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Stefano Schiavone

SFU Student Undergraduate
Arts + Social Sciences › International Studies
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op, Peer Mentorship › FASS Surrey Peer

This experience has given me a clearer understanding of my career goals and ambitions while appreciating the enjoyment and motivation obtained from working to support my country.
Experience Details
Application and Interview Tips

As with any other application, but especially so for a government position, it's crucial to fully understand all the details of the job description and how your skills and experiences best align with the role. Having that understanding, it'll be useful when crafting a resume and cover letter and, hopefully, an interview. It's also crucial to research the department or organization you're applying for to understand its mandate, how it might operate, and where it fits in more broadly to government and Canadian society. I'd suggest noting all this research down as it helps when you get to important steps like your interview.

Introduction + Preparation
Previous Experience

From my personal experience, I've found that while my previous experiences haven't provided direct assistance in my role at the RCMP, they have prepared me to adapt to it. My previous co-op helped me develop professional communication skills that have been very handy in client interactions, while my years of school have helped build strong research and writing skills that have been essential for my work. Indirectly, important personal skills that I've developed through work, school, and volunteering have also helped me develop a focused work ethic and understanding of how to approach different responsibilities. However, for both more general and specific parts of my role, I've been able to pick up what I needed to know through orientation and hands-on experience, especially the unique situations I've had to handle.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

I had a somewhat unusual start to my placement with my onboarding process taking a little longer than expected. However, a positive aspect of the delay was the opportunity to dive into a mountain of training material available to public service workers and RCMP employees. The training resources were clear and well structured, allowing me to thoroughly review both the mandatory information and topics aligned with my interests.

In addition to the training, I was fortunate to have a good support system around me to help with the adjustment to working, especially in an office setting within the government. I work alongside another Co-op student who's been great to get to know. We also have another member of our unit who's been incredibly helpful and patient in guiding us through our responsibilities, and we'd not be where we are now without their help. A previous Co-op student shared valuable insights into our experiences and what it'd be like if our positions were extended. Our manager, who's been incredibly supportive and helpful, has made sure to check in on us, both in those first few weeks and consistently throughout our time here so far.

Day to Day

My day-to-day work, thankfully, is quite manageable and straightforward. My main responsibility, alongside my Co-op colleague, is to convert old and outdated forms into PDFs as part of an existing project. We were provided with resources and a list of forms to work on, with a clear structure around it all to guide us.

Our main tasks include reviewing outdated forms and their different features/functions to understand their purpose and use cases. We then research and contact the respective owner or relevant currently-existing unit, and inquire whether to cancel the form or convert it. Cancellations are fairly straightforward with a handful of steps on our end, while conversions involve much more work from us but are enjoyable for someone like me who enjoys graphic design and problem-solving. Conversions also allow us to develop relationships with clients and support broader RCMP efforts to improve efficiency, modernization, accessibility, and supportiveness.

Cultural and Environmental Observations

One thing I've noticed here is the care and dedication people have towards their work. In my section, especially, there's a diversity of roles, responsibilities, and projects being worked on and, while there's a great deal of camaraderie, everyone's also focused on doing the best work they can to support the RCMP and serve Canadians. At the same time, there are also efforts to improve the RCMP and how it can better help Canadians. Our efforts are simultaneously focused on improving the present and looking towards the future.

Another aspect to note is the flexibility in scheduling. I appreciate having the freedom to organize my hours in a way that allows me to have every other Friday off, enabling me to work full-time while also maximizing my time to spend with friends. I never would have expected such flexibility from the RCMP.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the number of opportunities for socializing and extracurricular activities. Just weeks into our Co-op, we were invited to a mess event at the RCMP mess hall where employees go to hang out, have some food and drinks, and get to know each other more. We've also been invited to work outings like a snowshoeing trip at Mt. Seymour, and these have all helped us feel like we're an integral part of the RCMP and not just temporary Co-Ops.

There's also a great emphasis on extracurricular activities. I've enjoyed the chance to participate in intramural sports at the gymnasium or work out at the weight room for a break from computer work. It's honestly been incredible to see how flexible and welcoming the RCMP is with these sorts of activities.

Reflection & Tips
Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

The opportunity to work over an extended period for the federal government has been the most valuable aspect of my experience. I've long considered a career in government and felt both excited for this chance and slightly daunted by it as well. Thankfully, I've grown comfortable with the work and the organization and found that this is exactly the type of fit that I prefer - something that's flexible, allows for independence, within a structured framework, promotes collaboration, and contributes something meaningful.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

Although it doesn't fully connect with my International Studies degree, working with the RCMP and the federal government aligns with my interest in work that is both present and future-focused. It gives me fulfillment in my work and motivates me to contribute further.

For my career goals, this has been immensely helpful. Before, I was considering law school but wasn't fully invested in the years of schooling, the money it costs, and the actual work of being a lawyer (at least what I believed most job opportunities as a lawyer would entail). But, this experience has made me more strongly want to pursue a career in government, whether within the RCMP or elsewhere within the federal government.