Matter of Course: Public Policy Field Placements Open Doors for Political Studies Students
POST-4850H: Public Policy Field Placement
Dr. Devin Penner, Assistant Professor
Department of Political Studies
In a bid to empower the next generation of policymakers and bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience, Trent University's Political Studies department has teamed up with Careerspace to offer a groundbreaking experiential learning opportunity - the fourth-year Public Policy Field Placement course.
POST-4850H provides students with practical experience working part-time for a nonprofit organization or government office engaged in public policy. Hosts have included local members of both federal and provincial parliament, municipal offices, law clinics, community social service and environmental organizations, and policy think tanks such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
“The course allows students to put what they’ve learned about politics into practice. Instead of spending time in a classroom, students work roughly eight hours per week for an organization that is engaged in public policy,” explains Dr. Devin Penner, professor of Political Studies. “Students can build confidence in their knowledge by applying it in a real-world setting. They also have a chance to network and get some experience as they contemplate the transition from university to career.”
Instructors and the Careerspace staff work collaboratively to help students fine-tune their application materials, providing interview preparation and facilitating connections with potential host organizations. The dedicated team at Careerspace actively fosters community partnerships to enhance the experiential learning opportunities available to Trent students.
“For the last two months I have been working at Queen’s Park as the Executive Assistant to an MPP,” says Jenna DePaiva ‘18 (Champlain College), a Political Science graduate who took the course in 2022. “Without taking the field placement course I never would have found myself in the position that I am in now and working exactly in my field of study. It is still hard to believe I am working for the provincial government and get to walk into the Legislative Assembly every day.”
The benefits of the program extend beyond the learning experience, as many students find themselves readily entering their desired careers upon graduation. Professor Penner says that many students find opportunities after graduation because of their placement. Recent Political Studies graduate Dylan Cameron ‘19 (Champlain College) also took the course and shares, “It was a great experience and I got accepted into the Conservative Party of Canada internship program on Parliament Hill, which I am really looking forward to!”
While exclusively open to upper-year students at Trent, any qualifying student can express their interest in the course before the end of September and secure a placement in the winter term. The dedicated Careerspace team is ready to assist students in crafting resumes and cover letters, helping with interview preparation and applications to the organizations students aspire to join.
Posted on July 31, 2023