Study abroad, writing course help land job

June 15, 2006, volume 36, no. 4
By Diane Luckow

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Yusef Rashid, who graduates with a bachelor of arts degree in political science, is already in Ottawa training to become a diplomat with the department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

He was among 11,000 Canadians to write DFAIT's series of standardized recruitment exams last May and one of just 115 to be accepted into the foreign service. At 23, he's also among the very youngest.

He credits a semester abroad at the University of Koc in Turkey and SFU's new writing intensive courses with helping him to land the job.

“Having worked or gone to school abroad was one of the main criteria that DFAIT considered,” he explains.

Writing ability was also tested and he did well on that, he says, because he took some of the new writing intensive pilot courses that will form part of SFU's new undergraduate curriculum this fall. “I imagine that those courses were probably very important in helping me to write at a higher level by the time I finished my degree,” he says.

Currently, Rashid, who grew up in Burnaby and attended Burnaby North secondary school, is in Ottawa earning a handsome annual salary while taking French classes full-time. He'll then spend an additional year or two learning everything from etiquette to public policy procedures.

Once he has completed his training, Rashid will be posted abroad as a foreign service officer in the political/economic stream of DFAIT, where he will work to implement Canadian foreign policy.

“This is an ideal job,” he says. “I can directly apply what I learned at SFU.” It's also a great opportunity, he says, to see the world and make a difference at the same time.

His diplomacy skills are already evident. “I really enjoyed SFU,” he says. “There were definitely a lot of opportunities. They have allowed me to get a job that I'll really enjoy.”

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