I enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Public Policy and Program Evaluation during a career change. Coming from an academic and professional background entirely unrelated to public policy or public programs (academic and professional music and organizational development), the instructors provided unparalleled insight into the life of public programs and policy from their cumulative experience in the public sector and evaluation. Moreover, they have continued to support my transition into the field of public policy and administration at every turn.
One of these support mechanisms was an invitation to sit on the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) Board of Directors as a student representative. While the experience is incredibly educational and empowering and has made me feel like a part of something much bigger, the first meeting led to even more invitations to join the EDI+Sustainability Subcommittee as well as meetings with the Board’s Partnerships Representative to develop a lasting partnership between the CES and Carleton’s SPPA.
While CES’s National Capital Chapter has been incredible in their support, there have also been opportunities to volunteer with the CES conference. The trials and tribulations associated with executing a successful conference during COVID-19 lockdown were well forecasted by the CES conference committees and I had the opportunity of hosting multiple sessions during the conference. The networking opportunities were endless. The experience was so rewarding that I immediately signed on as a member of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Sustainability Committee (IDEAS Committee), where we developed products to reinforce EDI and Sustainability principles throughout the development of CES conferences (particularly C2022).
The evaluation approaches and theories that I learned throughout my time in the DPPE have translated directly to my workplace. When I approached the company executive with a work plan to evaluate the organization’s operations, I was met with incredible support and optimism. This is undoubtedly due to my level of preparedness and applicable knowledge that I had garnered from the DPPE lessons. The execution of the work plan led to incredible results for the company and has since led to the introduction of evaluation cycles in the company — something that had never before been on the company’s radar.
The education, hands-on experience and support in my transition to evaluation has propelled me forward on my new career path in public policy and evaluation. I have operationalized my new-found awareness of stakeholder needs assessments and formative evaluation approaches, and continue my professional development in learning how to incorporate empowerment practices, EDI and feminist approaches, and new developments in evaluation (e.g., arts-based evaluation).
I look forward to establishing a well-rounded understanding of policy development and analysis in the Canadian context when I start the Master of Public Policy and Administration in the fall.