City Hall Interns Blog (Winter 2017)

IPPSSA-Interns-Blog

The University of Ottawa’s location in Canada’s capital brings our students lots of opportunities to work in politics and government including political party headquarters, the offices of Senators, and the offices of Parliamentary MPs. Often forgotten in the shadows of federal politics, municipal government presents another tremendous learning experience. That is why IPPSSA is pleased to have given our students the unique opportunity to intern in an Ottawa city councillor’s office this semester!

For our first ever IPPSSA internship program, we received over 75 applications for a coveted 14 placements. Here are testimonials from some of our IPPSSA interns reflecting on their two months interning at Ottawa City Hall (scroll down or click on the name to jump to the intern’s blog):


 

Julie Parnell

 

IPPSSA intern Julie Parnell smiles with Ottawa city councillor Scott Moffat

Julie is in her 3rd year studying Political science and Public Administration

 

Where are you placed?
Scott Moffat – Ward 21

What excited you most about the internship program?
To get the view from the administrative stand point of municipal politics to understand a different side of Ottawa rather than the urban view I belong to.

What was your first day like?
Awesome. I technically had two. My first day in the City Hall office was very low key. I learned most of the administrative stuff such as answering calls, how to work the employee directory, and how to use the CRM database. My co-worker is amazing, so she made what could have been an intimidating day, very easy. On my first day in the Ward office, I was given a tour of the Ward and was introduced to all the people who deal face-to-face with constituents. Having the chance to work with them created such a different view for me of rural Ottawa.

What have you learned so far?
I’ve learned how different the issues are depending on which ward they come from. I’ve learned how to properly use professional databases and do correspondence appropriately. I’ve learned how much work realistically goes into municipal politics that most people do not see.

What is something surprising you learned?
Something I’ve learned that was surprising is how diverse Ottawa’s land is.

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment thus far?
Proudest accomplishment was for sure being able to stay on as a volunteer passed the end date of this internship. As well getting to know my coworkers and creating friendships with them.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
100%. It opens so many new doors, from connections around the city, to even just knowledge of municipal politics. It is a great program that if someone has the chance to experience it, I would highly recommend it.


 

Alexis Vanier

 

Alexis is in her 2nd year studying Political science and Public Administration

 

Where are you placed?
Councillor Allan Hubley’s Office

What excited you most about the internship program?
Being able to learn the inner workings of the municipal level of government.

What was your first day like?
It was great! My co-workers are the nicest people and really took an interest in me. Councillor Hubley went out of his way to help me learn as much as I can and attend as many meetings as possible.

What have you learned so far?
I have learned that municipal government really deals most directly with residents. The problems which they face are very visible and very local, and there is a lot of communication with individuals within the Ward.

What is something surprising you learned?
I was surprised to learn how involved my City Councillor is with his Ward. He hosts many events, is always concerned with the well-being of others, and will always do the best he can to solve any problem they face. Being a City Councillor is by no means a 9 to 5 job!

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment thus far?
My favourite memory is when Councillor Hubley brought me into his office so I could hear him speaking with several radio stations about the Opioid issue within his Ward. I found it extremely interesting how the radio hosts would react differently to his plan to stop the crisis. I really found out how passionate Councillor Hubley was about the issue when I got the opportunity to listen to him speak about it. Also, it made me feel very lucky to be placed in his office because I was able to listen to these issues first hand.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
Yes!!!!!


 

Jessica Early

 

JEARLYJessica is in her 1st year studying Political science and History

 

Where are you placed?
Mayor Jim Watson’s Office

What excited you most about the internship program?
As someone with essentially no experience in volunteering or interning with a political office, I had no idea what to expect coming into this internship. That being said, I was really excited to understand how offices like the Mayor’s are run, and how to be an effective member of their team.

What was your first day like?
My first day was kind of a whirlwind, in all the best ways. My supervisors introduced me to everyone and showed me around the office, I got to sit down and chat with Jim, and then went straight to work on ward research! Everyone in the office was extremely welcoming and eager to help me learn.

What have you learned so far?
I have definitely learned more than I expected. During my internship, I did a lot of research on ward issues, and that really helped me to improve my skills in that area. I also helped with (and therefore learned about) constituent correspondence, staffing the Mayor at events, and conducting meetings with community stakeholders.

What is something surprising you learned?
I was really surprised to learn about the amount of time the Mayor spends attending community events. He’s rarely in the office, instead attending ceremonies, ribbon cuttings, or even just leading a middle school class in a Day of Pink lesson. I didn’t anticipate his job to be so “on the go,” it’s amazing how he doesn’t ever get tired out!

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment thus far?
I really enjoyed my time interning in the Mayor’s office, and I am extremely proud to say that I will be working there full time this summer! I’m probably most proud of the fact that my overall work was useful and valuable enough for them to offer me this position, and I’m so excited for this amazing opportunity.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
Absolutely! I cannot understate how valuable this program can be for students who little to no experience in the political field, no matter what year you’re in!


