Andrew Swift (BA'13)

A day in the life

Andrew Swift (BA'13)

Andrew-Swift_Poli-Sci_2

My undergrad honours gave me the tools to go to grad school and perform well in my current position. I was told my research experience with Aboriginal issues contributed to my landing the job. So I really owe Dal and the profs in Poli Sci big thanks."

A job in his field – and out in Ontario parks

Post-graduation success in the job market happened for Andrew Swift even a little sooner than he’d hoped. Within two months of getting his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, he started a position as Aboriginal Relations Intern with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

He attributes success – there were 300 applicants – to how well in the interview “you can apply your degree to what you’ll be doing,” Andrew notes. “I learned a host of skills during my degree that directly relate to my internship: how to conduct high-quality research independently, to focus, set deadlines, professionally present my findings, and balance my course load and other commitments. It was a really great learning experience.”

Andrew adds that it helped to have done his thesis in an area related to the position: he did a comparative study of Canada’s Beaufort Sea Region and Greenland, which is a self-governing Inuit nation, to determine whether the opinions of the Inuit communities were being “re-worked in development plans” after offshore oil and gas development consultations.

He also gives kudos to his professors in the Political Science department, who “were incredibly helpful and always supportive of my endeavours. They were fantastic and clearly passionate about their work. And the staff were amazing, the classes intriguing.”

Putting his skills to work

Even after his second week as a parks intern, Andrew was already visiting different parks, meeting with staff and attendants, learning about “how to initiate better relationships between park staff and local First Nations communities, in advance of the Algonquin Land Claim,” Andrew explains. “The claim is within park boundaries. So I’m helping the superintendents in these parks to engage with the communities on such issues as access to parks for cultural and spiritual activities.”

“My job keeps me busy,” Andrew says, “but I love it. I get to mix my love of research with my passion for the outdoors, politics, and aboriginal studies.”

As Andrew’s current internship is a two-year contract, he’s starting to look down the road to what might lie beyond. “I’ve just been given permission from my manager to start my master’s part-time,” he says. “I’m looking at taking a few grad courses in January and officially starting next September. I’m also exploring the idea of going to law school after my master’s, to study Aboriginal and Environmental Law.”

But, for now, he’s happy: “As long as I can keep making my degree work for me in my current (and future) positions, I’m in no rush. I have a great job and I love it.”