Public Policy Field Placement Provides Political Training Ground for Students
Several Trent students can now attest, time spent working with local government through a hands-on field placement brought them up-close to politics in action—and their potential future careers.
“This experience has taught me so much about the reality of working in municipal politics and expanded my network within Peterborough in a way that no other course has,” said Katrina McMillan, a fourth-year Political Studies student, who is also minoring in English Literature.
Unique public policy experience
Through the Public Policy Field Placement, a fourth-year Political Studies course, students immersed themselves into respective placements with City of Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien, and MPP Dave Smith of Peterborough-Kawartha, both of whom happen to also be Trent alumni.
The students prepared policy briefs and press releases, completed administrative work, attended meetings and shadowed officials as they worked with constituents. They also conducted independent research projects on key issues and shared their findings with those in charge.
“I was able to ask questions directly to the MPP, learn about what is required within this career, and test my research and analytical skills in a ‘real world’ environment,” said Aidan Bellamy, a fourth-year Political Studies and History student, who researched new transit in Peterborough during his placement.
“This experience is so important for anybody looking to work in public policy or in government,” affirmed Katrina. She examined application of policies in Ontario municipalities while working in the mayor’s office.
Real skills and real-world impact
During their placements, the students made connections and honed their research, time management and communication skills. They learned the inner workings of politics and witnessed how politicians discuss policy issues.
Ruth Wallace is a fourth-year student pursuing a joint major in Political Studies and Business Administration. She is now staying on as a volunteer after her placement in the mayor’s office where she studied parking issues in the city and worked on a virtual town hall.
She also helped to implement an Instagram LIVE project to enhance youth engagement.
“It’s been really exciting to work side-by-side with Mayor Therrien and watch the project come to fruition,” said Ruth. “It has been rewarding.”
A fresh future perspective
“I would highly recommend anyone interested in taking a placement course, to jump on it,” advises Aidan. “This amazing experience gives students the chance to propel their career ahead of schedule.”
“This course will help you start a career in politics and better understand the type of work you can do with a Political Studies degree,” reflects Katrina who hopes to work as a policy analyst after completing a Master of Public Administration degree upon graduation from Trent.
“This course is an investment into the future,” says Ruth who is considering a law degree. “I hope more people take advantage of the program.”
Learn more about Political Studies at Trent. Applications are still being accepted for September 2021.
Posted on June 28, 2021