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The Journey of a New Public Servant: Expectations vs Reality (FON3-V01)


This event recording features a diverse panel of new and experienced public servants, who explore the realities of being newly employed in the federal public service and how to manage the expectations and challenges when settling into this new role.

Duration: 01:00:12
Published: October 18, 2023
Type: Video

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The Journey of a New Public Servant: Expectations vs Reality

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Transcript: The Journey of a New Public Servant: Expectations vs Reality

[Eric Champagne, Katherine LeBlanc, Anandu Nair, Jerome Bilodeau and Sharnelle Morgan appear in video chat panels.]

Eric Champagne: Hello everyone. Welcome to this lunch panel as part of the CAPPA National Student Case Competition. My name is Eric Champagne. I am a Professor of Public Administration and the Director of the Centre on Governance at the University of Ottawa. And today I have the privilege to moderate this fantastic panel this afternoon. I am accompanied actually with four wonderful panelists whom I will introduce in a few seconds.

So hello everyone. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this panel discussion organized as part of the CAPPA annual case competition. My name is Eric Champagne. I am a Professor of Public Administration and the Director of the Centre on Governance at the University of Ottawa. I have been selected to moderate this panel today and am joined by four wonderful guests whom I will introduce in a few seconds.

Before going further, I would like to recognize that I am speaking to you from the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people. I want to express my gratitude to the generations of Algonquin people, past and present, as the original caretakers of this space I occupy today. I am very grateful to be here. I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am on traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people. I would like to express my gratitude to the generations of Algonquin people, past and present. They are the original caretakers of this space I occupy and I am very grateful to be here.

The subject of today's panel is a Journey of New Public Servants: Expectations Versus Reality. I would like to say that this panel is jointly organised by the Canada School of Public Service; CAPPA; Carleton University, and many other partners. And what I'm going to try to do with this panel is to draw from the experience of young professionals who recently entered the public service and get them to talk more specifically about their transition from being a student, to being a civil servant.

So, now without further ado, I would like to introduce our four panelists. Let's start with Sharnelle Morgan. Sharnelle is a Senior Policy Advisor working in operations at the Privy Council Office, leading the advancement of a number of social policies. Sharnelle is also the co-founder of the Canadian Black Policy Network, and Toronto Black Policy Conference, a not-for-profit organization aimed at creating a safe space for Black community members and allies to explore policy issues affecting Canada's Black communities. Sharnelle is passionate about creating equitable spaces and engaging in public policy. She is recognized as an emerging leader and was selected as a 2021–2022 Action Canada Fellow. She was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada for 2022 and as an RBC Future Launch Future Leader. Now allow me to introduce Katherine LeBlanc.

Katherine is a proud Acadian with extensive experience in the federal public service. She began her public service career in 2015 as a student, at Crown Indigenous Relations in Northern Affairs Canada. She is currently a Senior Program Analyst at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and co-chair of the New Brunswick Federal Youth Network. She graduated with honours in public administration from the University of Ottawa and has a master's degree from the Université de Moncton. If I may add on a more personal note, she is also a former student of mine at the University of Ottawa. We are very proud of the career path she has taken.

Next, I would like to introduce Jerome Bilodeau. Jerome Is the Director of the Building Division at NRCan Office of Energy Efficiency. He oversees there the delivery of programs and policies aiming to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Jerome also teaches energy efficiency policy at Carleton University. He sits on the executive of the Canadian International Council—National Capital Branch—and on the UN Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction Steering Committee.

Last, but not least, we have Anandu Nair with us today. Anandu is an IT advisor at Employment and Social Development Canada. He graduated with his Master's in Public Policy from the Munk School in 2021. He holds an undergrad degree in biotechnology from the University of Toronto. Anandu has worked as a Business Analyst for Rogers Communications and as a Junior Analyst for the Canada School of Public Service on various projects mainly focused on technology. He specializes in business analysis, project management, digital transformation, and service delivery. Here's what we're going to do today. I will take about 20 minutes to kick off the conversation with some initial questions, but most importantly, we want to answer your questions. So, at any time, you can use the Q and A button that you can see at the bottom of your screen. Write your question. We only take written questions, so write your question in English or in French. And I'm going to pick some of them to feed the discussion. So I will first take about 20 minutes to kick off the conversation with some initial questions. But most importantly, we want to answer your questions. So at any time you can use the Q and A button that you can see at the bottom of your screen. Write your questions in French or in English. I will pick some of them to fuel our discussion.

Now let's start with a very general question. I'll start with asking our panelists, what skills help you most in your transition from academia to the public service, and does the federal government provide any professional development opportunities? And I'd like to start with the same order, so Sharnelle first. What's your take on this Sharnelle?

Sharnelle Morgan: I think I would probably say that the skills that helped me the most were being able to - I graduated from the Munk School of School Public Affairs and Public Policy some years ago. And so, the degree that I took was really focused on writing. And so, I was able to write position papers within grad school and transitioning out of grad school into the federal public service, a lot of those same skills were required. It was really being able to write concisely; being able to research; and really to develop a coherent narrative or argument to be able to put forth into a paper that's going to be sent to senior management or a Deputy Minister.

