Shahreen Shehwar

From coop to international internships, there are so many ways of customizing your experience and making it diverse and practical. Before starting my studies, I thought this degree would lead the way to just working in government but I realize now that it could lead to working in other domains as well, from humanitarian work to diplomacy. The Aboriginal Economics course was really interesting to me.

Sepideh Soltaninia

Graduated 2013, Honours BA in Development and Globalization (Co-op option)
Sepideh Soltaninia

March 2011 was a telling month in Syria. The events of that month - and those of the months and years that have followed - have defined a generation, not only in the Middle East, but across communities around the world.  In March 2011, I had only reached the halfway point of my education at the University of Ottawa. Much of that time had been spent outside of campus, doing field research in South Africa, at co-op terms in Public Safety Canada and CIDA, in the bustling classrooms of Bangladesh’s BRAC University and, that spring, in Paris.

I was completing my third co-op term in the French capital as an intern at UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning where I was receiving my first introduction to the UN system. Like most of my fellow students, I remember being aware of the events unfolding in Syria. But those were times of change in the Middle East, and Syria was another news story emerging, among many, from the region.

Today, almost four years later, Syria’s crisis is no longer an emerging catastrophe. 6.45 million internally displaced, 3.2 million refugees – these are unfathomable figures. For half of this war, I have worked for the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) office in Amman, Jordan, providing support to our six food assistance operations working to reach vulnerable Syrians inside Syria and across the region. Every month, we plan to feed 4.25 million people in Syria alone – a large effort made increasingly difficult by the evolving conflict. Through my work with WFP I have seen the impact of this war first hand –in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey – and have witnessed a region transform under the weight of this protracted crisis.

I started my work at WFP as an intern at the organization’s headquarters in Rome. It was the summer of 2012 and I was completing my internship as part of the University’s International Internships programme. By then, I had already finished an eight month co-op placement at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs’ Sudan Task Force, where I had conducted research on humanitarian assistance in conflict situations. The opportunity to intern at the largest organization fighting hunger worldwide- and one I had come across often in my research – was extraordinary. Following my internship and several months working in Rome, I was offered to join WFP’s Syria crisis response in Jordan.

The opportunity to be part of the humanitarian response to such a large and complex emergency, particularly so close to completing my university education, was rare; I realize this every day. Almost two years as part of the response to the Syrian crisis has not only showed me the value of my education but also my good fortune for having been able to complete my studies. Here, across the Middle East, refugee camps and cities are filled with Syrians who not only abandoned their homes, but their schools and universities, as a result of the war. When they will be able to return is still unknown.

(updated December 2014)

Shantelle Binnette

Graduated 2014, Honours BA in Development and Globalization
Shantelle Binette

I am currently working with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) as a Network Capacity Builder for partner organizations in Rwanda. In that capacity, I’m helping to strengthen the planning, reporting, monitoring and evaluation capacities of five organizations in Rwanda who are collaborating on a major food security/sustainable agriculture project funded by MCC and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. That work includes gathering input from stakeholders (participants, farmers, extension workers) to incorporate into the planning for the next phase of the project, and helping to design a monitoring system to capture and reflect all that is happening.

It's been both interesting and exciting to be a part of this process, and I've been learning much about the environmental and economic challenges to food security and agriculture amid the many variables of the Rwandan context.

My time at uOttawa has prepared me well for this new role. In my fourth year I completed an international internship through the Faculty of Social Sciences, and got to learn about project planning and proposal writing while working with a Ghanaian NGO in Accra. I use these practical skills frequently, but I'm also realizing how important it is to use the critical thinking skills developed while writing papers and in seminar discussions to analyze the macro- and micro-level power dynamics that create the context within which organizations operate. I also really appreciate the diversity of topics covered through the course of my degree, and the emphasis placed on development being an inclusive process that is motivated and driven by communities.

(updated December 2014)

Anca H. Paducel

Graduated 2011, Honours BA in Development and Globalization (Co-op option)
Anca H. Paducel

In 2011, I graduated from the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa with an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development and Globalization (CO-OP). That same year, just shortly after my graduation, I moved to Geneva (Switzerland) to pursue a Masters in International Relations and Political Science at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, where I am now in my third-year of the PhD programme (same discipline). Aside from working on my dissertation, which looks at how structured intergroup narrative encounters can reduce competitive victimhood among victims of armed violence in Burundi, I am the head teaching assistant for the Department of International Relations and Political Science at the Institute.

