November 18-22 is International Education Week, which is celebrated in over 100 countries around the globe. During this week, we will be highlighting stories from students (and the Dean of Arts, Lesley Cormack!) who have gone abroad as part of their program in the Faculty of Arts.
All interviews conducted by Sherilyn Trompetter , Senior Officer International, Undergraduate Student Services, Faculty of Arts.
Meet Sylvia Wong, ’18 BA in English and Political Science
Hi Sylvia! Where did you go and what did you do?
Through the Arts Work Experience (AWE) program, I was an intern for the Alberta Washington Office at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C. I provided assistance to the Managing Director, and Alberta's Representative to the United States. I was able to participate in many embassy events, including meeting Prime Minister Trudeau! As an intern, I was tasked with keeping track of intelligence related to the tariffs that the Trump administration placed on Canadian softwood lumber; that required me to attend a lot of think tank meetings and congressional hearing on Capitol Hill, and do weekly summaries for my supervisors. Other than that, the other interns and I provided assistance with embassy events, including Canada Day and the 58th Presidential Inauguration event. However, I made sure I kept my weekends free to explore the district :)
At what point in your academic program did you go?
I went during the fourth year of my undergrad. As a result, my academic schedule got pushed back a year, and I graduated a year after my internship.
Why did you go?
I wanted to experience living and working abroad! Working at the embassy sounded like an adventure to me, and I wasn't going to give up the opportunity.
What delighted you about your experience?
Meeting new people, and learning so much about the inner workings of government. I gained so many transferable skills that I use in my current job, and it reinforced a lot of what I learned in class. However, physically being there and gaining experience first-hand was something a classroom couldn't necessarily provide.
How did the experience influence you?
It helped me be certain that I would like to continue working in government. It also taught me my strengths and weaknesses. I also realized that D.C. is a truly wonderful place, and if I ever get the chance, I would definitely go back to experience it again!
What surprised you when you got back home?
To be honest, nothing much! That was because D.C. didn't necessarily have a completely different culture that I had to get used to. Everything felt familiar! I would say that D.C. runs to a different "beat" than Edmonton; you never know what breaking news you were going to face each day, especially since Capitol Hill is right next door!
Intern Sylvia Wong in Washington,D.C.
What advice would you have for Arts undergrad students who are considering a study abroad option?
I would say have patience because you are going to have to apply for many different positions before you find the right fit. It also takes a lot of patience to draft resumes and cover letters over and over again. Also, always be prepared to ask your potential employer questions about their work. This shows that you took the time to do research about the organization, and that you didn't go into the interview unprepared.
Check out our amazing Study Abroad programs here!