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: Brandon Canu
Position title: Emergency Management and Continuity of Operations (EMCO) Project Team Member
Workplace: Carleton University – Department of University Safety
NPSIA cluster: Intelligence & National Security
Position obtained through the Carleton co-op process?: Yes
Undergrad school(s): University of Waterloo
Undergrad major(s): Joint Honours Political Science and History with a specialization in International Relations and Global Governance
What is your commute to work like?
I live in the Meadowlands area which is not too far from campus and work. I generally walk or bike to work. Biking takes about a 5-10 minutes. Walking is about a 20-25 minutes along the canal.
How would you describe the dress code at your work?
Usually business casual but will wear a suit and tie for meetings and formal events.
Are there many other NPSIAns at your workplace?
I work with two NPSIAns. One NPSIAn is currently in their second year of International Organizations and Global Public Policy, the other is an Intelligence and National Security alumni.
What are the lunch options like nearby your work?
The essential Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and Roosters who makes a mean Western. There is also Subway, Pizza Pizza, and the Big Ravens Food Truck.
However, nothing beats gourmet food prepared by the master chef at Chez Canu :P.
How many jobs did you apply to this summer?
I applied to 42 jobs. I applied to anything that I found to be provocative and riveting relevant to my interests and program. I am very open, know what I want, and enjoy being adventurous towards trying different things.
Difficult question because there’s a lot I like about my current job. If I had to pick one thing it would be working with such an amazing staff and team in addition to meeting and building relationships with people.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I only have modest knowledge in emergency management and continuity of operations. To overcome this, I continue to seek out extensive training and seek out opportunities to familiarize myself and gain a more in-depth understanding of EMCO such as through training, volunteer work, and media outlets, in addition to professional development certifications.
What is an average day like for you?
My average day varies. Generally I work on completing Business Functions and Resources (F&R) Reports and Business Continuity Plans (BCPs); intelligence collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and planning; and participate in a large scale emergency management/business continuity/disaster recovery planning initiative. Sometimes tasks have to be completed immediately but generally I have 5 business days to complete required tasks which is easy to manage. Generally if I get tasked with something important, sometimes planned and spontaneous, I put a hold on everything that is not critical and focus most on the essential task(s) that need to get done.
Is your workplace fully bilingual, or does it favour English over French (or vice versa)?
English is the dominant working language though the workplace can easily be bilingual if needed. We also use German, French, Polish, Russian, and Mandarin when talking amongst each other and sometimes with faculty/staff.
What are some exciting things happening in your workplace right now?
Some really exciting things that are happening is active intelligence collection and dissemination, conducting interviews, data mining, and developing documents which will serve as foundational and primary documents for Carleton University to refer to and build upon in the long-run. As of recent I just finished developing a methodology document that will act as the primary document for conducting data mining and I also finished drafting my third BCP.
What surprised you the most about your workplace/position?
I was initially surprised with how different and intricate the work is but this makes it very interesting and enthralling because it mixed things up for me and really pushed me as a person. I was also surprised with the flexibility in scheduling and the emphasis on pursuing professional development opportunities.
Are you also taking classes (NPSIA, language training, etc.) and/or studying abroad this summer?
I am not taking any NPSIA classes during the summer however I have been doing language training. Currently I hold a certificate in introductory Swedish and Arabic. I recently got approved in level A1 German and am currently working towards my B1 German language certification with the Deutsche Welle Akademie in partnership with the Goethe Institute.
My job has also provided me with the opportunity to take professional development courses with agencies such as FEMA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Vanguard Continuity Management Professionals, numerous universities and much more.
Which NPSIA course best-prepared you for your position?
I would have to say that it is a combination of different elements from Intelligence and National Security, Global Crime, Terrorism and International Security, Research Methods and Statistical Analysis.
What sort of work experience did you have before this position?
My past experience includes:
• 6 years with The Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Lorne Scots, Canadian Armed Forces private contracting as a bagpiper and semi-professional photographer;
• 4 Years with the University of Waterloo Athletics Department as a professional bagpiper;
• 2 years co-running the non-profit organization Africa Border Monitor as an operations manager, author, and researcher;
• 2 years in retail with Lowe’s Home Improvement Canada as an Outside Lawn and Garden Customer Service Associate and as an Unload Associate;
• 2 years with the federal and provincial government as a Campaign Assistant for Oakville MP Terence Young and MPP Larry Scott;
• 2 years with Elections Canada as a Poll Clerk at the federal and municipal levels of government;
• 2 years with the Canadian Cancer Society as a runner, participant, and volunteer;
• and 1 year with Amnesty International Canada as a Write for Rights participant.
What are your hours like?
I can arrive anywhere between 7-8:30am as long as I put in 8 hours a day, including an hour for lunch. Depending on when I arrive, the day can end anywhere between 3-4:30pm.
What is some advice you’d give to a student hoping to get hired/intern at your workplace?
Approach your contacts and really try hard to work your networks both within and outside of the coop program because you never know where it may lead. I worked many contacts from outside the coop process and I continue to receive many invaluable experiences, contacts, references, and potential opportunities for potential future employment during another coop term and/or employment after my masters degree.
Definitely research where you are applying and the position you are applying for, especially if the employer requests an interview. Dress like you really want the job, for it is better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Also, sell yourself the best that you honestly can and always try your best to make a long lasting good impression from the very beginning.
If you feel that an interview may not have gone as planned and/or didn’t go the way you thought it would ideally go, do not dwell on it. Take it as a learning experience, recognize and admit any faults or concerns, learn from any mistakes, and come out swinging with confidence to other opportunities. Who knows, an interview that may not have gone the way you idealized it could still turn out as a potential job offer. Be confident in yourself and in your own abilities.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can offer is, just be yourself and don’t act like somebody you’re not.
Looking back, is there anything you wish you would’ve done differently in your job search?
The only thing that I can think of is being more proactive by approaching more employers outside of the coop job postings and apply to job postings more frequently on FSWEP.
Have any questions for Brandon?