I think I also relied on some of my work experience and volunteer experience, so really being able to engage within interpersonal skills working in teams that I developed throughout grad school, that same skill transitions to the workplace no matter what you're doing. If you have to reach across a different team or call a secretariat to grab information to really be able to lead on that deliverable. So, I would probably say just teamwork was one of the skills. Strong communication as well as being able to write effectively and concisely and to demonstrate an argument that translates from when you're working in grad school for your papers. The same thing goes on when you're in the workplace.

Eric Champagne: Thank you, Sharnelle. Thank you. I would like to turn to Katherine now. Katherine, what's your take on that question?

Katherine LeBlanc: Well, a bit similar to what Sharnelle said, the ability to write, to draft reports, to do research, sure, they're assets—skills that were needed from the beginning, in particular. In my case, the master's degree I did in public administration was a professional master's degree, meaning that we had no theses and no dissertations; we had to do an internship. So that was my experience, then... I lost...

Eric Champagne: You're back, I think.

Katherine LeBlanc: Can you still hear me?

Eric Champagne: Yes.

Katherine LeBlanc: You can? Okay. I can't hear you anymore. So as part of my master's degree, I had to do an internship, so this experience helped me a little. However, I would also say that on the rather learning side of the functioning of government that we are taught in our courses in public administration, political science, public policy, no matter what you're studying. It really helped me at the start of my career, especially to really understand the machinery of government and how the different departments work, the central agents, things like that. So I will say that those too are assets that we don't always think will serve us as federal public service employees, but I'll say it's a big piece.

Eric Champagne: Ok; thank you, Katherine. Now, Jerome, over to you.

Jerome Bilodeau: Yes, I think we may be repeating ourselves a bit, but my experience is that soft skills are just as important as technical skills. So as I see it, similarly, communication is absolutely critical. So being able to write in a clear and concise, precise and structured way is absolutely critical. We think it's enough; we think it's commonplace but it's not. I've spent a lot of time hiring people and I have to tell you that communication skills are much harder to come by than technical skills. Two other soft skills, I would say, that are critical are first of all to look at the big picture and therefore be able not only to understand the objective and the duties of a particular job, but also to understand the broader context, broader policies and what we are trying to accomplish. So it's quite conventional, I would say. At the start of my career, that was probably the case with me: to go into a little detail when you want to be able to demonstrate a more general understanding. Finally, I will also say interpersonal skills. One of the particular characteristics of the government is that it is enormous. It's the biggest organization in the country and so the best way to be effective is to be able not only to work with others, but also to know who to talk to and how to convince them to do certain things—and that is absolutely critical. So that's soft skills before technical skills.]

Eric Champagne: Excellent, Jerome. Thank you. Let's start now to Anandu, what's your take on this question?

Anandu Nair: The tough part about going last is to keep up with some of these amazing answers and, I guess, resourcefulness. One thing I would say is, it's kind of touching on what Sharnelle was talking about, is the ability to take a lot of information and compact it into digestible content. Because a lot of times your managers; your directors; ADMs; are very, very busy people and they don't have the time to read as much as you do. So, ability to gather a vast array of information and then compact it into something digestible, I feel is one of the crucial skills that I feel like you really hone in graduate school. You are often reading hundreds and hundreds of pages a week, and you have to be put in a situation where you have to compact that and make it understandable easily through decks or briefs or briefing notes.

Another thing I would say is problem solving. Often I feel like what distinguishes high calibre analysts is that they're told what the problem is by senior management or executives. And if you're in an advisor position, it's your job to come up with a strategy to address that problem. And ingenuity, I feel is one of the most powerful things that you can apply in your profession. Like, how do we fix problems? If you're a natural problem solver, then you will turn heads because you are able to find creative solutions to very multifaceted challenges. And I joke about this with my consultant friends all the time. I ask them, what's the skill that you guys really think that you see in your field a lot? They say, we're advanced Googlers.

And that's kind of funny, but it's actually really true. The internet has everything. It has all the information you'll ever need and the access to technologies at a scale that we've never seen before, so if you can really understand how to research, how to compile that information and apply to your advisor roles, I think you'll stand aside from the crowd. So, I think those two things.

The last thing I'll also say is, be bold. Not everybody might agree with this, but don't be scared. You're coming from academia. You're well educated people. You can think, you have critical thinking skills, so apply those thinking skills. I remember when I was working for the School, at the Canada School, I started my federal public career there. And I'll say this, it's completely different working at the School compared to any of these larger departments because it's so big, compared to the School. But one thing I noticed right away about the Canada School of Public Service is that you'll have that relationship with your senior management and executives that I don't think you'll really get at any other department. And they didn't pay me to say this, I just genuinely feel like that because I started my career there. But be bold in the sense that, ask really, really good questions. I guarantee you other people in that meeting have the same question, but if a DG is talking, or a Director is talking, sometimes there's this kind of facade that you can't ask questions. No, ask the questions because if they can't provide answers to your questions, it's clearly a gap and you might be the one that found that gap. And then people would be like, okay, maybe what does this person have to say about this, because they ask really, really good questions. And I think that's also becoming a part of bold, to have that confidence to ask those tough questions. And never feel bad about the questions you have, because I guarantee other people will have the same questions as well.

