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Undergraduate Students - January 2009

The full version of the January CAPSScoop can be found by clicking here.


Articles in this edition

Working for the Feds - Great Career Opportunities

Advertising Yourself: 5 Steps for 2009


Working for the Feds - Great Career Opportunities

by Susan Molnar, Graduate Career Advisor

The Federal Public Service is Canada’s largest employer with 230,000 employees and over 1,600 points of service across Canada. It is also Canada’s most international employer with a presence in 115 countries around the world.

Almost 10% of public servants today are close to retirement, which means significant public service renewal opportunities for students interested in joining the public service as a career.

The structure of the government and its 23 departments are clearly summarized in the following chart as well as here. A list of departments and agencies can be found here and organized by subject here.

The Structure of Canada’s Research System, which includes the various non-profits and NGOs that are considered the federal government’s arms or agencies, can be viewed here.

Ways to Find Work in the Federal Public Service

Because the Federal Government is so large, it can be difficult to know how to find job opportunities in it. Below we describe the most common, as well as the less common, entry points to the Federal Public Service for students.

The Public Service Commission is an independent agency reporting to Parliament that works with departments and agencies to recruit and appoint qualified persons to the Public Service of the Government of Canada.

To view the job opportunities posted on the Public Service Commission of Canada’s website, click here.

The Post Secondary Recruitment Program

The Post Secondary Recruitment Program (PSR) provides entry-level officer positions to university and college graduates. Positions are available across Canada, in a variety of fields and work environments. You may apply to individual career opportunities or to the general inventory. The campaign runs mid-September to mid-October each year.

The Public Service Commission of Canada offers programs for university and college students who want to work for the public service while still in school. The Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) provides full-time students with work experience and learning opportunities that are related to their field of study. An information session about this program will be held at McGill on January 27th, 2009 in Room 5001 of the Student Services Building (3600 McTavish) from 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m.

The Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program

The Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program (RPL) is geared specifically for graduate students completing a Master’s or doctoral degree in any discipline.

The Research Affiliate Program

The Research Affiliate Program is specifically designed to give post-secondary students experience in applied research (design, execution, evaluation) when they must attain such knowledge and skills in order to graduate. Current opportunities can be found here.

Other Opportunities

Human Resources and Social Development Canada actively recruits McGill graduate students each fall to fill Policy Analyst and Research Analyst positions. Natural Resources Canada has a program to recruit policy analysts as well.


Some job opportunities may require that you write one or more tests. When testing is required, you will need to register on-line before the closing date of the job opportunity. For general test information go to http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/psr-rp/test-exam-gen-eng.htm where you will be able to link to the tests used here.

In our CaPS Resource Library, on Reserve at the front desk you can find the Public Service Commission Graduate Recruitment Practice Test (in English and French), which were printed out from http://www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/ppc-cpp/psc-tests-cfp/index-eng.htm, as well as the Foreign Service Exam Study Kit.

A handy list of reminders and tips for applying to the PSC has been compiled by our previous PSC Ambassador and can be found here.

Advertising Yourself: 5 Steps for 2009

by Natalie Coyle

As the New Year kicks off, there is no better time than now to put yourself first and to take responsibility for your career goals. Whether you are seeking a summer internship, a stint upon a cruise ship, or that pivotal first job, you can take matters into your own hands this year.

1. Update your CV and Cover Letter

A CV and cover letter are often the first point of contact between you and a potential employer. Before sending out a mass pile of generic copies, tailor each copy to the specific job. Watch out for spelling mistakes, grammar and formatting errors. Make sure you address your cover letter to a specific person, and use the letter as an opportunity to convey just how much you want the position. Show that you have researched the company and the industry, and can use your skills to help them achieve their goals.

2. Make a few cold calls

Identify someone within a specific company that you can contact. Devise a script in which you explain the type of career you are seeking and how you are interested in learning more about various career paths within this industry. Prepare a few questions to ask and conclude by asking if you might be able to meet this contact at a later time and date for an informational interview. The click of just a few buttons could lead to a new and important contact.

3. Expand your network

Remember that your network of contacts does not have to consist of CEOs or lawyers or doctors. If you are looking for a summer internship at a magazine, send out an e-mail to everyone in your contact list explaining your goal and asking them to kindly forward you a contact they might know if they can help with your search. Your roommate in first year might just have an aunt in publishing who can help you out, but you’ll never know unless you try.

4. Practice your interview skills

Take advantage of resources available here at McGill. Sign up for a workshop with CAPS, or book an appointment to see an advisor. These are valuable resources available right at your doorstep. Practice speaking fluidly and concisely, anticipate what type of questions you might be asked, and have a friend or family member ask you a few potential ones in advance. The more prepared you are, the better your interview will be.

5. Look Professional

So you’ve perfected your resume, written a stellar cover letter, bravely picked up the phone, booked three informational interviews and have met with a CAPS advisor to go over interview skills. Well, the key to sealing the deal is to look and act professionally. Appearance has a large impact on an employer’s first impressions. Black and white are always safe options. Opt out of excess fragrance, accessories or jewelry, and be sure to turn off your cell phone!

Preparation is the key to a successful new year. Always remember that the battle doesn’t always have to be so tough. With a few simple steps, you can take control of your goals and help make them a reality.


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