Revitalizing an organization through work‑integrated learning

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Revitalizing an organization through work‑integrated learning

Posted by Allison Auld on January 25, 2019 in Employer news
Organizations like the CRA find success in hiring Dal co-op and intern students
Organizations like the CRA find success in hiring Dal co-op and intern students


When most of us picture beautiful Prince Edward Island, we think of the east coast’s vacationland — home to scenic sandy beaches, stretches of golf greens and a certain famed red-head. But it’s also home to a large branch of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), where Dal co-op and internship students have spent countless work terms learning and growing with an organization that impacts the lives of millions of Canadians.

As an IT Team Leader at the Summerside location, Brian Duffy has hired and worked with a lot of co-op and internship students in his 15-year history with the organization. It was through his own work-integrated learning experience as part of his Business Technology’s program back in 2001 that led to the start of his career with the CRA. The support he received from the organization as a student helped him to gain experience in his field and find an opportunity to grow his career.

In addition to his IT role, Brian is also the CRA Ambassador for the Atlantic region, where part of his job is to secure new talent for the organization. He shares that the CRA looks to Canadian post-secondary institutions as part of their overall recruitment strategy: “We’re rejuvenating our workforce with diverse, talented, and innovative people, and post-secondary recruitment plays an important role in energizing the CRA’s workforce.

“Students bring a fresh perspective and energy to their work with the CRA. They help the teams they work with stay current on trends and technologies, and enable the CRA to work with the workforce of tomorrow, today.”

Duffy shares that as a top employer of young people, the CRA attracts new talent by providing meaningful work opportunities in locations across Canada, and the chance to develop and enhance their skills on-the-job. Last year, the agency hired 1,900 students through co-op, internships, and the Federal Student Work Experience Program, representing nearly 5% of its total employee base.

The best of both worlds

When it came time to apply for internship positions as part of Dal’s Master of Applied Computer Science (MACS) program, Owen Davison jumped at the chance to work for the CRA. 

Working for a big organization with big systems was the main attraction. Working in PEI was the icing on the cake.

“There are interesting things going on here in Summerside,” says Davison, who is originally from Edmonton. “I wanted to live somewhere rural, and this is a great opportunity to work for a large organization in a small town.”

Now newly graduated, Davison is still working for the CRA, completing the organization’s Information Technology Apprenticeship Program (ITAP), a 12-month apprenticeship program for new grads that bridges candidates into full-time Analyst/Developer roles upon program completion.

Davison says it wasn’t just the apprenticeship program that encouraged him to continue his career with the CRA: “I was expecting a big-corporate and formal culture when I started here, but it’s been the opposite. A big part of why I stayed [after graduating] was for the culture and work-life balance.”

With a focus on security and data management, he adds that the IT function at the CRA focuses on continual improvement: “The systems we’re working on process very sensitive data belonging to tax-paying Canadians. It’s really rewarding to know that we’re impacting so many Canadians with what we do everyday.”

More than just taxes

The CRA offers careers in many disciplines, including information technology, accounting, communications and human resources, and are interested in a variety of disciplines including computer science, sociology, statistics and economics.

With an abundance of learning opportunities and professional development along with access to a robust CRA young professionals network, students are given the chance to learn and develop their skills, with many students finding full-time employment once their work term is complete.

For students who may want to learn more about the CRA, Davison suggests looking for the CRA booth at student career fairs, like the upcoming Dalhousie Job and Career Fair happening on February 7, 2019.

The CRA posts year-round co-op and internship opportunities on myCareer, or you can learn more about careers on the CRA’s website.