Co-op Features

Marcus Rollins, Summer 2018 Co-op

I had the pleasure of working for Cascade Aerospace, one of Western Canada's most prominent aerospace and defense firms. Located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Cascade Aerospace specializes in third-party maintenance and modifications for commercial, missionized and military aircraft.

I worked in the business development department, which  has overall accountability for processes related to identifying and responding to market and business opportunities. Specific functional responsibilities of business development includes marketing, media relations, opportunity assessment, business development relations and proposal completion. My primary role within this department was to assist in the development of a company wide-offset strategy structured around Canada's new Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy.

This large project required me to engage in extensive research on the topics of Canadian offset policy, procurement policy, and the formal business operations of Cascade Aerospace. I also participated in ITB related workshops hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, and worked to draft briefing memos and company presentations on the topic of ITBs. Through this work, I was able to further develop my research, writing, communications and analytical skills, while also developing a greater understanding of of how to effectively operate within a business environment. I was also able to network with professionals in the military, the defense sector, and the federal government.

Working at Cascade was an amazing experience, and the MPP program prepared me very well for this co-op term. Currently, a majority of the recommendations I helped to draft have been implemented by the company, proving that the skills I have gained during my time at SFU are applicable to both the private and public sectors. 

Stephanie Sinitson, Summer 2018 Co-op

I spent my summer co-op term in 2018 working with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in the Strategic and Service Policy Branch, which is responsible for providing research and policy analysis on socioeconomic policy issues. Within the branch, I worked with the Social Policy Directorate, which was in the final stages of putting together Canada’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy during my co-op term.

I was lucky to jump into such a high-profile file just before it was launched and had the opportunity to do a lot of meaningful policy work surrounding poverty reduction in Canada. The work that I did included analyzing various social programs that target low-income individuals and vulnerable populations, as well as analyzing measures and indicators of low-income and poverty.

Throughout my co-op term, I both led and provided input to a number of policy memos, briefing materials, presentations for international delegations, and data analysis products. The team that I worked with was very supportive and treated me as if I was any other member of the team. The work that they gave me also gave me the opportunity to put the skills that I’ve learned in the MPP program into practice and I felt like the program prepared me really well to do my job!

I highly recommend to any MPP students to consider doing a co-op term with the federal government in Ottawa. It was a great way to experience what a career in the federal government would be like and to see what’s happening at the centre of the policy action in Canada.

Max Wood, Summer 2018 Co-op

I was fortunate to do my summer co-op with a Vancouver non-profit called PeaceGeeks. At PeaceGeeks, I worked as the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Coordinator for the Meshkat Community project. Meshkat Community is an initiative launched by PeaceGeeks in Jordan, with the aim to strengthen community cohesion and constructive dialogue in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region by building skills, networks, knowledge, and capacity.

As M&E Coordinator, I assisted the project manager preparing the annual narrative report to Global Affairs Canada. I was responsible for designing evaluation surveys, analyzing survey data, designing and implementing a process for social media content analysis, working on the logic model, creating guidance documents for Meshkat M&E, conducting M&E interviews with academics and practitioners, as well as editing and contributing to the M&E narrative report.   

This experience has helped confirm my passion for the peacebuilding/development/humanitarian spaces. Even with some quotidian challenges, the mission and the people make this space a fulfilling and exciting one.

Looking to the future, I know that many of the skills I honed throughout the summer will be directly applicable to the peacebuilding space—but also would find use in any other project-based organization. Most importantly, I will carry a deep appreciation for the passion, sense of community, and desire to make the world incrementally better—through challenging but necessary processes.

Emma Crane, Summer 2017 Co-op

I spent the summer of 2017 working for Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in Ottawa. I was placed in the Strategic and Service Policy Branch which exists to provide the Department with research and advice on a range of socio-economic policy issues such as social program delivery and workforce development.

The team I worked for is responsible for conducting and analyzing research on labour market issues in the North, with a particular focus on Inuit communities. During my work term I was involved in a wide range of research and policy development activities including report and memo writing, data analysis, survey development and stakeholder consultation. One of the major projects I worked on was a research report on educational and economic trends in Nunavut, which was shared with stakeholders to inform the design of employment training plans.