Eric Champagne: Lovely, Anandu. And something I take from your answer is the importance of soft skills in how you apply your competencies on top of your special technical skills, so that's very interesting.

A real great kickoff, and I'm seeing a few questions in the Q and A, keep sending your questions. Keep sending your questions. We'll answer them in a few minutes. But for now I'll move on to another question, if I may. I will ask the second question that we've planned for and I'm sure that's going to be of great interest for our participants. So, do you have any advice on the application process and how one can stand out from the other applicants when you apply in a for job in the civil service? And I'll do the reverse order this time. So, Anandu, be the first to answer that question. Go ahead.

Anandu Nair: I think one of the things I've had to grapple with myself is that even though I might seem very extroverted, I am an introvert to the core. I'd rather stay home with my family rather than just go out and do stuff. That's just me personally. One thing I've had to learn throughout my professional career is that you have to be extroverted to get those opportunities. People need to know who you are and what you're able to bring to the table when you apply for these positions. And these positions are very, very competitive so getting that extra edge in terms of networking and talking to people, putting yourself out there, going to events and actually showing people who you are, that's a big component of job hunting. That's one of the lessons I've had to teach myself because I've had to tell myself, or teach myself the skills to actually go out, talk, communicate confidently.

And I think that kind of translates to all other aspects of your life, including finding a career and then also shining in that career. So, getting the skills to, even if you're an introverted person, make sure people know who you are and what you're able to bring to the table. You literally have to market yourself to potential employers. So, that's one thing I would say.

Another thing, in terms of government process, they're very detail oriented. They're looking for very specific concrete examples. And you can't be lazy in the application process. I'm sorry, it's a lot of effort. It takes time, start early. Start early as possible and chip away at it little bit by little bit over the weeks. Because they're often asking for very, very specific examples where you have to list the situation; what the task was; what the action was; and the eventual actions that led to the result. And those kinds of questions often take a lot of time to think about and you have to think through them thoroughly before you answer. It's a very heavy loaded process, but I feel like if you actually put in the effort in terms of preparing early in advance that you'll be able to reap the rewards.

Eric Champagne: Thank you, Anandu. Now I would like to ask Jerome if he has any advice on the hiring process or on how to stand out from the other applicants. Jerome?

Jerome Bilodeau: I'll answer in two ways; first the process and then once you've gone through the process. First of all, it's important to understand how the process works and I've seen quite often a lot of people who were very qualified but did not get through the process because they thought it was an interview or a process similar to that in the private sector. The federal process is completely different. It's very rigid, very strict, very standardized. So the first thing is to accept this reality, understand it and find yourself a coach. Find someone who has done this kind of process before and ask them how it works and how it's different. They will tell you that you have to use the same words that are in the job description; they will tell you that you have to give examples like Anandu just explained. They'll explain everything to you. So it's really critical to play the system game before you even think about the next step, I'll tell you. So be realistic about the process—yes it takes time, yes it's hard and it's long and very different, but it's really important to play this game and really face reality. First thing. Once you've gotten through the process and are in the system, now it's more like in the private sector: you can talk to managers. To set yourself apart I would say that there are two, three things. Anandu mentioned something earlier. One is to be proactive, so maybe the managers will contact you directly, but it's much better and preferable if you make the first move. So my advice to many people is to study GEDS. I don't know what GEDS is in French, but it's the federal employee directory. Learn to understand who is who, who does what, and write to them. Write to them directly; say "I would like to meet you." I qualified. Do you have time next week? Be very specific. So afterwards, once you're able to meet the person, then you can demonstrate your value; you can demonstrate your skills and your interest in the position. That's where the other stuff—your experience, your subject knowledge, your context knowledge, and your communication skills that we talked about earlier—that's where it can shine. However, you understand that there's a whole process before you get to that, so you really have to be careful about all those steps as well.

Eric Champagne: Ok; thank you very much, Jerome, for that wise advice. Now, Katherine, would you like to add anything about this? Thank you.

Katherine LeBlanc: Can you hear me?

Eric Champagne: We can hear you very well.

Katherine LeBlanc: Perfect; thank you.

Eric Champagne: You seem to hear us too.

