In late 2021, I was finishing up my PhD at McGill University and reached out to then Executive Director, Rachael Maxwell, with a proposition: McGill would pay for me to complete a short internship and it could be hosted by any organization, regardless of how aligned it was with my research. Earlier in the year I had been introduced to the intriguing world of science policy during a conversation with—as chance would have it—current Interim Executive Director, Vanessa Sung, after attending a career panel featuring McGill alumni. So, when the chance arose to choose an organization for my internship, I pursued E4D. I will be forever grateful to Rachael for valuing my transferable skills and giving me such an incredible opportunity to learn and grow, both personally and professionally.
I will admit it was a whirlwind of an internship given I was starting with zero prior policy experience. Thankfully, I was immediately familiarized with foundational concepts of science policy after sitting in on E4D’s Inaugural Science to Policy Accelerator (S2PA). I connected with many young science policy enthusiasts and learned about everything from how policymaking happens in the Canadian government to how to testify in front of parliamentary committees.
My first big task was to write a takeaway package and blog post summarizing key insights from the 16-hour-long course, a task that allowed me to leverage my information synthesis skills while helping me to cement all of this new knowledge. Then, within about a month of starting at E4D, I got to attend E4D’s annual federal budget review, where we analyze the federal budget and write (and publish!) a blog post discussing investments in science and research. So much teamwork, analysis, and writing all in the space of a few hours!
The remainder of my internship was primarily spent conducting analysis, writing research reports, and doing government outreach for our Eyes on Evidence series, which examines the transparency of evidence-use in government policy-making across the Canadian federation. After my internship was over, I was offered a Research Associate position and eventually, a Senior Research Associate position. By this time, Vanessa had joined E4D, which was a nice “full circle” moment given her role in sparking my interest in E4D.
Information synthesis, writing and speaking for different audiences, and making new connections are really what have defined my time at E4D. I have co-authored two reports in the Eyes on Evidence series, developed public-facing guides for our Evidence Matters campaign, and authored a recent report summarizing our public polling data. While the data nerd in me is quite attached to the polling results, I’m particularly proud of the Evidence Matters campaign—our first major campaign targeted at the public— which I was in charge of leading! The positive response to the campaign was overwhelming and I’m proud of myself and the team for putting together something that people found so useful and important.
I’ve also had the chance to write or co-author numerous pieces on E4D’s blog, as well as three op-eds published in University Affairs, the National Observer, and the Hill Times. Op-eds were a new medium for me and one I now find rather thrilling. I had to quickly pivot from writing academic reports to writing for a variety of audiences. While I feel that my writing improved, I am extremely appreciative of the many hours my colleagues Farah, Nada, Vanessa, and Rachel spent editing my work.
I was given the opportunity many times over to present E4D’s work and perspective to different audiences through media interviews, webinars, and formal speaking engagements, not to mention the many less formal presentations to government representatives and potential partner organizations. What I value most from these opportunities is the chance they gave me to connect with folks from diverse fields and backgrounds, including public policy graduate students, health policy researchers, elected representatives, independent journalists, science communicators, and so many more. These relationships will serve me well as I pursue new opportunities outside of E4D, and I hope to cross paths with many of my new connections!
Finally, I’ve had the opportunity to wear many hats. I have led and managedthe Evidence Matters campaign; contributed to the process of designing a new website; created infographics; coordinated and hosted panel discussions; and attended many networking events where I bumped shoulders with people like Catherine McKenney, Minister Champagne, Theresa Tam, and Stephen McNeil. There aren’t too many organizations that can offer such a varied (and important!) list of projects, opportunities, and connections. For a small organization, we certainly punch above our weight!
I’ll wrap this reflection up with a massive thank you to the team that has guided and mentored me throughout the last year and a half. I have been given so much space to learn, try new things, and meet and work with incredible people. I am so grateful for the time I spent with you all and for everything you taught me.
I can’t wait to see where you all take E4D next!