The federal government open doors for hiring grad students

Posted on October 15, 2009 by

I’ve been attending a few sessions by various governmental departments recently, and I’m struck by the change a couple of years can make. One of the few employers that actually pay higher salaries to employees with higher education, the federal government seems to finally be acknowledging that graduate students, across a broad range of fields, have valuable contributions to make to Canadian society, and is developing programs and career paths to attract them to public service.

A few of these opportunities for graduate students in the government have crossed my desk, so I thought I’d pass them on to all of you.

The first one is the Fall 2009 Recruitment of Policy Leaders (RPL). This is open to Master’s and Doctoral level students who “want to make a contribution to public service after a proven record of success” while demonstrating ‘exceptional’ leadership skills in both academic and volunteer contexts.

They seem to be most interested in folks graduating December 2010 with policy interests in economic, political, legal, social, or scientific fields.

The submission deadline is coming up fast – October 19th, 2009. If you want to know more, check out the site:

Another rather interesting opportunity ties graduate-level research through a collaboration between the Public Service Commission and the Canada School of Public Service - the area that is responsible for the development of public servants. It’s called the Students Providing Aligned Research and Knowledge (SPARK) — I’m not kidding.

It provides a mechanism for connecting graduate-level research projects directly with government departments that would be interested in the research findings. Unlike most initiatives at the federal level, this one is available to both domestic and international students.

You conduct research at your home institution, although you may need to present your findings to the sponsoring organization, in which case all travel and associated costs would be covered. You must have a professor interested in supervising the research. And you will be paid throughout the project – the amount depends on the project. Projects currently available are posted on the Research Affiliate Program (RAP) – and as new projects become available they also will be posted. Look for those projects identified as SPARK program projects.

While you’re on the Public Service Commission site, look around. There’s a lot of information there that might be interesting for those of you looking for an alternative to a viable academic career. At least those years dealing with university bureaucracies will come in handy for something!


2 Responses to “The federal government open doors for hiring grad students”

  1. Dave says:

    Thanks for the info, Carolyn. Do you have any numbers for the hiring targets in these programs? When I was graduating in 2007, there were about 550 jobs for 35000 applicants from the post-secondary recruitment program ( I imagine that the number of RPL hires is equally dismal.


  2. Carolyn says:

    Hi Dave,

    It would be difficult to to know how many positions open to graduate student specifically the PSC is hiring as that information is not public in some programs. I do know that the need for new hires across the the government is significant given the percentage of civil servants that will be retiring over the next 5-10 years – well over 50% by some estimates.

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