Experiential Learning Student Profile: Jesse Alook

Meet Jesse Alook, Master of Public Health Specializing in Health Policy and Management, who complete his practicum at the Government of British Columbia’s Office of Indigenous Health.

15 May 2023

Tell us about your practicum experience and the work you did there.

I started planning my practicum experience about nine months before practicum started. I was in a friend group that had made plans to go to Victoria, so I knew I wanted to live on Vancouver Island during my practicum, and that I wanted to work in Indigenous health. Fortunately, the Government of British Columbia is based in Victoria, B.C., and they had an office in downtown Victoria. With this knowledge, I spoke with the practicum coordinator (who at the time was Erin Pollock) and let her know that I wanted to work with this organization. Erin reached out on my behalf, and the plan was made for me to start my practicum in Victoria in January 2022.

During my practicum, I had two different preceptors: Kyle Liu and Mark Matthews. They tasked me with the project of developing a business case. Ironically, I went to Victoria because I wanted to work in person. However, because the COVID-19 pandemic was still in full force, I was only able to go into the office once a week (on Wednesdays) and had to work from home otherwise.

I opted to work four days a week for 13 weeks instead of five days for 10 weeks, because I wanted to explore Victoria and Vancouver Island on the weekends when I was there. If you are going away for practicum, this is the option I would recommend. I was able to visit Tofino, Vancouver, Duncan, Cowichan Bay, and many other small towns on Vancouver Island. There were only two weekends during the four months when I was home. 

What skills and experiences did you gain?

I gained an extensive amount of knowledge on the topic of Indigenous health in British Columbia. This transferred very well to my current job in Alberta Health Services’ Indigenous Wellness Core, as much (but not all) of the knowledge transferred well into Alberta. 

Aside from that, I gained confidence and knowledge about how to network with other professionals. I learned how to gather feedback from these professionals for the betterment of my project, and had many discussions with my preceptors on the importance of community, communication and maintaining relationships. 

How do you feel this experience helped your career move forward?

I am where I am today because of this experience. The practicum was exactly what I was looking forward to and the experience is one that I am going to remember for the rest of my career. I was happy to have lived in B.C. for some time. My advice to other students is to really vet and make sure your practicum experience is right for you. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so make the most of it.


Learn more about Experiential Learning options in the School of Public Health here