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: Chelsea Sayers
Position title: International Development Officer
Workplace: Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD)
Europe, Middle East, and Maghreb
Maghreb and Regional Commercial Relations
NPSIA cluster: Conflict Analysis & Resolution
Position obtained through the Carleton co-op process?: Yes
Undergrad school(s): Carleton University
Undergrad major(s): Political Science and Spanish
How would you describe the dress code at your work?
Are there many other NPSIAns at your workplace?
Yes, there are plenty of NPSIAns here at DFATD. Everywhere you go you’re bound to find a NPSIAn.
How many jobs did you apply to this summer?
I first applied to Co-Op in 2013. I applied to two positions with DFATD. I was already working for the federal government so I was quite selective with my Co-Op application.
The first Co-Op position I had was with the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian Refugee program at DFATD. I worked there for one year (I did three consecutive contracts), and was then offered a position with the Ukraine Program at DFATD. I then worked for the Ukraine program for a year and was offered a bridging opportunity with the Morocco Development program which is under the Maghreb and Regional Commercial Relations Division.
What is your favourite part about your job?
My favourite parts of my job include the fast-pace work environment; the travel opportunities; the relationships I get to build with stakeholders from the private sector, international NGOs, and multilateral organisations; and the level of responsibility I am given in the management international development projects.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part I would say is the processes that we work with in such a heavily bureaucratic department.
What is an average day like for you?
My main responsibility is managing international development projects. My tasks in project management (among many others) include: assessing project proposals (from private sector, INGOs, and multilateral organisations); developing and negotiating grant and contribution agreements with partner organisations; monitoring project activities and identifying risks to ensure successful achievements of expected results; and establishing and maintaining stakeholder relations and accountability standards. My main responsibility is managing international development projects. My tasks in project management (among many others) include: assessing project proposals (from private sector, INGOs, and multilateral organisations); developing and negotiating grant and contribution agreements with partner organisations; monitoring project activities and identifying risks to ensure successful achievements of expected results; and establishing and maintaining stakeholder relations and accountability standards.
Is your workplace fully bilingual, or does it favour English over French (or vice versa)?
I work with both the Morocco development program, and the broader Middle East North Africa (MENA) team. My work with Morocco is always done in French, whereas my work with MENA is in English.
Are you also taking classes (NPSIA, language training, etc.) and/or studying abroad this summer?
While I was doing my Co-Op placement I took evening courses at the same time.
What sort of work experience did you have before this position?
Prior to starting at DFATD in 2013, I had 5 years of experience working for another government department, along with experience working abroad (in Guatemala for a NGO) and studying abroad.
What are your hours like?
08:00-16:00. The majority of the time I end up working overtime.
What is some advice you’d give to a student hoping to get hired/intern at your workplace?
The advice I would give to a student is to understand not only the organisation that they are applying to, but to the specific branch, division, and group that they are applying to work for. It’s important to understand the branch’s mandate and priorities, and being able to identify how their particular skills would contribute to the team.
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 Chelsea?
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.