Looking back, the program in International Development and Globalization helped me in several ways to reach the stage at which I am now in my career. First, the program’s interdisciplinary approach provided me with the knowledge and skills (especially research, writing, and critical thinking) necessary to continue onto graduate school. At the outset, although I knew that I wanted to work in international development, I did not know exactly the area that I wanted to specialize in nor what type of work I would like to perform as a career. However, during the last two years of my studies, after having completed a number of courses across several disciplines, the area I wanted to acquire an expertise in (peace and conflict studies) and the type of work I saw myself doing (research / policy analysis) started to come together. The latter was especially a result of the CO-OP Program. The completion of four four-month work terms in Canada and abroad, in both the public and private sector (e.g. DFAID, the UNDP Country Office in Romania, and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies) allowed me to apply the knowledge and skills developed through my coursework, as well as to explore different career options.

Together, both theory and practice have equipped me with an international perspective and an ability to work in different environments with people from various cultures and backgrounds. Aside from having recently volunteered with a local NGO in Rwanda, I have conducted preliminary research in Burundi for my dissertation and will be returning to the field a few more times as part of completing my PhD. All of these things would not have been possible without the continued support and guidance provided by the professors at the School. Second, being located in the capital of Canada, I was presented with many networking opportunities through which I met various practitioners, policy-makers, and scholars in the field of international development from whom I have also received support and guidance along the way, as well as collaborated with some on projects in the area of peace and conflict.

(updated December 2014)


Ginette Gautreau

Graduated 2014, MA in Globalization and Development (Co-op option)
Ginette Gautreau

Like most students, when I was about to wrap up my MA degree, I started getting worried about my job prospects with every passing month (or maybe that’s just me, I am an obsessive planner!). I decided as I began writing my thesis in third year that I would start keeping an eye on job postings and apply here and there for those that appealed to me. I had completed all my coursework, and two co-op placements with DFATD and I wanted to set myself up for a smooth transition into my career.  The door opened for me in the form of an office manager position with the Humanitarian Coalition.  This was a decent entry level position, mostly administrative in nature, but it did a good job of drawing on existing knowledge of the field and skills that I acquired from my degree, as well as teaching me a few things about the backend of NGO operations.

From the get-go, I was always clear to my ED about my goals and interests: I wanted to learn more about the field of humanitarian assistance, to build on my skills, and to transition into programs management and away from the administrative tasks. I proved myself and he listened. Recently, I was promoted to Programs and Operations Manager and given a new set of files to work on and many forthcoming opportunities.

In fact, as I write this paragraph, I am sitting in a room full of humanitarians – from the military, NGOs, UN and government agencies. I am taking a course offered by UN-OCHA on humanitarian civil-military coordination. My ED encouraged me this year to learn and explore and to become more familiar with the world of humanitarian assistance. What surprised me most from this job is that so much of the learning and growing is happening in the peripheries of my job description: lunchtime talks, in reading reports, and in attending several meetings and events every week.

Today, a typical day for me doesn’t exist. There are some commonalities: an inbox full of emails and a number of meetings to attend, but while one day I may be reviewing a project summary for one of our member agencies’ response to the Ebola outbreak; the next, I am likely working on putting together the largest humanitarian conference in Canada, reviewing abstracts from leaders in the Canadian humanitarian sector, or maybe I am attending a Board meeting with the CEOs/EDs from our member agencies. In short, there is no lack of diversity, challenge and excitement in my current job.

While this world is quite different from my background in international development it is definitely not unrelated.  Without a doubt, my ability to think critically about the crises we were dealing with and being able to understand both the short term and the long term implications of poverty and conflict – key takeaways from my MA degree - are invaluable advantages in this field. Nonetheless, there’s a whole other world of lingo and acronyms I am still learning about…

(updated December 2014)

Sarah D'Aoust

Graduated 2012, MA in Globalization and Development; 2009 Honours BA in Development and Globalization (Co-op option)
Sarah D'Aoust

When I decided to pursue my studies in International Development at the University of Ottawa I wasn’t sure where I would end up! I hoped that eventually I would land a job that was related to my field of study, where I could have a tangible, positive impact. After undergrad, the job prospects weren’t very promising, so I thought it would be a perfect time to do my MA. I was looking forward to learning more about development, and doing some original research of my own.

Nearing the end of my MA the job prospects really hadn’t improved as much as I had hoped. From my undergrad co-op experience, I knew that the best way to get a job with the government was through student work opportunities. I got my start with the former Canadian International Development Agency through an FSWEP (Federal Student Work Exchange Program) graduate student position. After I graduated, I continued working for the department and eventually secured a permanent position. I am now working as a Policy Analyst at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development in the Global Issues and Development Branch. Since joining the department, I have been working on development and policy issues related to governance, and in particular natural resource governance. My education at the University of Ottawa provided a good foundation for working in development, and I apply the development concepts and principles that I learned during my studies to my work on a daily basis.

(updated December 2014)

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