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: Emily Singer
Position title: Junior Analyst
If this confused you/you think this is too many organization names to precede one person’s title, don’t worry it you’ll figure it out quickly once you get into government!
NPSIA cluster: International Organizations and Global Public Policy
Position obtained through the Carleton co-op process?: No
Undergrad school(s): Dalhousie University & University of King College and a semester at Aarhus Universitet (Denmark)
Undergrad major(s): History and Political Science
What is your commute to work like?
I live in Sandy Hill (used to live near Chinatown) and from both places it is a 20 minute walk to Laurier/Bank and a 10 minute bike ride.
How would you describe the dress code at your work?
Business casual on my team and at the meetings I go to, but some of the divisions wear jeans and more casual wear (communications and IT mainly I think).
Are there many other NPSIAns at your workplace?
There’s an old storage closet full of OttawaU grad students working for the National Security side (literally an old storage closet with a few small cubicles) but no NPSIAns that I’ve run into.
What are the lunch options like nearby your work?
There are quite a few and there are food courts all over downtown that a lot of office workers go to. I usually get together with some NPSIAns who work near by and we go grab something or eat what we packed together. However, besides Parliament Hill there aren’t a lot of scenic sitting options to enjoy your lunch at.
How many jobs did you apply to this summer?
I got an FSWEP where you don’t have to apply directly to jobs, you submit a resume and check some boxes and they find you.
TIP that I didn’t know when I did my application, they use an algorithm to scan your resume so use generic words like ‘communication’ and ‘supervised’ and don’t be afraid if your resume reads really repetitively/isn’t something you would give to a real person.
That my supervisor lets me work an a lot of different projects and even though strategic planning isn’t necessarily where NPSIAns want to be I still get to interact with PS’s portfolio agencies like CBSA, CSIS, RCMP, etc. that are more NPSIA-oriented.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The learning curve when I started was pretty steep but now most of the challenges stem from getting other branches to do what we want them too haha.
What is an average day like for you?
I’ve been given three summer long projects but on the day to day I can be in meetings, at a workshop, working on a report for the ADM, preparing decks for interdepartmental meetings, etc.
Is your workplace fully bilingual, or does it favour English over French (or vice versa)?
It feels like everyone at Public Safety is bilingual and sometimes meetings will be conducted in French and English where certain participants will only use French (which is difficult for me but I’m learning). Day-to-day I use English in my work and then it is translated into French (if necessary) by someone else on my team.
What are some exciting things happening in your workplace right now?
Errr… we’re revamping the way we measure the performance of our programs… exciting, right? But it actually is, we’re looking at how we measure success and what our programs in border security, countering crime, etc. are aiming to do and whether that’s an effective way to reach our strategic objective (“a safe and resilient Canada”).
What surprised you the most about your workplace/position?
That they let me do pretty much whatever interests me. If there’s a conference I want to go to and it fits the schedule, I can go. If there’s something going on in the Division that I think sounds interesting, they let me jump in on it. There’s a big emphasis on professional development and letting me gain transferable skills that I can take to other workplaces.
Are you also taking classes (NPSIA, language training, etc.) and/or studying abroad this summer?
There’s room in the budget for me to take some professional development courses or workshops through my work so I’ll probably do that, and there’s been mentions of a intradepartmental French program that I will take advantage of but no NPSIA courses.
Which NPSIA course best-prepared you for your position?
SURPRISINGLY Research Methods (everyone’s faaaavourite class) and a little bit of Policy.
What sort of work experience did you have before this position?
No government experience but I worked for a non-profit during the last year of my undergrad then I temp-ed for a while and worked as a receptionist (/junior accountant/marketing coordinator/office admin) for 2 years before I went to grad school. During the school year I work at the GSA on campus (also I’m on the NSA but I don’t know if that helped me get the job haha).
What are your hours like?
I was able to choose when I wanted to start anywhere from 7-9am and I prefer to start between 7 and 7:30am so I can be out of the office early and enjoy the sun.
What is some advice you’d give to a student hoping to get hired/intern at your workplace?
Be flexible and willing to try different roles that aren’t exactly what you want to do to gain the skills that will take you where you want to be. Also, emphasize your transferable skills and ability to communicate using different mediums (eg. I do a lot of things like charts and decks that are supposed to be visually appealing).
Anything else to add?
Be up front about what you’re looking to gain from the job and your supervisor will probably try and accommodate you (within reason).
Have any questions for Emily?
You can get in touch with her via the NPSIA Students’ Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.