From classroom to cubicle: Students share Materiel Group experiences

Materiel Group students
Materiel Group students Star Latty, Catherine Desormeaux, Andrea Eid and Michael Diamond-Masse. Photo: DND

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Andrea Eid and Star Latty, ADM (Mat) Internal Communications co-op students

Let’s face it. You did not expect that your first day on your first job at the Department of National Defence (DND) would involve settling into a small cubicle with cords spilling out from every direction and a squeaky office chair.

Fear not my fellow millennials, for we Homo sapiens happen to be one of the most adaptable life forms on planet Earth. You’ll quickly get used to that squeaky chair, and add some personal touches to bring some warmth and colour to your workspace. As the days turn into weeks, you gain confidence in your abilities and talents, get to know your co-workers, and make some friends along the way. You’ll come to appreciate your time in the Materiel Group. If you have any doubts, allow us to put them to rest.

Recently, the Materiel Group internal communications team solicited the opinions of several student employees to learn about their experiences. Here is what some of them had to say.

“I enjoyed how much directors and supervisors want you to succeed and grow as a student. They show that they care about your progress by acknowledging your weaknesses and helping you work through them.” – Brendan Parker

At DND, you can have fun and be productive simultaneously. Student tours and educational travel help students build connections outside the office setting, and learn more about what it means to be a part of the Materiel Group.

In summer 2017, 142 personnel from all divisions were given the opportunity to visit the last of 12 Halifax-class frigates to go through the modernization and mid-life refit program. This trip was an exceptional opportunity to learn about the inner-workings of these multi-role patrol frigates first hand, and the significance of the Materiel Group’s contributions. So chances are you won’t be spending your entire placement within the confines of your cubicle.

“Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Halifax with Arctic Offshore and Patrol Ships. We got a tour of the Irving Shipyards where we were able to see the construction facility, and board the partially completed Harry DeWolf Class AOPS 1. The experience was unforgettable, and was a key factor in my decision to pursue a career in the public service.” – Steven Truong

Students are often nervous about working closely with a team of professionals. Fear not. Everyone within the Mat community is approachable and keen on helping students reach their full potential.

“My supervisors and co-workers are all very friendly and supportive. They are always willing to help me, and are never afraid to highlight areas of improvement without coming across as overly critical or intimidating.” – Catherine Desormeaux

The corporate culture in the Materiel Group encourages students to establish a positive and transparent work relationship with their co-workers and supervisors.

“Be open to learn. There is so much diversity within ADM (Mat), and so much opportunity to learn.” – Jacob Mackenzie

Students are encouraged to try new things, and to venture outside of their job description. By undertaking different types of tasks, students broaden their skill-sets, and can develop transferable skills beyond their field of study.

“The most important tip I would pass on to future DND student employees is to follow your curiosity. You will meet people from so many different parts of ADM (Mat). Take that as an opportunity to ask questions and to get involved as much as you can because every new experience is a learning opportunity.” – Brendan Parker

Taking initiative and being proactive is the best way to show your value as an employee. Students are encouraged to ask questions, voice their opinions, and to present any innovative ideas they feel may contribute to the overall success of the Group. Managers are encouraged to empower and publicly recognize their students.

“Don’t be afraid to take initiative! A little extra effort can definitely go a long way later down the line. Work hard and take every opportunity you can to network!” – Steven Truong

Remember that your experience with the Materiel Group is more than just a section on your resume; it could be the beginning of your career.

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