Alumni

Since our program began in 2017, the NATO Field School has taught over 150 students, who are now studying and working in national and international security and defence, law, diplomacy, policy analysis, strategic communication, and many more exciting fields. Here is a selection of some of our alumni reflecting on their NATO Field School experiences has helped to guide their careers so far.

Joseph Waugh, MA
Developmental Policy Officer, Department of National Defence (DND)
NATO Field School 2019

I began my MA in political science at Simon Fraser University in 2018. Knowing my interest in international relations, my faculty advisor, Professor Alexander Moens, suggested that I attend the NATO Field School in summer 2019. I'm so glad that I did. This program gave me an intensive look at what it is like to work in the field of international relations and gave me a practitioner's perspective on topics of international security. During the program, I developed practical skills and experience that helped fill out my resume and prepare me to apply for jobs in the federal government. I have since been accepted into the Policy Officer Recruitment Program through the Department of National Defence and I will be starting an exciting career in national security in September. It is not an overstatement to say that I would not have gotten here without having attended the NATO Field School. If you are interested in international relations or international security, I highly recommend that you consider the program.

The Policy Officer Recruitment Program at the Department of National Defence offers talented individuals the opportunity to become effective defence policy officers. Since 1987, this prestigious program has accepted 200 individuals, many of whom are now in senior policy officer or executive positions in the federal government.

Chris Verklan
NATO Defense College Intern
NATO Field School 2018

I attended the 2018 NATO Field School in the final years of my undergraduate degree – travelling to Canada’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia, the NATO Defense College in Rome, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium, among other places. My experience on these excursions was incredible, and I gained many valuable insights on the functioning of NATO and the challenges it faces from soldiers and diplomats alike. In addition to the knowledge, I gained through this experience, the Field School provided me with a valuable opportunity to network with like-minded peers – many of whom I keep in touch with today.

The NATO Field School has added a new element to the field school experience, that being an internship opportunity at the NATO Defense College for members of its alumnus network. After being selected for this opportunity, I began my work alongside a senior military official that was tasked with developing a realistic, hypothetical hybrid threat scenario for the College’s Senior Course. As part of this project, I worked to incorporate emerging security trends and threats into the scenario and corresponded with leadership and other interns to identify and address issues arising from various drafts of the scenario.

I have since stayed on for another term at the NATO Defense College to help refine the scenario and further develop my professional skillset before returning to my graduate studies at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies. Overall, this experience, in addition to the NATO Field School itself, has enabled me to develop the professional skills and experience needed to succeed in the field of defence and security. As a result, I strongly recommend that anyone looking to do the same considers attending the NATO Field School.

Sam Nadeau
Junior Policy Analyst
National Cyber Security Branch - Public Safety Canada
NATO Field School 2021

I participated in the 2021 NATO Field School program as a fourth-year undergrad. While, unfortunately, COVID-19 prevent the in-person travel component, my experience in the field school was nevertheless the highlight of my undergraduate career. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking to pursue a career in security and defence or learn about international relations and diplomacy more generally. The virtual delivery was able to offer a fantastic collection of guest speakers - from senior officials to young professionals whose lectures, guidance, and Q&As offered uniquely valuable opportunity to explore the "real-world" of foreign policy.

What I expected going in to the NATO Field School was an intensive crash-course on international affairs and NATO. What I left with was a wealth of applied knowledge and context, but also the practical skills, experience, and network needed to work in the field. More importantly, I left with a much better understanding of the opportunities and career paths available to those interested in taking the first step into the otherwise opaque field of security, defence, or international diplomacy. As a result, I decided to pursue an MA in IR and apply for Co-op, where I was well equipped to land a Junior Policy Analyst position with Public Safety Canada's National Cyber Security Branch. In this position I have been able to regularly apply the context and skills I acquired through the field school.

Joshua Thomas Baker, BA
MA Candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
NATO Field School 2018

I am a current graduate student at The Johns Hopkins University – School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.  At SAIS, I am concentrating on Security Studies where I am focused on developing the necessary skillset and knowledge to work for the Department of National Defence and later with NATO. In May and June of 2018, I completed the SFU NATO Field School, and I am confident it was one of the best decisions I made as an undergraduate student. Before the Field School, I was studying at the University of Calgary, beginning my undergraduate thesis on the First Canadian Army in the Normandy Campaign. Though studying military history is a passion of mine, I became very interested in current international issues, such as the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia and the growing military presence of China in the South China Sea.

It was the NATO Field School that allowed me to combine my passion for military history and my growing interest in international security. While on the Field School, it became clear that if I wanted to work on the international stage, I would need to continue my education at the graduate level in international relations. The NATO Field School allowed me to develop an in-depth understanding of current contentious issues and how international organizations like NATO, respond to new threats, such as hybrid warfare, dis-information, refugee crises, and climate change. As such, my experience with the Field School gave me a competitive edge on my resume.

Jazlyn Melnychuk
Communications Officer, Department of National Defence
NATO Field School Co-Founder

After hosting a week-long Model NATO conference, Dr. Moens, myself, and another student realized there was a severe lack of access to the heart of decision making and immersive learning in the field of international security for students in Canada. What started as a mere concept and a passion to help students quickly became what you know today as the NATO Field School.

Co-founding the field school is my proudest accomplishment as it has given exceptional personal and professional growth opportunities to over 150 students since 2017. During 2017 and 2018 I was co-manager of the Field School, where I developed exceptional logistical, analytical, and communications skills that could not be learned in a regular classroom.

Since founding the Field School I have worked at the U.S. Consulate General Vancouver, the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Latvia, and the Department of National Defence. I am currently working in Public Environment Analysis at the Department of National Defence and am concurrently pursuing a Masters of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University. 

I would not be where I am today without the friendships, skills, and contacts I gained throughout my time with the field school. I highly recommend the program not only as a springboard into a career in international relations, but also as an opportunity for immense personal growth and lifelong friendships around the world.