Rita Houkayem – Global Affairs Canada Summer 2016

Position Title: Junior Analyst / Marketing & Communications Officer

Workplace: Global Affairs Canada, International Education Division

NPSIA cluster: International Development Policy

Position obtained through the Carleton co-op process?: Yes

Undergrad school(s): University of Toronto

Undergrad major(s): International Development Studies & French (double major), Political Science (minor)


What is your commute to work like?

 Rain or shine, I bike to work everyday! Favorite part of my day!

How would you describe the dress code at your work?

 Business Casual.

Are there many other NPSIAns at your workplace?

 It felt like a summer camp for NPSIAns.

What are the lunch options like nearby your work?

 We have a cafeteria at the first floor of the building. If you are feeling more adventurous and have a bike, you can always go to the ByWard Market and have lunch there.

How many jobs did you apply to this summer?

 Three but I highly recommend applying to many more!

What is your favourite part about your job?

Other than knowing that I work for the the best country in the world, I am surrounded by brilliant like-minded people that really care about having a positive impact on Canada and the rest of the world.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

 The difficulty in completing certain tasks due the government’s dense bureaucratic processes.

There are also times where I wish it was a little busier. I am much more efficient when I have a heavy workload.

What is an average day like for you?

 It generally consists of meetings and completing individual/team projects. During lunch, I generally workout in the building’s gym, do yoga at Parliament Hill (on Wednesdays) or run some errands at the Rideau Centre.

Is your workplace fully bilingual, or does it favour English over French (or vice versa)?

 It is fully bilingual! All of the employees speak both languages simultaneously during most conversations.

What are some exciting things happening in your workplace right now?

 We just launched the new Canadian Education (EduCanada) brand to attract more foreign students to study in one of the top destinations for education in the world. It was really exciting being involved in this huge project and actually having an impact!

What surprised you the most about your workplace/position?

 The level of responsibility and freedom I have gained from my employer. She tasks me with important initiatives while allowing me to dictate my schedule as long as I meet all deadlines. I also didn’t expect to see so many courses and networking opportunities organized by Global Affairs Canada in which my manager highly supports me to attend.  I just signed up for a language course!

Are you also taking classes (NPSIA, language training, etc.) and/or studying abroad this summer?

 I took a basic introductory Arabic course at Algonquin College.

Which NPSIA course best-prepared you for your position?

 Every course I took provided me with important knowledge and skills that I have put to use in my workplace. My research, writing and analytical skills have improved remarkably and have been very useful. Also, the conversations that I have had with my peers and professors had much impact on preparing me for my position.

What sort of work experience did you have before this position?

 I had the opportunity to do some short-term volunteer work in a few developing countries. I’ve also worked in financial institutions and sales and was a teacher for a year.

What are your hours like? 

Generally from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm but are sometimes extended when I am doing overtime.

What is some advice you’d give to a student hoping to get hired/intern at your workplace?

 Before applying, make sure that you are actually interested in the position and the organization. Try to pick a position that will mostly benefit you in your future career. Make sure to connect with your cohort, professors and people from your field. NPSIAns are known to look out for each other!