From May through July 2019 I participated in a traineeship with Trade and Economic Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Canada in Ottawa. It was an incredible opportunity that provided me with invaluable professional and personal experience and has given me an even greater interest in studies. My major is Economics and am double-minoring in Earth System Science and Environment, with the aim of pursuing graduate studies after McGill. I have always been curious about working with in public sector; my interests revolve around economic policy, trade, climate change, and environmental issues, as well as history and international relations. As such, I greatly appreciated the position offered through the Arts Internship Office.
The Delegation is a full-fledged diplomatic mission and is the primary point of contact between the European Union on one hand, and Canadian authorities, businesses, and media on the other. The Trade and Economic Section provides analyses for European Union headquarters in Brussels and liaises with Canadian officials, government departments, and businesses in various matters of trade, economics, climate change, energy, and innovation. As an intern, my main responsibilities were writing reports for Headquarters in Brussels on relevant economic and policy developments in Canada, attending monthly coordination meetings between the Delegation and the economic representatives of the EU member states, accompanying Delegation staff to various conferences with Canadian and European officials, and participating in the Delegation’s public diplomacy activities.
The most exciting part of the internship was attending meetings and conferences, such as a dialogue between EU officials and the Department of Finance Canada and a talk organised by the Dutch embassy on the potential of circular economy in Canada and the Netherlands, featuring a well-known Dutch expert on the topic. These events deepened my understanding of policymaking and allowed me to meet a number of accomplished and interesting people. The networking opportunity offered by these events is something I valued greatly. Participating in the Delegation’s public diplomacy was also a highlight of the summer. The most important event was hosted for Europe Day, the anniversary of the beginning of the EU. We prepared the venue for the reception of over 100 ambassadors and government officials, including McGill alumnus Minister Karina Gould, meticulously setting up EU, Canadian, and all member state flags, and served as hosts until all guests had arrived.
While there were many exciting and fun aspects of interning at the Delegation, the position came with a few challenges. The first was writing reports, specifically the way to research information. The style of writing and researching is different from what I was used to in an academic setting – information for reports had to come from Canadian government sources such as StatCan, or from international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and citing the source was done with a simple footnote. Given the huge amount of data available on these platforms, it took some practice to pick out the most recent and necessary facts. Thankfully, my colleagues were very helpful in showing me the best way to find and use the information in the reports. In more general terms, it took a couple of weeks to get accustomed to working a 9am-5pm office job with daily and hourly responsibilities. However, our incredibly friendly colleagues soon made us feel at home and had us working on interesting topics right away.
I will be receiving academic credit for this internship via a research paper (ECON 399). My paper, supervised by Julian Karaguesian, will look at the economic relationship between Canada and the EU and how that will affect our commitments to reducing the impacts of climate change over the coming decades. Topics I am most interested in exploring include the nature of trade, economic diversification, sustainable finance, and mutual collaboration on Paris Agreement targets. This internship had broadened by view of such topics and given me a much better understanding how policymakers and government officials communicate, work together, and follow through on agreements. I cannot emphasise enough how valuable the experience has been in helping me decide on graduate school and possible future career paths.
I would also like to thank Mrs. Mary K. Wemp, who’s generous donation of the Bryce Faculty of Arts Internship Award made this internship possible for me.