My colleagues were supportive but also allowed me to take leadership in the tasks I was assigned. As a result, the skills I developed in my first year in the MPP program improved substantially over the summer. Overall, I found that my co-op experience was highly related to what I learned in the MPP program and allowed me to develop a better understanding of my career prospects. 

I would encourage future MPP students to consider Ottawa for their co-op positions. In addition to a great work experience, I had a fun summer and made lots of new friends!

Jorgen Harink, Summer 2017 Co-op

I did my co-op at the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) as a Policy and Program Assistant from May to August 2017, and my contract was extended until December 2017. The FNHA “is the first province-wide health authority of its kind in Canada. In 2013, the FNHA assumed the programs, services, and responsibilities formerly handled by Health Canada's First Nations Inuit Health Branch – Pacific Region. [FNHA’s] vision is to transform the health and well-being of BC's First Nations and Aboriginal people by dramatically changing healthcare for the better.”

I worked with the policy team in the Health Benefits department. The role of the Health Benefits department is to administer First Nations health benefits formerly provided through Health Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program. These benefits include dental, vision, pharmacy, mental health, medical supplies and equipment, and medical transportation benefits for all eligible First Nations in Canada. Many of these benefits are still delivered through NIHB to First Nations in BC, and so one of the primary goals over the next few years is for FNHA Health Benefits assume control over the administration of these benefits in order to meet the unique needs of First Nations in BC.

During my co-op term, the Health Benefits team was in the process of transferring administration of the pharmacy benefit from NIHB to an FNHA-specific plan under BC PharmaCare. In alignment with this objective, I was given the task of drafting the first ever FNHA Pharmacy Benefit Policy Framework. This project took up the majority of my co-op term and is the project from which I learned the most about the intersection of provincial and federal health systems and policy, and further inspired me to pursue a career in health policy. I felt very fortunate as a student to have been able to take the lead on such a substantial project, as this expanded my professional skills and enhanced my self-confidence. The professional development I gained through this position was instrumental in getting a job as a Policy Analyst with the Doctors of BC where I currently work.

I would highly recommend the FNHA to students looking for a co-op. Because FNHA is a new organization going through rapid and substantial change, there is opportunity to be involved in major projects in a meaningful way. The culture of the organization is that of a family, I always felt welcome, and I felt that the work I was doing was going to have a real and positive impact. 

Lucas Neufeld, Summer 2017 Co-op

During the summer co-op term, I had the opportunity to work at the Angus Reid Institute, a non-partisan, not-for-profit public opinion research foundation. With the goal of assisting the development of sound social and economic discourse and awareness of issues of public importance, the Angus Reid Institute commissions, conducts, and disseminates original, publicly accessible and impartial public opinion polling research and policy analysis.

I did a little bit of everything during my co-op. Writing, editing, data crunching, creating graphs, scripting surveys, drafting questionnaires, generating and pitching ideas, doing the background policy research – all of this was part of my responsibilities. I also spent a lot of time researching over the summer to keep up with topical stories and to be aware of policy issues across the country, from small business taxation to supply management to carbon taxation. Not only did I have the chance to be part of nationally recognized opinion polls and press releases but working at the Institute allowed me to fine tune my data analysis skills while gaining exposure to a range of software programs and polling techniques. 

The co-op term was invaluable to my professional skill development.  I would be remiss to not mention the opportunity to have near immediate access to the Canadian psyche – it is incredible to be able to know where Canadian opinion is on any given topic.

Overall, I am confident that my co-op experience has given me a step up as I move forward with my career. 

Kai Furugori, Summer 2016 Co-op

From May to August 2016, I was employed at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in the Ottawa/Gatineau region. I worked as an economist in the Regulatory Analysis and Valuation Division (RAVD) of the Economic Analysis Directorate (EAD). The main outputs of the team I worked with are cost-benefit analyses (CBA) and Regulatory Impact Analysis Statements for regulations pertaining to air-pollutants and other toxins.

