Working on the Policy Team at WD

Eric NeudorfA 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.

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Gloria UgwokegbeI am more than halfway through my executive internship with Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), a Treasury Board Crown Corporation responsible for the distribution, regulation, management and operation of liquor and gaming across the province. So far it has been a rewarding experience. At SLGA, I work under the “Policy and Legislation” branch; my mentor the Vice President of the Corporate Services division along with other staff in the organization, have done a good job ensuring that I get the best internship experience that I could have ever wished for. Based on their wealth of experience, they provide me with vital insight into the general workings of their organization and its work environment. So far I have been exposed to decision making processes at the executive level by attending high-stakes meetings within the organization.

Over the past few months, I have not only had the opportunity to attend several executive committee meetings within the organization, but I have also been privileged to attend the standing committee on Public Accounts (PAC) as well as SLGA’s budget review meeting with Treasury Board. Being an international student, these meetings have given me a better understanding of the structure of the Canadian Parliamentary system and the budget planning process in Saskatchewan.

I am currently working on designing an education program for commercial permittees aimed at enhancing knowledge and compliance of liquor policy and regulations in the province. I am also working on the social reference pricing of alcohol products in the province; this goes a long way in encouraging responsible drinking habit in the province. In the past, I have designed a customer consultation workshop plan on product allocation and I have participated in a compliance audit exercise for two government owned liquor stores. It is also no longer news that the present government seeks to privatize 40 government owned liquor stores upon re-election this April. Well, this announcement came with lots of changes here at SLGA. I feel opportune to be here on my internship term, especially when lots of changes are being made; having to observe how ideas are thought through and transformed into decisions and also watching these decisions get implemented is absolutely amazing.

I will be rounding up my internship term come April 2016, but I can confidently say that I have learnt more about strategic planning, decision-making, leadership and real – world policy development, than when I first started my internship in September 2015.I must say that the JSGS Executive Internship Program has been an excellent learning opportunity for me in numerous ways and I strongly recommend this program to other JSGS graduate students.

Gloria Ugwokegbe is a MAEPA student from the University of Regina campus, and a 2015 Intern at Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.

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Summer Student to Executive Intern: My Experience at eHealth Saskatchewan

Ting NieI am an Executive Intern at eHealth Saskatchewan, and I report to Roseann Anderson, the Vice President of Finance and Administration. Before the internship started, eHealth also offered me a summer job. The first four months I built a costing model for the whole organization, which includes IT services, information governance, business and project management, legal and policy, and overhead costs. Through the development of the costing model, I became familiar with each division, and had a general understanding of their business and responsibilities.

The internship started in September, and I had the opportunity to join the weekly executive meetings to learn how the executive members work. Most of the time, I operated a benefits evaluation project to estimate how much value eHealth programs created to the Saskatchewan public and the health system. This evaluation is based on public research, reports and statistics. I made presentations to the Board of Directors and executives to introduce it. Now I am updating it with the feedback received.  During the project I pulled information from the financial statements, annual reports, previous contracts and agreements and statistical information collected by eHealth. Other senior co-workers also provided me with a lot of input.

I believe the JSGS Executive Internship is one of the most valuable parts of my MPA program. I strongly recommend that all eligible students should apply to the JSGS Executive Internship Program.

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

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Mariia ZHello! My name is Mariia Zaburko. I am interning with Strategic Planning and Policy, Public Service Commission (PSC), Government of Saskatchewan. My mentors are the Executive Director and the Senior HR Policy and Legislative Advisor in that branch.

To be honest, a year ago I was very nervous about being a successful candidate and receiving a good placement. At that point in time I did not know a lot about PSC. My worries disappeared after the first meeting with my mentors. I am grateful to the internship committee for pairing me up with this team.

In September, since week one I was plugged into the policy work. Development of the Employee Recognition policy step by step under supervision and ongoing support from my mentor will be my lifetime memory. Finally, I have experienced the realities of the policy world and it was breathtaking. Determining the purpose, goals and possible implications of the policy and going through multiple drafts and rounds of consultations taught me how to stay patient and focused on the scope of the issue we are trying to address.

Another valuable learning opportunity allowed me to support research and build a presentation around new HR Wall Walk metrics. In the end, I attended a presentation to Deputy Ministers’ led by my mentor, and participated in the discussion. I learned a lot of technical details about HR metrics, as well as how to interact with Executive level officials and handle their questions.

In the coming weeks we will start developing key elements of the Strategic HR Policy Framework, which has already become my passion. I consider myself a very lucky student, as I have an opportunity to learn about key policy-making components through supporting my mentor in setting up this holistic framework.

Besides everyday work, there is also a team factor. I truly admire the people I work with. Their trust and inviting style are the best motivation drivers for me to complete my internship successfully. My mentors and co-workers help me to grow professionally. In future I would like to continue our professional relationship and possibly my education (hopefully I will pursue a degree in HR management).

I believe that it does not matter where you have been placed as an intern. What matters are the people and personalities, your desire and ability to build sincere professional relationships and openness to learning.

