Transitioning from an academic career in engineering to a Policy Analyst at Natural Resources Canada was not a career path I would have thought was possible four years ago during the final year of my Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Queen’s University. I was certain that I wanted my work to impact the Canadian research and innovation landscape on a larger scale, but I did not know how to translate that desire into a career.
In 2019, while attending the Discovery Ontario Centre of Excellence conference, I was approached by two enthusiastic volunteers from the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) booth. They informed me about the mission and vision of CSPC, as well as the various activities of the center to foster collaboration in the science and innovation policy landscape; such as the annual Canadian Science Policy Conference. I did not know much about science policy at the time, but I was compelled by the opportunity to contribute to advancing the impact of science in society. I immediately signed up to volunteer with the center – a singular act that marked the onset of my career in science policy.
I volunteered on the Program Development Committee in 2020 and the Grants Committee in 2021. I had the opportunity to support the conference agenda, review panel proposals, and work with various panelists to facilitate the delivery of their panel sessions. As we all know, 2020 marked the onset of COVID-19 and a lot of unprecedented changes in our world. Amidst the rapid changes, it was great to have worked alongside the entire CSPC team to shape the content of the conference – New Decade, New Realities. Hindsight, Insight, Foresight – to reflect the realities of the world at that time. In addition, it was exciting to be part of the team that launched a new online platform and delivered the entire conference online for the first time. I also had the opportunity to conduct interviews with prominent figures in the Canadian science and innovation sector as part of the 2020 and 2021 pre-conference sessions.
Although it has been over 2 years since I last volunteered with CSPC, I continue to stay connected with the center and participate in various activities. The people I met during my time volunteering remain an integral part of my network and have been pivotal in offering career advice when needed. It would be impossible for me to talk about my career in science policy without recognizing the positive impact CSPC had on my journey.