Katherine LeBlanc: Yes, I can hear you fine. Well, Jerome and Anandu pretty much covered what I would have offered, what I would have given as tips—as tricks. One of the best pieces of advice I got—and it kind of repeats what Anandu said—was to answer questions. If the question asks you what colour the sky is, describe the sky: it's blue, it has white clouds, it has a yellow sun. You know, sure enough. Then when you think there either isn't any or there's too much information, there's probably not enough. So you really have to put in a lot of information, and that's how you manage to really stand out, because there your application is complete, then the people who review it can say, "Ok yes that person is qualified or we think that this person would be qualified for the position." So it's really answering questions and then it's in the application when you submit something online and in your interview process, for example, or even exams, things like that. So the interview... to use... to be prepared... Often in the government we are given a little time before the interview with questions to prepare ourselves, to find examples, so they are not questions like those asked on the job. So it's to take the 20–30 minutes that you are given to really prepare your answers well, and Anandu mentioned it in his answer as well: to use a structure. Situation, task, action, result. So really to follow a structure then to correctly answer those questions. So if you follow that, then usually with the person evaluating your presentation or the interview, you will definitely stand out. From having already been on the other side of the table, it is certain that applicants who answer questions like that are much easier to assess and to determine whether they have the abilities or skills for the position that they are seeking. To add a little to what Jerome was saying about once you're in the public service, it's often said that it's big, it's huge, that there are endless opportunities in the federal government. So once you're there, it's to network, to meet people. You participate in panels like that sometimes and you hear someone speak, then you say to yourself, "It'd be some interesting to see what this person does or it'd be interesting to work with this person because they come to me to seek my knowledge or to find out what my interests are." It's about not being shy, but being specific and asking your questions with as much detail as possible when you communicate with those people. Often people who participate in panels—I'm not going to speak for my fellow panelists here—but I know that in my case if anyone wants to reach out to me I have no problem receiving questions. Often the people who put themselves forward like that are people who are open to having discussions with you to answer questions. Those are the suggestions I will have for people who want to get into the federal government.

Eric Champagne: Excellent, Katherine. Thank you very much. I have no doubt that you will receive many requests from our participants and it's to their advantage to be here today for our discussion. Let me turn to Sharnelle. What would you say, Sharnelle, about how to apply and how to stand out from other candidates? What's your take?

Sharnelle Morgan: I feel like my colleagues mentioned all the really good stuff and all the key important ones. And I feel like I'm left scrambling. I was trying to take notes and trying to see what else I could say. But I really do agree with Jerome and Katherine, that these competitions are merit based and they are very standardized. And so really having detailed responses and as Katherine mentioned, using the star, the method, situation, tasks, action result, and answering your questions would really help you.

The first time that I started to do these job applications, you kind of feel silly as you're writing it. If you feel silly, that means you're on the right track, you're really breaking down every step and you're like, well, this seems basic. Why did I have to explain how did I research?

But you want to show, what did you do to research? So, you looked at secondary literature reviews, or you looked at reports. You really have to be super specific, because they are merit based, they really need to be able to say yes, check mark. Or those who are evaluating it say, yes, they clearly demonstrated how they conducted the research, how they analysed. So, that's just something to kind of keep in mind. If you feel silly writing it, it might be you're on the good track.

Again, like Katherine and Jerome both mentioned, network and connect with individuals. So, if there's a job that you're really interested in or position or a level and you know someone who is at that stage, really go and just have a coffee chat with them. I have coffee chats to this day, and I don't think I'll ever stop having coffee chats, I think they're so informative, and just kind of pick their brain. One thing someone told me, and I think this is so true. People love talking about themselves, <laugh> so when you really reach out to ask for advice, they're really honoured to share their experience. It's rare that I've ever had someone say no, so really rely on that and just reach out.

Two things that I would probably say that I don't think were mentioned. Rely on all your experience, don't discount anything when you're applying to, again, speaking in the federal public service sense, count it all. Count your volunteer experience; count your education experience; count your work outside the public service or whatever it is. Don't discount it. And oftentimes, I remember when I first started, I was hesitant to put on things I did maybe that weren't necessarily considered professional, or wasn't paid work. But those experiences really helped me to be able to get screened into those job processes, so count all your experiences.

And then the next tip I would say is, you'll start to realise that a lot of the questions are quite similar within the public service when you do job applications. So, I literally have a folder on my computer where it's titled GC Jobs, so Government of Canada jobs. And, when I'm done answering the questions in the application, I save them on a Word doc and I just put them in a folder, because oftentimes I could reuse or use that as a good template and build on it. So, your experiences will always stay the same, or your skillset, but they'll likely be enhanced and improve over time as you're climbing the ladder up. And so, your responses will be more detailed but you still want to be able to kind of keep a bank. Can I say that? Because it will save you half the time when you're applying to jobs the next time around because you have a good template and then all you have to do is just really build on it and expand to ensure that you're meeting the criteria as set out in the application.

Eric Champagne: Lovely, Sharnelle, thank you so much. Well, I'm going to myself you can expect that I'm going to schedule a little coffee chat with you. I learned so much from what you're saying and from all the panel and I take a few things as a lesson learned. First of all, everything counts. At your age, everything is important. Something you don't think can be important, can be important. And I really appreciated your advice to be proactive. Be a little bit more proactive to try to distinguish yourself from other people. Keep sending questions. We have a few in the Q and A. I'll take some now.

Eric Champagne: I'll take a few questions from the crowd, from the participants, and I'll start with the question from Kirian [INAUDIBLE]. Kirian is asking, when you are in the process to be bridged from a student position to occasional IT 2, how do you bring up and negotiate your pay increment? Can I possibly get IT 2 above level one? And how and what can I bring it up? I am a grad student with a few years past working experience, so I'm hoping to get higher level in the pay increment.

