Canadian Embassies and Consulates: An Interview with Joseph Paguio

Canadian Embassies and Consulates: An Interview with Joseph Paguio

By: OLC Admin
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Landing an internship at an embassy is a dream come true for students interested in diplomacy, foreign policy, international trade, and development. Students have the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in dynamic, fast-paced, and highly rewarding environments, while learning from leaders in international relations.

In a three-part series, we caught up with SFU students who have completed internships at Canadian Embassies, to hear their thoughts on how they prepared to apply, interview, and ultimately relocate for their position.

In 2017, Joseph Paguio, completed a trade internship with Canada’s Embassy to Thailand. Here, Joseph shares his thoughts on the value of connections, and importance of taking risks to create opportunities.

What academic and professional experience did you have before you applied for your internship? Do you feel that there was something specific about your background that helped you land the job?

I am currently an International Studies major at Simon Fraser University. I have completed a total of five co-op terms. My co-ops include: a term at the Mexican Consulate Trade Commission in Vancouver, two terms at Global Affairs Canada's Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) in Vancouver, and two terms at my current internship at the Embassy of Canada to Thailand in the Trade Commissioner Service. I think my first internship at the Mexican Trade Commission helped me secure a position with the TCS due to the similar nature of the job, namely doing international business development, and the client-facing role that it entailed.

When I applied to the Mexican consulate, I had no business experience on my resume, nor did I do well in economics or business at SFU. I really got my lucky break with them – along with my MyExperience application, I sent an email with my attached resume to their public inbox. When I got the call to interview, I made sure to research Mexican and Canadian trade relations to prepare as much as possible. But most importantly, I was able to present myself as professional, knowledgeable, and very easy going. It’s incredibly important to come across as likeable – it could absolutely mean the difference between getting the job and not.

Were you strategic in the co-op positions you applied to before the internship? Did you choose other positions prior to applying to an embassy to help build your experience?

With my next term at the TCS office in Vancouver, as much as I would like to say they hired me because of my experience and interview skills, they were in need of a student as their previous co-op student had to drop out suddenly. It was nearly a month and a half into the semester, and they sent out a last-minute request to SFU Co-op. I indicated my interest in the position to Kamal from Arts and Social Sciences Co-op and she was able to reach out to them and vouch for my previous experience at the Mexican Trade Commission. I am fairly sure that I was the only one willing to join last minute and drop out of my classes to work full time. In the end, I was hired by Global Affairs Canada after my interview for the remainder of the semester and was offered my first co-op term extension with them in the following summer semester. Working for the Trade Commissioner Service in Vancouver was clearly a strategic move that positioned me to work for the Trade Commissioner Service abroad, as I was able to cultivate the much needed experience and connections.

Were there barriers that you faced in the application process? Did you have to apply more than once, or have trouble finding an internship that fit your qualifications? 

The Embassy of Canada to Thailand does not advertise with SFU. Instead, I was able to connect with the Senior Trade Commissioner (STC) at the Embassy while I was still in the TCS Vancouver office. My current boss and STC in Vancouver knew the STC in Bangkok very well, and he was able to provide a crucial recommendation. He vouched for my working ability and direct relevant experience. I am confident this played a role in getting me hired.

What was the interview like and how did you prepare? 

During the interview, I reiterated what I had already been doing in Vancouver as I was still within the same organization. I spoke about what I had already done for the TCS.

How did you prepare to relocate? What sort of advice would you give to students who might be apprehensive about relocating for co-op?

You have to take risks. It’s absolutely a risk and a sacrifice to extend your graduation and come all the way out here. But the world is an exciting place, and the Asia-Pacific region is hectic, incredible and full of opportunities for young people. I have been lucky to have such amazing experiences. This won’t come about if you sit and wait for things to happen.

Do you have any additional advice for students considering applying for an embassy internship? 

My one piece of advice is this: your connections and your network are everything. Putting yourself in positions where you can meet people, work with people and make a positive impression are all things you can do to grow your network. This is the most important reason to complete a co-op. Who you know, and who knows you is incredibly important in setting you up for future success.

Joseph Paguio has graduated from Simon Fraser University and is currently completing his LLM in International Law at the University of Edinburgh. 

Beyond the Article

  • Connect with Joseph Paguio on LinkedIn. 
  • If you are interested in learning more about opportunities like Joseph's, visit the International Co-op homepage. 
  • Fellow SFU alumni, Layla Clarkson interned at Canada's Embassy to Myanmar. Read her story, here.
  • Beedie Business student, Angie Yu, has tips on how she prepared for her interview for a positon with Canada's Embassy to China. 




Posted on September 25, 2017