 

Patrick Champagne

 

Patrick is in his 3rd year studying Political science and Communications

 

Where are you placed?
Mayor’s office – working with the Community Relations staff

What excited you most about the internship program?
Having grown up in Ottawa, I have been a supporter of our city’s leader for many years and I admired his presence in the community. I was looking forward to experiencing the busy schedule of a municipal leader and learning from everyone in the office.

What was your first day like?
My first day of work was quite enjoyable. After having set up my email and receiving my city of Ottawa ID, I got set up at a desk in the office and began to work on my first little administrative task. Shortly after, I was informed that the Mayor and other city councillors were heading to The Ottawa Mission to serve food for Valentine’s Day – I gladly joined Mayor Watson and got to meet a handful of councillors as well as many others while we gave back to the community and served lunch to the less fortunate. After lunch, I got to spend a bit more time with the Mayor and a few of his colleagues in the office. Although it wasn’t hard work, it was quite overwhelming, as there was so much to learn and so many people to meet. I was quite eager to get back to work again after a great day like that.

What have you learned so far?
I have learned so much about the city of Ottawa and about municipal politics in my short time working in the Mayor’s office. My first take away from this entire experience is that our city is so large and diverse and municipal politics deals with every issue

What is something surprising you learned?
The most surprising thing that I have learned during this internship is the number of people and roles required to coordinate the many facets of Mayor Watson’s office.

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment thus far?
I can’t say that there is one particular moment over the last few months that stands out against the rest, as my volunteer experience has been nothing short of excellent. The best part about this internship program is the fact that the people in the office are very welcoming and are all prepared to help me with any task at hand, and provide excellent feedback on my work.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
I would absolutely recommend this program to other students, whether they have lots of experience in politics, or have never been involved before. This program gives young students the best opportunity to put their theoretical knowledge into practice for a few months of volunteer work.

 


 

 Felixe Denson

 

Felix is in his 4rth year studying Political science and Public Administration

 

Where are you placed?
Councillor Jody Mitic’s Office

What excited you most about the internship program?
I was most excited to understand how the municipal government and the councillor interact with their Ward and the residents within. What are the most pressing issues that their residents face? How do they go about finding effective solutions to these problems?

What is something surprising you learned?
I was surprised to see how many residents use the Ward office as a resource to discuss issues they’re facing with Councillor Mitic and his team. It was really reassuring to see that residents had the option of having a face to face discussion with Mr. Mitic instead of phone calls or e-mails which are a lot less personal.

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment thus far?
My favourite memory thus far is actually my first day… I got to sit in on a Council Meeting discussing the second stage of the LRT project in Ottawa. It was really interesting to see the discussion process in person and helped me understand the project in a lot more detail. I’m still a little on the fence about the LRT project, but the discussion made me understand the importance of the LRT for Ottawa’s growth.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
I most definitely would!


 

James Collie

jam
James is in his 1st year studying Political science

 

Where are you placed?
Councillor George Darouze office (Ward 20)

What excited you most about the internship program?
I was most excited to understand how the municipal government and the councillor interact with their Ward and the residents within. What are the most pressing issues that their residents face? How do they go about finding effective solutions to these problems?

What was your first day like?
Great! Two members of his staff were on vacation, so it was a rather quiet day, the perfect way to get settled without being too nervous!

What is something surprising you learned?
That people LOVE contacting their councillor, but for all the right reasons! So many things like signs needed repairs, and fallen trees that otherwise would have gone unnoticed are so often discovered by the residents of the ward.

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment thus far?
Well, unfortunately, twitter did not approve my request to get the councillor verified, a true loss indeed. Therefore I would probably say that it would be making posters for events. It’s pretty neat to think so many people will interact with something you’ve created.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
Of course! Especially first years, please apply! It is a fantastic way of getting involved early on and just another example of how much IPPSSA can do for all who want to “get their foot in the door”!


IPPSSA interns Aamna Ali and Robert Ong photographed with City Councillor Shad Qadri in his officeuOttawa students Aamna Ali and Robert Ong were placed at City Councillor Shad Qadri’s office as part of the IPPSSA Internship Program this Winter 2017 semester. Here they are in his office!


Robert Ong

 

Robert is in his 1st year studying Political science and Public Administration

 

Where are you placed?
Councilor Shad Qadri Ward 6 – Stittsville

What excited you most about the internship program?
It’s the fact that I had the opportunity to have that hands-on, behind the scenes exposure to the day of the life of a city councilor. Frankly, I enjoyed going into the city councilor’s office way more than going to class, as it’s one thing to learn to learn from a textbook, but it’s quite another to learn first-hand.

What was your first day like?
The first day of my internship placement with Councilor Qadri was great. Once I was introduced to the rest of Councilor Qadri’s staff and my fellow intern colleague Aamna Ali at the city hall office, he invited both her and I into his office. While in his personal office, the councilor discussed some issues that are of importance to ward with regards to housing developments, infrastructure, public transit and parklands.