For me, that makes sense to start with Anandu. I think you have a little bit more experience in the IT world. So, I'll start with you and if any of our panelists wants to pitch in a few ideas, I'll give the floor to you. Anandu.

Anandu Nair: I think it's very situation specific. For example, if you're bridging from your current team to an IT 2 at a casual, then your manager clearly has been working with you for that semester or two semester or whatever it might be, so more of a candid conversation can be had about where you should be getting paid at what step, depending on the skillset and the calibre that you've been able to display in that time that you've been working with that team. But I also feel like outside of that, when you're having this conversation about being bridged into a position, I think managers as far as I've seen, they have to really make the case about how your experiences are tied to that level that you're trying to get bridged to. So, your manager could really, really like you, and you might be a great analyst or an advisor, but at the same time they have to make a case about why that pay increment is required, based on your experiences.

But I feel like having a genuine candid conversation where you can sit down, be honest and show, these are the X, Y, and Z that I've done. Compared to the market, this is what I think I should be getting paid based on my experience. That conversation should be candid. Because if you don't have that conversation, and this applies to any jobs anywhere, if you don't feel like you're being compensated at the level that you think you should be compensated, that's not a good way to enter a new job, because then you're going to feel like, I'm getting slammed with a lot of work now and I'm not happy with where I am because I don't feel like I'm getting paid what I need to be getting paid. And that's not a good way to start a job, any kind of job, in my perspective. You deserve to actually give that opportunity to try and get what you think you should be getting paid and having an honest conversation, regardless of the level, or classification. I don't think it's just IT limited.

And I think any of the panelists would agree this applies to all the categories, all categorizations and classifications. Having that genuine conversation, rather just being anecdotal. I don't think anecdotal really helps in that situation. I think I should be getting paid this because I feel I'm a good person. No, that is not how it works. You actually have to have an argument when you come to the table saying, what you have done, and why you feel like that should be something you should be recognized for. Hopefully that helps. Eric?

Eric Champagne: Excellent, Anandu. Thank you. Thank you very much. Anyone else want to weigh in on that specific question? Anyone else want to jump in? I see Jerome has his hand up. Jerome?

Jerome Bilodeau: I'll build on this a little bit in English because the question was in English. The short answer is, just ask. What I would add though is that you may not get it, so just be ready for that. And if you don't get it, still take the job perhaps, if it makes sense for you. And, and that's the key thing, start applying for higher level jobs. Start applying for an IT 3 because we just talked about how it takes a year to go through the whole process and might be longer than that. So, that's general advice as you should always be applying for the next level so that when the time comes, you're ready or you have a bit of leverage. So short answer, just ask, but be prepared to get perhaps a yes, perhaps a no.

Eric Champagne: Thank you, Jerome. Does anyone else want to speak? If not we can move on to another question. We covered the topic; thank you very much. The second question is anonymous. How important has networking been early in your public service career? How can students, and those outside of the federal government, network in a virtual environment? I'd like to start with Katherine maybe. [33:46 because you've already opened the door, I'm thinking of networking... so you have the floor.

Katherine LeBlanc: Thank you. Yes, networking has been and continues to be a very important part of my career. I believe that since I started in 2015–2016, I got all but one of my jobs through networking.  So I've had about four different positions in the past few years, but there's only one where I went through a formal process: interviews, exams, you name it. The others were either I met people in different sessions or shared my résumé. So networking has been a very, very, very important part of my career. So that's it. If anyone wants to hear it, I encourage them to do so. Then for students there are several opportunities within and outside the federal government. There are groups that organize things, virtual networking opportunities throughout the year; I will share some resources with the panel organizers if it's possible to share with the participants. If not, then it kind of goes back to what we were saying when we were answering the question about the application, then in government it's finding times or finding people who do the same kind of work that you're interested in, then communicating with these people. So use social media platforms. There are a lot of civil servants and a lot of managers who are active on platforms like LinkedIn, so it's easy to communicate with these people. So just send a message and say, "Hey! I have this experience here; could we discuss it?" So there are those platforms. There are platforms whether it's Twitter, whatever; there are also groups on social media platforms like Facebook where positions are posted and then there are people there who are looking for employees. That's it; you don't have to do much other than raise your hand and try to communicate with these people. So I would say that's it, so trying to be active and then finding people on social media platforms. Then as I started to say, there are agencies within the government that organize events like that and then often we extend invitations just from local universities and colleges for students to come and join us. We don't have a lot of people coming, so it might be an opportunity to come and introduce yourself. That's what I would say for networking.

Eric Champagne: Thank you, thank you, Katherine. I'd like to ask Sharnelle; do you have any advice regarding networking and career development? Do you want to weigh in on this?

Sharnelle Morgan: I will say that I think Katherine covered a really great portion of some of those key points about networking and career development. I think one thing that I'll add is, for those who are maybe already in the public service, there's a lot of communities for young professionals. So, the YPN, the Youth Public Service Network, I think is what it's called. And it's really to encourage new - it's really about - it's not necessarily young. The organization or communities or network is really about bringing together new public servants. So, you can have a new public servant in their thirties or forties, but it's nice because you have that community to really bounce things off and ideas off of.

