This post is part of a profile series on NPSIAns and their summer work experiences. If you have any questions for the student profiled, please refer to their contact information at the bottom of this post.
Name: Graeme Archibald
Position title: Junior Desk Officer for the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
Workplace: Europe Bilateral and Institutional Relations Division, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development at 125 Sussex Drive.
NPSIA cluster: International Organizations and Global Public Policy
Position obtained through the Carleton co-op process?: Yes
Undergrad school(s): University of Alberta
Undergrad major(s): Political Science
What is your commute to work like?
I live in the Billings Bridge area, not to far from Carleton campus. The commute with OC Transpo is about 50 minutes to an hour depending on connections.
How would you describe the dress code at your work?
Business casual at minimum to full suit-and-tie for meetings and other important events.
Are there many other NPSIAns at your workplace?
No other students in my section, but there are a couple of other NPSIA and uOttawa co-op students on my floor.
What are the lunch options like nearby your work?
125 Sussex is fairly isolated – restaurants are about a 20 minute walk away. There is a cafeteria with a decent range of options, but it is cash-only and can get boring, so I recommend bringing a lunch.
How many jobs did you apply to this summer?
I applied to about 30 positions. I applied to almost every position that seemed at least a little bit interesting or relevant to my education (and some that did not). 30 was not necessary, so I recommend applying only for those jobs that you are very interested in, but also meet and even exceed the qualifications for.
What is your favourite part about your job?
I’m getting real experience working in Canada’s foreign service, learning about processes and procedures, as well as the more human element of diplomacy. I’ve had the opportunity to work on high-level briefing materials and be in meetings with foreign dignitaries, parliamentarians, and ambassadors.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Deadlines are often tight and it is often not an option to miss them. The materials that my team and I produce are sent to Ministers and occasionally the Prime Minister, so expectations are very high.
What is an average day like for you?
Specific tasks vary day-to-day, but in general – preparation of briefing materials for visits and meetings, keeping our files on other countries up to date, going through the approvals process, keeping in touch with our missions abroad and responding to their concerns.
Is your workplace fully bilingual, or does it favour English over French (or vice versa)?
Fully bilingual, though it is easy enough to get by with English. Divisional meetings are held in both English and French, with officers using the language that they are most comfortable in.
What are some exciting things happening in your workplace right now?
The G7 Summit and a few bilateral trips for the Prime Minister and Ministers.
What surprised you the most about your workplace/position?
How much responsibility individual officers have. Each officer is responsible for a group of 3-5 countries.
Which NPSIA course best-prepared you for your position?
Policy Process, International Organizations, U.S. Foreign Policy — not because of content or subject matter, but because I was required to write in a certain style for policy memos, a style that I use in writing my materials at DFATD.
What sort of work experience did you have before this position?
I previously worked for the federal government for one year on contract as an administrative support clerk.
What are your hours like?
7.5 hours a day, 37.5 a week – start/end times are flexible however. I usually start between 8:30-9 and work until 4:30-5.
What is some advice you’d give to a student hoping to get hired/intern at your workplace?
Emphasize your education, analytical, and writing skills. Demonstrate your subject matter knowledge, as well as your organizational and prioritization abilities.
Have any questions for Graeme?