The School of Public Policy & Administration celebrates its public service partners

Over the past 25 years, students in the practicum and internship program of the School of Public Policy & Administration (PPA), in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, have worked in almost every ministry of the Ontario government, in municipal governments across southern Ontario and in a variety of broader public sector agencies, boards and commissions.

Recently, the school celebrated its public service partners and alumni at its second annual Meet and Greet Breakfast in the Grosvenor Room of at Toronto’s Metro Central YMCA. The school took time to honour the Ontario Public Service (OPS) for its continued involvement with the practicum and internship programs.

Left: Shelly Jamieson, secretary to the Ontario Cabinet and head of the OPS

Three members of the OPS who had taken York students year after year were fêted at the celebration. They were Orna Salamon, director of the Drinking Water Programs Branch, Ontario Ministry of the Environment; George Mandrapilias, team leader for Materials Industries in the Ministry of Economic Development & Trade; and Dave Cook, manager of strategic projects for the Ministry of the Environment.

More than 50 people attended the Sept. 14 celebration, including York student association representatives, faculty, alumni and OPS staff. Shelly Jamieson, secretary to the Ontario Cabinet and the head of the OPS, delivered the keynote speech and also presented awards.

“Our organizations have helped hundreds of students gain valuable experience and a competitive edge in the job market,” said Jamieson about the importance of the partnership between the OPS and York. “Together, we’re also infusing the Ontario Public Service with a new generation of dedicated and skilled professionals.”

Each year – in conjunction with their fourth-year courses in program evaluation and public policy research – a number of students take a practicum course in which they volunteer to work in a government or other public agency for one day a week.

Most of the placements involve recurrent partnerships, says Peter Constantinou (BA ’89), the school’s internship and practicum coordinator. This, he adds, is due to the high calibre of students coming in the program and their commitment to top-notch work.

Left: Peter Constantinou

“Since graduation last June, over half the students who did not go on to graduate studies have been hired by the public sector, and all attribute it to the experience that they received in this program,” says Constantinou. “These practicums and internships have provided students with an invaluable opportunity to apply their formal education and training in real public service situations, and have helped them make decisions about a career in the public sector.”

“It is a testimony to the quality of the careful match we make between work and student, that each year many students end up being hired as interns by their placement organization,” says Professor Joanne Magee, director of the school.

For more information, visit the School of Public Policy & Administration website.