The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is consistently one of the top five employers of students within the Federal Public Service. It typically hires over 900 students each summer, which represents approximately six to eight percent of its workforce.
In 2017–2018, the Agency’s Human Resources Branch established the Student Experience Office (SEO) to enhance students’ experiences during their time at the Agency. The CBSA recognizes that students play a key role in workforce renewal and continues to focus on fostering and engaging future public servants.
The SEO is primarily staffed by students and serves as a vehicle for students to openly discuss issues and experiment with innovative ideas. It fosters a spirit of community among students and empowers students to take on more active roles within their organizations. The SEO is the central point of advice and guidance to managers on topics related to recruitment, on-boarding and off-boarding. It also coordinates guidance among stakeholders to ensure that managers are supported through the process.
In 2017–2018, the SEO organized over 15 events and activities for students, aiming to increase organizational know-how, as well as provide them with practical knowledge on how to prepare and apply for jobs.
As the SEO is fully experimental in nature, the level of bureaucracy is minimal. For example, student employees within the SEO are given discretion to organize events and activities, set up a critical-path and work plan. This not only empowers students within the SEO, but also carries over into their interactions with peers.
Thanks to the SEO, students describe a sense of community at the CBSA that contributes greatly to their experience. This ensures that students do not feel isolated in their jobs, knowing that there are others they can reach out to for knowledge-sharing and support.
The CBSA was strongly committed to establishing a dedicated office to support students throughout their work experience, and the SEO reflects that commitment.
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