But I agree. It's really kind of being able to reach out and to have those coffee chats. I think it's about, if your respective school at the moment, your grad school or program, has opportunities where they're hosting events and they often bring speakers from the public service to speak at a particular topic, go to those events.

I think when you're in the workplace as well, despite me seeming maybe like an extrovert, I actually like be to myself and I found that I had to force myself to go to the work socials <laugh>. You know, they're really important because that's where you get to meet your colleagues and get to know a little bit about them outside the workplace. When you're in the work setting, it's sometimes go, go, go and you can't always have the moment to really connect and see if they went skating on the weekend. But the work socials allow you to kind of get out of that office environment to connect with your colleagues on a different type of level. I would encourage you to take advantage of those opportunities when they do come up.

Eric Champagne: Hey, thank you Sharnelle. And if you don't mind everyone, we going to go through other questions because we have a lot of questions, so we'll try to accelerate a little bit just to cover as many, and I apologise in advance. I see the pace of questions coming in the Q and A box, and I'm afraid we're not going to be able to cover them all.

But I have a question. Let's say for Jerome here, because I know you work in an organization that does research. So, the question is, is it mandatory to know French for research intensive jobs in the government? I guess that should be the question to you?

Jerome Bilodeau: The short answer is, it depends, but mostly no. So, the federal public service is a big place. So, in parts of the country, maybe French is the requirement, but if you're in the National Capital Region, usually for entry level and even mid-level positions, English is the one that you'll see more commonly. Where French becomes required is when you reach a management level and higher.

So, in my organization, as soon as you have supervisory duties, you need to have some level of bilingualism, at least according to the test. And of course, as you become an executive and higher, you need to be bilingual, but it's certainly not an impediment, I would say. And I would encourage people who don't yet speak the second official language to apply. And then you have opportunities to learn, either on the job or through professional development opportunities, or on your own. And simply it's only when you're trying to go a bit higher that you'll need both usually, so I don't see that as a deterrent. I know a lot of people hear us speak French and they're like, oh no, I'm, I'm really nervous. I'm not sure if I can do this or not. You absolutely can, and I encourage you to join.

Eric Champagne: Thank you, Jerome. I think it does answer the question quite properly. I have a question from [INAUDIBLE] here, but I think it covers some of the answer that Katherine has answered a little bit earlier. Maybe someone else wants to weigh in. The question is about, how can people use social media help find a job? Have any of you found a position through Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter or another one. Anyone else wants to weigh in on this? Anandu, have you ever found a job on LinkedIn, for instance? What's your take on social media?

Anandu Nair: I think social media's really, really powerful in terms of networking and hiring. I personally have only been in my position for a year and a half, so I'm not really looking for other jobs, but there's tonnes of groups. IT groups; GC policy; formal/informal groups; administration groups. There's tonnes and tonnes of groups on Facebook, and I know plenty of friends who have moved on to higher positions because they qualified in a pool first. And hiring managers will go into those groups and say, Hey, I'm looking for an EC 4, an EC 5, English essential, bilingual, whatever it might be. And they will just reach out to those hiring managers through Facebook and get opportunities that way.

So, I definitely recommend people to join those groups, keep an eye out for those groups because I think that's completely changed how hiring has happened. Even in my groups, whenever we're thinking about recruiting new staff, one of the options that people always say, oh, why don't we just make a Facebook post? And when we do, we have more than a hundred people reach out. And in my personal experience when I've made one of those postings, it is a lot faster to get qualified applicants at hand than some of the other mediums that are more traditional.

Eric Champagne: Hey, thanks Anandu, and I must say I'm on LinkedIn myself and I always repost interesting job opportunities in my field. I think it's the right social media to do this. At least that's my understanding of that, amongst all of them.

Now, let's move to another question that is relating to one of the things that I think Sharnelle had said. During your earlier presentation, you mentioned about, write down all of your experiences. Were you referring to the questions they ask in the GC job application? Is it true that we can only have two pages max resumé, hence we cannot pool all of our experience in a resumé, so can you solve that real practical problem, Sharnelle?

Sharnelle Morgan: For sure. So, as mentioned from before, the government has a very unique and special process, so it's actually a multi-step, I think I'll answer the first and hopefully be able to answer the second. I don't even know if we actually can do this, but I essentially take the questions that they ask and I copy and paste those questions into a Word document, and that's how I'm able to kind of answer or work on the application. There is a system on the government website that you can work off of, but they time out. If you don't save right away, you can lose your responses. So, I think a common practice amongst those who are applying to government jobs is that they'll kind of work on a separate document where they'll copy and paste the questions and then they're able to take their time without the timing on and off from the actual application.

