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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

CAREER FLASH

Internship develops public service professionals

By Linda White
Special to The Toronto Sun


The opportunity to explore career options while earning a competitive salary was a dream come true for Lisa Trevisan, who sought a career that would allow her to bridge her love of biology with her interest in politics.

"I had fuzzy notions of what I was going to do with my degree," says Trevisan, 27. "I thought about policy work, but I didn't have a sense of how I was going to do that."
Through the Ontario Internship Program, Lisa Trevisan has been able to merge her love of biology with her interest in politics.


Things clicked when she heard about the Ontario Internship Program, which hires college and university graduates for two-year internships. Interns rotate through three eight-month assignments, introducing them to a variety of career paths.

"The goal of the internship program is to infuse the public service with new employees, bring them up through the ranks, educate them, employ them and retain them," says Garth Peters, OIP program consultant with the Management Board Secretariat.

"At the same time, our goal is to decrease post-graduate unemployment rates among recent university and college graduates," he says. "The program offers an opportunity to educate people in different areas of business and public administration and gives them hands-on experience...We're developing the public service professionals of tomorrow."

OIP was resurrected in 1999 after lying dormant for nearly a decade. It started off hiring 100 interns a year, a number that increased to 150 last year. In 1999, 72% of interns chose to pursue a career in the public service after successfully applying for jobs.

"It's an exciting time in the Ontario Public Service," says Peters, pointing to job opportunities made available because of a mobile and aging workforce. "For someone who's ambitious, it's a good time to fast track if they show the skills and initiative."

Candidates are interviewed based on the job specialty area they've chosen as a first preference on their internship application. They can choose from business and financial planning, communications, contract and service management, electronic service delivery, human resources, information and information technology, labour relations and policy development.

Positions are available in 22 ministries and central agencies located throughout the province. Applicants specify the geographical location in which they are prepared to work.

Salaries range from about $37,000 to $51,000 a year, depending on the specialty area. In addition to benefits, interns also receive funding for learning and development opportunities.

"The opportunity to try out a number of fields was really appealing," says Trevisan, who graduated from Queen's University in Kingston with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and completed her Master's Degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.

She is focusing on policy development and has worked with the Ministry of the Environment and the Cabinet Office (a central agency). She completes her internship in June with the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.

"The program is a fantastic opportunity to learn about public policy and how government decisions are reached," says Trevisan, who works in Toronto and is seeking a permanent position within the public service.

"There's a strong commitment among the interns to public service and to making a difference," she says. "It's work that is challenging and rewarding." To find out more, visit the Web site at www.internship.gov.on.ca.


(Linda White (linda.white@rogers.com) is a freelance writer based in Brooklin, Ont.)

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