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.