental undertaking that can take months of work for some federal departments, as the full scope of the departments’ activities, stakeholders, and regionally relevant information needs to be synthesized, polished, and presented, such that a new minister can gain an immediate and comprehensive understanding of both the department and the characteristics of the region that the department operates within.

I hope all of my fellow interns have a wonderful winter solstice holiday.

Marc D’Eon is a MPP student from the University of Saskatchewan campus, and a 2015 Federal Intern at Western Economic Diversification Canada.

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