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This years round of interns have the opportunity to work in Gatineau city hall in a Francophone environment. Photo: Courtesy of IPPSSA.

Opportunity seeks to bridge engagement gap with Francophone students interested in politics

This year’s iteration of the International Political and Policy Studies Student Association’s (IPPSSA) political internship program will see an expansion to Gatineau, Quebec, in a move that seeks to better serve the University of Ottawa’s Francophone community.

In its inaugural year, the program placed students through Ottawa city hall where they worked with around a dozen city councillors and the mayor. The following year saw an extension to Parliament Hill, where Members of Parliament and Senators from the four major federal parties participated. In this year’s run, the program has expanded to Gatineau city hall.

In speaking with the Fulcrum, Spencer Brickles, IPPSSA’s internship director, says the expansion was the natural next step. IPPSSA realized there was a lack of engagement with Francophone students, and so the idea for creating Francophone-specific opportunities emerged.

In Gatineau city hall, not only will students be working within a French-speaking office, but they will also be dealing with issues specifically facing the French population, including but not limited to language rights and higher provincial taxes.

This year also sees an increase in the internship’s presence in the Senate. IPPSSA partnered directly with the Senate communications team, which allowed the program to be promoted via internal channels. Senate offices were able to apply to host interns directly through their human resources department.

Brickles’ main goal for the program is growth in quality for both the interns and participating offices. A newly established internship committee will facilitate responsive ongoing communication throughout the year, which he hopes will result in a more enjoyable and productive experience for all parties.

After three years of the internship program’s growth, IPPSSA has no plans of stopping in 2019. At the top of the idea list is an expansion into the private sector. This means tackling changes surrounding labour laws, however, Brickles thinks the challenge is worth it. Placements in public relations or government relations firms would allow students the opportunity to experience yet another side of the complex world of politics.

Students from any year and program are eligible to apply. The first round of applications for the 2018-19 internship program closed Aug. 20 and the second round will open post-101 week on Sept. 10. Keep an eye on IPPSSA’s Facebook page for the application.