Sept. 26, 2019Print | PDF
City of Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic (BA ’88, BDip ’89) knows the importance of providing experiential learning opportunities to postsecondary students. This summer, he found out first-hand what Wilfrid Laurier University students bring to the workplace.
“It’s important to provide meaningful, real-world experiences that can guide students in terms of their future careers,” says Vrbanovic. “In our case, it also brings enthusiasm and new skillsets into municipal government.”
Julia Pereira was the first Laurier co-op student to work in the City of Kitchener’s Office of the Mayor and Council. Working with chief of staff Paul Grivicic (BA ‘98) during her summer co-op term, Pereira served as a projects assistant, undertaking writing and research related to community initiatives such as the push for two-way, all-day GO train service between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto. She also collaborated with city-wide teams on responses to provincial legislation that impacts the mayor’s office.
“As a double-major in political science and communication studies, this role strikes a perfect balance between my two main interests,” says Pereira, who is also enrolled in Laurier’s management option.
“Public service positions... provide meaningful opportunities to shape communities regionally, provincially and nationally.”
Grivicic – who, like Vrbanovic, is a Laurier alumnus – says Pereira possesses strong writing abilities, resourceful research techniques and a knack for the municipal political environment. He noted her work to prepare city highlights for the conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and to develop comprehensive briefing notes about priorities like Kitchener’s Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy, affordable housing, Kitchener's Corporate Climate Action Plan, and high-speed rail, just to name a few.
“She created a library of information that will provide the mayor and our office with a depth of knowledge we can tap into now and in years to come,” says Grivicic.
Pereira says her co-op experience has provided a new perspective on how municipal government works. After graduation, she hopes to leverage her in-class learning and on-the-job experience to launch a career in government relations.
“Working in municipal government, you are close to constituents and the public,” says Pereira. “The chance to share good news and important information about the issues impacting the community makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”
Vrbanovic says creating opportunities for students like Pereira does make a difference – and will benefit the public sector workforce in the future.
“If we want to continue to attract some of the best talent, we need to create interesting opportunities and make sure young people are aware these public sector jobs exist,” says Vrbanovic. “Public service positions like Julia’s provide meaningful opportunities to shape communities regionally, provincially and nationally.”
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