What have you learned so far?
Before coming to this internship, I knew quite a lot when it comes to municipal governance but I still learned some valuable knowledge during my internship placement. Perhaps the most important aspect that I learned was to be a representive politician, be it a city councilor or a member of parliament for both provincial and federal level, one has to have a certain kind of personality, patience and mindset to be successful in this field. Seeing Councilor Qadri interacting with his constituents often, it can go either positive or negative and being able to see the councilor be able to maintain his composure even through a negative experience stands out the most with me.

What is something surprising you learned?
Definitely the most surprising part I learned during this internship was how Councilor Qadri’s ward office in Stittsville was wide open and welcoming to members of the public. In a democratic society, elected representatives are supposed to be open to their constituents but Councilor Qadri took this to a really personal level. Whenever I go to the ward office, I often see members of the public just simply walk in to the office and talk to either the staff and/or the councilor himself. Most of those conversations, are not even related to municipal issues, but rather they talk about what’s going on in their daily lives, sports, weather and other non-political topics. This was for sure the most surprising aspect of this internship.

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment thus far?
My favourite part of this internship specifically was when I was tasked with doing research on transit commuter parking. As I have a personal interest around public transit issues, this was an issue that I was more than happy to do research on.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
I would definitely recommend future students to join this internship program, especially to for those interested in municipal politics and governance.


Aamna Ali

 

Aamna is in her 1st year studying Political science and Public Administration, with French co-op

 

Where are you placed?
City Councillor Shad Qadri’s office (Ward 6 – Stittsville)

What excited you most about the internship program?
I was excited to gain experience in an office setting and learn about what kind of planning, crime prevention, and public health measures city councillors are involved in. I was also interested in learning the importance and intricacy of their work.

What was your first day like?
For my first day, my councillor explained to me the various steps and procedures a councillor has to go through before he makes any decisions about planning and development. I was shown maps of Stittsville and the different forms of urbanization it is undergoing as it is growing to become a popular suburban area.

What have you learned so far?
I have learned many different factors that a councillor has to consider before making any executive decisions. I also learned that having various credentials and being a part of various different boards helps someone gain more recognition in their community. For example, Mr. Qadri is chair of both the Public Health and Crime Prevention Boards making him a well known councillor in the area that is working hard towards change. Another thing that I learned is that at the municipal level the Councillors have many opportunities to connect with the members of their community and maintain an interpersonal relationship with them while they are in office. For example, Mr. Qadri releases a newsletter each week to keep his residents informed about what events and changes are coming to their community. This allows the residents to always remain informed and feel more comfortable going to them with any inquiries they may have.

What is something surprising you learned?
Something surprising I learned is that it is not absolutely necessary to speak French in order to become a councillor or just an active member in the Ottawa community. I also learned that when making decisions about planning and different health and crime acts the Councillor’s have to think of the various future impacts and changes that their decision will bring to the community. Another thing I have learned is that residents are easily offended and use social media (such as Facebook groups) to express their distaste and anger towards various issues regarding their city. While the councillor and his assistants remain formal and professional, many residents do not express their distaste for a lot of issues in the same manner.

What is your favourite memory or proudest accomplishment so far?
My proudest memory was being able to attend a meeting held by Public Health Ottawa in regards to domestic and family violence that was held in the Councillor’s Chambers in City Hall. Many different members of private organizations that are passionate about elder abuse, teen substance abuse, and homelessness spoke at the conference and it was an eye opening and informative experience. This opportunity was appreciated and allowed me the opportunity to become more informed on various major health issues in Ottawa today.

Another favourite memory that I was lucky to be a part of is the Ottawa Public Health Fair that was held in Stittsville’s Ward Office, where we were able to help set up and be a part of the event that was planned by the Councillor and his office. The other intern, Robert Ong, and I were able to help with setting up, running the booth for the Councillor and handing out informational pamphlets to people about public health. Throughout my internship with the Councillor and his assistants I have learned a lot about the city of Ottawa and the various issues that may arise in the workplace.

Would you recommend the program to other students?
Yes, I would recommend this program to other students as it is a great way for IPPSSA students to get a foot in the door, and gain experience in a political setting. It is also a great way of networking and meeting people who are involved with the city, creating different contacts that one may be able to reach out to in the future, when they need the help or reference from a city councillor. Finally, if a student is unsure about the workings and levels government they are most interested in, this is an opportunity for students to test out the waters and see what kind of government they would like to be a part of in the future.


Contact Matthew Don Trapp or Marcus Mattucci if your office wishes to be apart of this internship program. Contact information below:

Matthew Don Trapp
Internship Director
(613) 805-0545
Matthew.don.trapp@gmail.com

Marcus Mattucci
IPPSSA 4th Year Representative
(647) 828-6491
rep4@aeeippssa.ca