An engineer, scientist, teacher, and policy analyst walk into a bar


Sabrina Bedjera

Canadian Science Policy Centre


Disclaimer: The French version of this editorial has been auto-translated and has not been approved by the author.

I get what you’re thinking, but this isn’t the beginning of a joke or riddle. This is my journey trying to find an interdisciplinary job that allows me to combine my varied interests, and work on some of the world’s most pressing issues. CSPC helped me with my switch from engineering and science into policy which was one of the hardest. Up until that point, I had done a lot of science and engineering research, and had dabbled in teaching math, but I had never really explored the policy field.

I first learned about policy in the University of Waterloo’s Collaborative Water Program, which I joined when I was completing my Masters of Applied Science in Engineering. Through this program, I was able to work with other students and professionals from various disciplines such as engineering, science, policy, and architecture. I learned how to implement an interdisciplinary approach to solve complex water problems and realized the importance of policy. I was hooked and had to learn more.

The next natural step for me was enrolling in my first policy course. This was quite intimidating. All my previous courses had other engineers, and scientists, did I belong in a policy course? At the beginning of the course, I did feel out of depth, and the first few assignments and readings took me a while to get through. But my professor and fellow students really helped to build up my confidence in the policy field. It was through this course that I first learned about the CSPC and was encouraged to apply for the Youth Science Policy Award.

I applied for the award, and was ecstatic when I received runner-up for my 2019 proposal on “A holistic approach to measuring drinking water success in Indigenous communities”1. I was invited to attend CSCP 2019 to receive my award. Attending the CSPC conference was a major turning point for me. I got to present my proposal to government officials, industry professionals, and academics which opened doors to various careers in policy. It was one of the best conferences I have been to, the sessions were engaging, the speakers were passionate about their topics, and almost everyone there was interested in an interdisciplinary lens! I was also able to meet CSPC volunteers who raved about their experience and encouraged me to volunteer.

In early 2020, I applied to be part of CSPC’s Editorial and Website Committee, and I’m so glad that I did, being part of this committee provided me with a community during the pandemic. I had the opportunity to edit editorials (things have come full circle now as I’m writing one) and make updates to the website. This experience helped me to further hone my policy skills, and I got to work on my creativity and design skills.

I’m now working in policy where I get to use my interdisciplinary background to work on mining, critical minerals, and battery files. I’m so grateful for my time with the CSPC as it has helped me to transition from an engineering and science role to a policy one.