The JSGS Executive Internship is a highlight of my MPA program and it will positively impact the start of my professional career. I recommend everyone to apply and participate in this rare learning opportunity. In the end, I want to say THANK YOU to our school, the interview panel, the PSC, my mentors and co-workers.

Mariia Zaburko is a MPA student from the University of Regina campus, and a 2015 Provincial Intern at the Public Service Comission.

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Working and Learning, My Experience at the City of Regina

Alberto Ortiz 2My name is Alberto Ortiz, and I am in my 6th month of my internship with the City of Regina. Something I am realizing now is how fast the experience goes. With my mentor, Michelle Forman, Manager of the Policy Support Branch, as a support person and instructor, I have worked on various interesting projects.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to be at City Hall in a recently created branch, the Policy Support Branch, which has given me the chance to see its evolution and all the processes involved. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about subjects that I previously knew little or nothing about. An example would be downtown parking policies and guidelines that I have been researching. I used to be someone who complained about how bad parking in downtown Regina is, but of course I never understood the complexity behind it. The best thing about this research is to know that parking can change the City in a way that many other policies could not. A vibrant and lively downtown depends a lot on parking in many ways. Only as an intern I have learned things like this.

Of course there are challenges, but I doubt there are jobs without challenges; if they exist they are probably boring. I have had 5 months to learn about an organization that I knew very little about, and every task, as simple as it seems to my mentor, has required that I learn something new (e.g., using a corporate policy/report template, or planning an engagement session). This may be one of the most valuable opportunities we interns have: a mentor who can guide us through this learning process. Michelle has been an excellent mentor; she has provided me with tools and direction, but she has also let me try (and sometimes fall) on my own, which I consider an excellent learning experience.

The JSGS Executive Internship Program has given me the valuable government work experience that I had been seeking for the past few years, and I would recommend any eligible student to take advantage of this opportunity. I would also like to encourage students to think about the municipal government, where there is a need for hard working people, and where your impact reflects on your everyday life, as the services that the City provides are the ones that we interact with most commonly.

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

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Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly

IMG_0090JSGS interns had the opportunity to meet with the speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly: Daniel D’Autremont, MLA for Cannington. It was an opportunity to be sitting where Saskatchewan’s decision makers sit and to be instructed on what exactly happens and what is expected of everyone. It was also a great opportunity to ask the speaker  questions. The following are some of the questions that were asked:

What does a speaker do exactly?
Overall, the Speaker ensures that both sides follow the rules. Adjudicating in the house is the first duty of the Speaker. The Speaker also makes sure that the members do all the roles assigned to them.
As a Speaker, Mr. D’Autremont is also the Minister of the Legislative Assembly and the Clerk is the Deputy Minister.
The Speaker meets and hosts most of the Ambassadors and Council Generals that visit the Province.

How does one become a Speaker?
One must be a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). This is because everyone who is in the House is an MLA including the Premier. As an MLA, the Premier must follow the same rules as all the members. These rules are set by the members and can be changed by a majority vote.
The Speaker is elected by all other MLAs in a secret ballot vote which is conducted after each general election.

Why does one decide to become a Speaker?
Well, different people have different motives for doing it. For Mr. D’Autremont, it is because he did not want to be sitting at home or in a cafe complaining about decisions that are made. He wanted to be a player in the decision making process.

What are some of the challenges in this position?
Sometimes the challenge for Mr. D’Autremont is admitting that he was wrong about something.

So why is the carpet now green?
Apart from the fact that it was time to replace the red carpet, the reasoning was that green matches the green marble tiles that cover the base of the pillars.

Random Facts:
Members can express themselves in whichever language they want, but they have to provide their own translator. No matter how passionate the individual or the discussion, cursing is not allowed.

The JSGS interns enjoyed the trip and would recommend it to anyone. They would also like to thank Daniel D’Autremont for his time and for being a great host.

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


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New Appreciation For How Complex It Can Be

Laura Saar photoAs a self-proclaimed policy freak, I have been handed an internship goldmine.

I work for the City of Saskatoon in the Community Standards Division of the Community Services Department.  This Division is brand new as of last year, so it has the unique advantage of being managed by a newly assembled team of people who have fresh perspectives on how to realize its mission.  This being said, many of the policies and programs the Division has absorbed have not been formalized or are in need of review.

My role and value here have been clear from the beginning.  I have been tasked with reviewing almost everything to do with public parking in Saskatoon and, where necessary, proposing ways the City can improve.  This includes programs and policies around residential parking, meter hooding, disabled parking, and even civic employee parking.  In some cases this has meant developing or re-writing entire programs.  Again: a goldmine.

Being so intensely focused on municipal parking policy for the past five months has given me a new appreciation for how complex it can be, and much respect for the people who manage it.  Best of all, I have no doubt that my contributions will be put to use in the future.  I look forward to experiencing the fruits of my labour on Saskatoon’s streets someday soon!

Laura Saar is an MPP student at the University of Saskatchewan campus, and a 2015 intern at the City of Saskatoon.

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