Now, in terms of your resumé being two pages, when it comes to the federal public service, you'll be asked to upload your resumé to the job portal website. And it's kind of tricky, I don't know if they've changed it now, but generally it's a copy and paste, that's how it works. It's not the most pretty format that you're used to on your Word document. It really does distort a lot of things. So, in that case, I don't think there is a limit because there's not necessarily pages now, in general, about whether a resumé should be two pages or not. I think there's going to be varying views. My fellow panelists might have varying views. I say try to keep your resumé really tight with important information. That's not to say that your resumé can't run longer than two pages, but if it does run longer than two pages, you've got to really justify to make sure that every experience listed on there is really going to be a value add and really sell yourself to that employer.

If it's something that isn't necessarily useful or you think won't necessarily be value add, or catch your potential employer's eye, maybe you'll move it off. I think that's a judgment call that you would have to make. But speaking for myself, my resumé, the longest it has ever ran has been three pages. And it depends on the job I'm applying to. And if I need to add that detail and rigor because it's competitive and I know what they're looking for, then I'll make that judgment call, but my resumé tends to fluctuate depending on the job I'm applying for. It's a tough question, but I would say generally, give or take, I think two pages should be the appropriate lens. Anyone want to disagree with me? <Laugh> Any colleagues want to disagree with me? <Laugh>

Eric Champagne: I don't see any disagreement here, Sharnelle, so we're okay. Maybe we can move to the next question. To respect the linguistic balance, I will ask a question in French. The question is from Nessan. He says, "Hello, thank you for sharing your experience. Do you need to be qualified in a pool to start a career in the federal government? And other than applying to postings on the Government of Canada's GC Jobs site, are there other ways to qualify in a pool?" And I'd like to ask Katherine the question first, and then if there are others who want to step in after... I have a feeling you're pretty well-versed in the process. So, Katherine, over to you.

Katherine LeBlanc: No, you do not need to be registered in a pool or to be qualified in a pool to get in. Of course, this is one of the ways of applying for jobs in pools, then these pools are often open to several managers. So there are several chances even if there is just one position to be filled for that pool. It is still available to other people looking for employees. So it's never a bad thing to be present in or qualified in a pool. A pool can also serve as a bit of a map to walk you from place to place. Saying to some managers, "Hey! I am qualified in this pool here. It's not in your organization, but it's at the same level as what you're looking for. So I have proven that I have the skills." So being in a pool is not bad but it can be difficult, and it can be complicated especially when you try to get into the government. If I start from my personal experience, I got into the government as a co-op student and when I finished my master's degree, I was...I used the word earlier, bridged.There isn't really an equivalent word in French for bridging, but we use the English expression. It's transferring from a student role to a more full-time role. So that's how I got in. That was how I got into the federal government as a full-time employee. There are people coming I mentioned earlier...I feel like I'm repeating myself...just doing a reach-out, communicating with managers they met in such-and-such a situation. It can be in any networking session. Maybe you met someone at the grocery store and they mentioned that they were looking for someone. Or someone you went to college with. So there are ways to get people into the federal public service without them being officially qualified in pools. It depends on the department. In the departments where I worked, the human resources team was always quite creative. It allowed you to look for people in different ways. But there are other departments where it's a little tougher. So it really depends on who... on what door you're going to knock on. I will say that there are several other ways to get into the public service. I know Jerome is a director, so I don't know if he has more to add on that.

Eric Champagne: Jerome, did you want to add anything to that?

Katherine LeBlanc: Yes, I'm putting you a little on the spot, Jerome.

Jerome Bilodeau: No, not really. I think you covered the topic well. There are several ways to get in: either by checking competitions or as a contract or casual employee...a temporary, limited thing. It's done with networking and we talked about different things whether it's Facebook, whether it's GEDS (SAGE), whether it's more organic networking. Then there is obviously bridging, so students who can go from student to employee. So those are the three methods—types of methods. So what I'm suggesting is to do them all at much as possible.

Eric Champagne: Thank you, Jerome. I think that answers that question nicely. The next question is from Nicholas [INAUDIBLE]. My question, I feel as though I'm underqualified having studied political sciences, and now doing public policy and public administration. Would you recommend a background such as a certificate or additional courses that might make me a more desirable and well-rounded candidate? It seems that the knowledge in school still has me lacking in some ways, so what would you recommend someone to do well-round and well-verse themself to now become a part of the workplace?

Anandu, would you like to start kick off this response? You've got a background that is not necessarily the more traditional. Let's kick off the conversation with you. For a public management job and this relates to public political sciences and public administration, but what's your take first?

Anandu Nair: For sure. I'm actually doing my PMP right now. One of the things I think is really important is to keep elevating yourself throughout your career. Just because you do a master's, or a PhD doesn't mean there's isn't other stuff that you can learn. So, up-skilling yourself, because the job market where we're heading, it's becoming very, very competitive so you need to be up-skilling yourself constantly in your job, as well as through other avenues.

Back to the question, it really depends on what kinds of jobs you're applying for. For a lot of these program management or delivery jobs, certifications are really, really valuable. That's been my past experience as well. But for example, if you're trying to do something in product management, a CSPO certification might be really valuable. And I'm strictly speaking from a digital and technology perspective. There's a lot of qualifications, especially when we apply for these IT pools, that they look for. They'll specifically say PMP is an asset, or a CSPO is an asset. And what they're basically saying is it's not required for the job, but if you have those certifications, it makes you a valuable candidate.