Over my Co-op term, I conducted research for departmental topics of interest such as the uptake of energy-efficiency investments by the oil and gas industry. I also developed arguments tackling methodological inquiries such as the proper valuation of Crown royalties and raw resources in CBA. With the help of my team, I developed a presentation slide deck on the valuation of raw resources in CBA, and personally delivered the presentation to the Director of RAVD and the Director General of EAD in a series of brownbag lunches. This exhilarating experience provided the perfect platform to develop my analytical and oral presentation skills. I was also given the opportunity to witness a series of government-stakeholder consultations for a forthcoming regulation, giving me an appreciation for the hands-on work and engagement that governments do in addition to rigorous computational analysis.

My experience at ECCC meshed perfectly with my career goal of becoming an environmental economist. In my position, I was able to utilize the skills I developed in the MPP program such as empirical research, economic analysis, and data presentation. Knowledge of policy was a great asset in a department focused on regulation, allowing me to grasp impact analysis more thoroughly.

Filip Jaworski, Summer 2016 Co-op

The BC Centre for Palliative Care exists in an exciting area of health policy with a mission to “Enable excellence in palliative care for all British Columbians”. I am grateful to have worked in such a unique organization because I was able to directly apply the skills gained at SFU. The enthusiastic and supportive staff helped me navigate the difficult end-of-life topics, and the complex stakeholder relationships.

As someone new to this policy area, there were many situations, in which both the destination and road were unclear. However, expertise, perseverance, and positive attitude of the staff ensured I never felt like I was spinning my wheels. In my role as a Project Coordinator, I was involved in a range of initiatives and my inclusion in various meetings meant that I was able to see the trajectory of various public policy ideas.

In contrast to other provinces, the BC CPC has done a lot to improve the capacity of various communities to meet the growing demand for palliative services in BC. The core team has been able to accomplish an outstanding amount of work throughout the province by leveraging existing networks of hospices and other health related organizations. I was able to understand palliative care in BC at the “systems-level”, but also interact with stakeholders on a personal level.

I would highly recommend this Co-op positin to anyone passionate about healthcare administration and strategic planning. 

Caitlin Williamson, Summer 2015 Co-op

I spent my 2015 summer co-op position as a special projects assistant in the Aboriginal Affairs Unit at Environment Canada (EC). This unit provides Aboriginal policy advice, negotiation support and strategic engagement in British Columbia Treaty Negotiations, Treaty Implementation, and RDGO Special Initiatives.

My primary role within this unit was to support the other team members in whatever capacity was required.  This manifested in a variety of ways and created a very diverse experience that was perfectly suited to my needs as a developing policy analyst. I particularly enjoyed assisting the Treaty Negotiations Advisor in her policy work pertaining to ongoing treaty negotiations. My supervisors were committed to my professional development and provided me with incredible training, guidance, and support.

This position gave me hands-on, real world experience with policy analysis and government decision-making and was a perfect complement to my studies in the MPP program. In addition, I gained substantive knowledge related to First Nations and energy development in BC and I obtained the technical skills necessary to work effectively in an office environment. This work experience confirmed my passion and interest in public policy and has undoubtedly made me a more desirable job candidate and a more effective student for my second semester of the MPP program. 

Danielle Woolsey, Summer 2015 Co-op

During my co-op term I worked with RoadSafetyBC, a unit of the BC Ministry of Justice as a Program and Research Analyst. RoadSafetyBC is responsible for developing, implementing, and sustaining road safety policies and programs.

My supervisor was very committed to my co-op experience and making sure I was able to contribute on a variety of projects. I was particularly pleased to work on road safety policy, have documents I worked on sent to the Minister, contribute to an important public document, and to engage with a stakeholder difference of opinion. Most importantly, this experience improved confidence in my ability to contribute in a policy environment.

The wide variety of topics covered in the first year of the MPP program provided the skills necessary for the policy world, regardless of the subject. I knew little about road safety at first but was able to apply general research and policy skills to this new field.

This job fit all of my learning objectives. I learned a great deal about how government and policy works, learned more specific information about the role of RoadSafetyBC and road safety as a field, and tried a number of new tasks and assignments I had never done before. I am confident that the experience gained in this position will help with future endeavours.