My placement at PHO began May 1st and brought about a lot of change. Although PHO’s main office is located in downtown Toronto, my placement was located in one of their largest regional office located in Ottawa, ON. Having never been to Ottawa, it was quite the learning curve for me! But it really has been such a pleasant experience so far. The picture is from our Ottawa office BBQ. If it’s one thing I have learned, it’s how accommodating they can be even if I am not located at the main office, and how much they truly value and encourage your professional development.
I really enjoy my work and I absolutely love everyone in my department. My supervisor is my most valuable resource. As nervous as I was about not knowing enough about what I am about to do, my supervisor gave me all of the resources I needed. Despite it being his first time taking on a student, he has provided with me so much reading material and really encourages me to take advantage of every learning opportunity even, if it means I have to take time away from my project. He is really approachable and lets me set my own schedule and tasks. PHO really values student learning and offers multiple opportunities for students to learn. I am currently enrolled in a student mentoring program, where I am paired with a mentor in an area of interest (even if its outside my department), and I regularly meet this person to ask for advice. This can be career advice, advice on how to work with my colleagues or supervisor or advice on what my next steps should be. The mentoring program also organizes individuals from multiple departments within PHO to present and talk about what their departments are responsible for and what they are currently working on. I am able to attend these though a webinar from Ottawa!
My project has also taught me a lot. I am in the middle of working on 2 practicum projects which has kept me really busy during the first month of my practicum. My first week was mostly spent reading a lot of learning documents, guidelines, project proposals, terms of reference, and so on. My second week was when I really started to get into my project. Although I was slow starting off, once I got the hang of it, I was able to keep up with the speed and ease of my colleagues. So never fear! You will learn! The MPH program really does make sure you have most of the skills you need for your practicum! The rest, your supervisor and colleagues will teach you. Over the course of the month I was able to get more involved each of my projects. I do get nervous each time we begin a new phase and I have to learn how to do something new. But what I have realized is that I do have the background skills for the job thanks to the MPH program and my supervisor teaches me the rest. So, what tips can I offer you for your placement? Realize that it’s okay for you to admit you don’t know something, that’s why you are a student. Your supervisor has taken you on as a student knowing that they will have to teach and train you. So, don’t be afraid to ask! Also, don’t be afraid to go somewhere far for your placement. You’ll be surprise how quickly the 4 months will fly by!