So, I think that's the perspective that I try to take is always keep up-skilling yourself and never be satisfied because everything is elevating and changing and evolving and you want to be there evolving with the times. You don't want to just say I'm okay with where I am. And you know, maybe that's fine, but at the same time, if you want to keep moving up, you definitely have to up-skill yourself.

And I think you need to be strategic on where you want to take your career. For example, if you're not working digital service delivery and you don't really care about product management, a CSPO certification is not going to do you any good in policy. It might, but probably not. You have to be clever on how you actually utilize. Versus a PMP is more of a general certification and a lot of policy people that I know are PMP certified. So, it really depends on where you want to take your career.

Eric Champagne: Alright, Anandu, thank you very much. And I see Sharnelle wants to jump in. Please go ahead.

Sharnelle Morgan: I might just say, I agree with Anandu's response. And I'll just say that based on the questions you've asked, and you have an undergrad in political science, and you have a graduate degree in public policy, it seems to me that I don't think you're under qualified. And these are all assumptions, because I'm only going from what you've mentioned in your question, but it seems as though you're interested in the policy field. So, I think having both an undergrad and a graduate degree has probably given you a really good foundation of what it takes to work in the public policies field or public administration. Perhaps maybe what you would like to do is try to get some experience in that domain.

I know, for instance, in the public service, they might ask in the job applications for all this experience that you feel that you might not have and you're hoping that your academic experience would have given that to you. It did, it gave you the knowledge and it gave you the ability to write; how to really critically think; analyze.

And if you need a little bit more experience, see if your schools have opportunities to contribute to those newspaper columns where you get to put out articles on particular topics and do that policy analysis. See if there's ways where you can volunteer, and start working on research or analysis or putting together briefs, or think pieces. Just to essentially allow you to really use those skills that you learned in school. But it seems like you have the academic experience, so maybe what's missing is that work component. And oftentimes if you don't have work experience yet, volunteer is a really good start, or an internship and then from there it just starts building, because now you have the experience to really be able to land yourself something else. But I'm happy to chat with you also offline, if need be.

Eric Champagne: Sharnelle, I totally concur with you, and we need to say to Nicholas, he has a really good foundation. Just the experience maybe that is missing, but trust yourself, Nicholas. I'm sure you will get there at some point.

Listen, the time flies and I'm going to take only one last question and it's from [INAUDIBLE]. Are you aware of any, and I'm asking this question because we are in the middle of a competition today, so I'm going to take that opportunity. Are you aware of any competition or challenges organised by the government that can help university students have their first job experience as public servants?

It's a good question, but you know, I just think it fits with the context of today's competition. Any takes on this? Anyone? Sharnelle go ahead.

Sharnelle Morgan: I might jump in. So, there are a few job processes that are geared generally towards undergrad or, sorry, newly graduate students. That was the question? If there's any specific, so wait, was that the question? Because I don't want to answer it if that -

Eric Champagne: The question was around competitions or challenges that are organised by the government to get a job. I feel that there are some specific recruitment processes that are very focused on some sectors, so maybe that's how I will interpret this question.

Sharnelle Morgan: Okay. That's how I interpret it as well. So, there's a few. There's the RPL, which is the Recruitment Policy Leaders program. So, that's one that I would encourage you to look into. There's also a few developmental programs. So, there's the APAP program, so the Advanced Policy Analyst Program, where essentially they bring students in, or recent grads, at EC 3, I believe. And then within two years they work with them and move them up the ladder until an EC 5. You get experience at central agencies, all three. And then you're kind of sponsored by a line department. I know Natural Resource Canada also has their own, I think it's called PARDP. It's also a developmental program. Those are the three off the top of my head that are geared towards recent graduates, both undergrad and graduate.

Eric Champagne: Yes, Sharnelle, and I will say keep an eye on these types of competitions and apply for it. You know what, it's time to close this conversation. It was way too short, but that's all the time we have today and I would like to thank our wonderful panelists. I'm sure you will agree with me that it was a fantastic discussion. I hope that it was useful for all the attendees as well.

I would like to thank you, the participants, and thank you for your questions. There's so many other questions that are asked and I invite you to keep the conversation going and ask us questions. Ask the panel questions through social media, or LinkedIn or, or keep connected. I'll accept, myself, any invitation from you in LinkedIn and I'm sure it's going to be the same for the panelists.

So on behalf of the Canada School of Public Service, I would like to thank CAPPA for organizing this year's National Student Case Competition. I would also like to thank everyone who attended today's event and participated in this discussion. We hope you found this session helpful and that you will consider a possible career in the Public Service of Canada. If you enjoyed this event, the Canada School of Public Service has an annual national student paper competition where students can submit a 1,500 words paper focusing on the current priorities and concerns of the Government of Canada for the chance to win a four month internship with the Canadian Federal Public Service. For more information and opportunities, you can always visit the CSPS website on their partnerships and initiatives.

Once again, thank you so much for joining us on this Saturday, and I wish you all the best in the case competition. Thank you all. Bye-Bye.

[Video ends.]

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