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Government of Canada – Advanced Policy Analyst Program (ask me anything)

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  • Dec 6th, 2017 2:00 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 15, 2010
1693 posts
246 upvotes

Government of Canada – Advanced Policy Analyst Program (ask me anything)

Some of you may know that the federal government’s post –secondary recruitment campaign started last week and that there are a lot of departments hiring graduates for the upcoming year. In my biased opinion (I did the program), the Advanced Policy Analyst Program (formerly the Accelerated Economist Training Program) is the best way to join the government for those interested in policy.

The program consists of a series of four challenging six-month placements across the three central agencies—the Privy Council Office, the Department of Finance, and the Treasury Board Secretariat—and another department in the National Capital Region. After the four placements, each participant is placed in a permanent position in their sponsoring department.

Unlike other department-specific development programs, this one gives participants a whole of government view on the policy development process and gives exposure to a variety of policy areas. It allows participants to create strong networks across the government and has a very strong alumni network.

Since this is RFD, I am sure people will be wondering about the salary. For the first year, it is about $60K (EC-3), the second year is about $65K (EC-4) and then $77K (EC-5) after you graduate. Graduates typically become EC-6’s (around 88K) within two years of graduation.

For anyone who is finishing or has just finished a Master’s degree and is interested in working for the federal government, I’d encourage you to look into the program.

I’m happy to answer any questions on this thread, but please do not PM me. I just want to make sure everyone has equal access to information.

More information about the program: https://apap.gc.ca/about-the-apap/127
Requirements to be eligible: https://apap.gc.ca/for-applicants/133
13 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1013 posts
391 upvotes
Edmonton
Hello there. Thanks for posting this. I was never able to apply to this when I finished my MA as I never won any academic scholarships or awards. A couple of questions for my curiosity / the benefit of future applicants:

1) Are there any magnet schools / programs that this recruitment scheme tends to draw from more than others?

2) Are there specific any skills/experience that you believe that the program recruiters are looking for besides the ones listed in the eligibility requirements? E.g., do they care about publications, corporate experience, prior public sector experience, bilingualism, etc?

3) Are academic scholarships/awards a major contributor to the hiring process or are they just a check box?

4) What kind of work do you guys do? Is it more research-oriented or more operational?

5) What's work-life balance like? Any late nights / weekends?

6) Are there any specific technical and/or software skills that they try to train for in the 2 year program?

7) What did you think of the organization? Did people seem to know what they were doing? Did you respect the leadership? Was it a collegial environment? Were the systems and processes running smoothly?
Jr. Member
Jun 4, 2016
122 posts
40 upvotes
I am an Sp04 at the CRA and would like to know if there are any opportunities for someone with a marketing degree/diploma background within that specific agency. I do not have a Masters.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 15, 2010
1693 posts
246 upvotes
Thanks for your questions. Below is my response.

1) Are there any magnet schools / programs that this recruitment scheme tends to draw from more than others?

In recent years, the program has hired a lot of people doing MPA/MPP programs from Ottawa U and Carelton but there are graduates from across the country with a variety of academic backgrounds.

2) Are there specific any skills/experience that you believe that the program recruiters are looking for besides the ones listed in the eligibility requirements? E.g., do they care about publications, corporate experience, prior public sector experience, bilingualism, etc?

There is no specific experience that is required, but demonstrating leadership and academic excellence is necessary. This can be done through previous work experience and/or publications. Language skills do not play any role in the selection process.

3) Are academic scholarships/awards a major contributor to the hiring process or are they just a check box?

Yes, they are important in the selection process. Not all scholarships are given equal weight. For example, a large entrance scholarship would be given more weight than a small award.

4) What kind of work do you guys do? Is it more research-oriented or more operational?

The type of work depends on the placements you get. Generally, participants will get some roles that are more operational (working on a Cabinet committee) and other more research/policy type jobs

5) What's work-life balance like? Any late nights / weekends?

This also depends on your placements. Some placements are strictly 37.5 hours per week, while other (Finance and PCO usually) require some overtime. Whether you are willing to work overtime can be one factor in determining which placements you get when you are in the program.

6) Are there any specific technical and/or software skills that they try to train for in the 2 year program?

There are no specific technical skills that you will train for in the program. However, some placements can be tailored if there is a specific skill you are looking to develop. For example, if you have experience working with statistical software and want to further develop this skill, it could be possible to do statistical work in a particular placement.

7) What did you think of the organization? Did people seem to know what they were doing? Did you respect the leadership? Was it a collegial environment? Were the systems and processes running smoothly?

The program isn't an organization per se but I think it runs really smoothly. The orientation week at the beginning of the program is really well done and helps build a sense of comradery among the group. There is also a very strong alumni network that helps. Each participant is paired with a program advisor (a recent graduate of the program) to help guide them and also has the option of being paired with a more senior mentor. The working environment from placement to placement varies depending on where you are. One good thing about the program is that it allows you to see a variety of work environments so that you can see what you like and don't like. This can help you in deciding on your permanent position after the program.
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1013 posts
391 upvotes
Edmonton
eiad77 wrote:
Sep 30th, 2016 4:12 pm

7) What did you think of the organization? Did people seem to know what they were doing? Did you respect the leadership? Was it a collegial environment? Were the systems and processes running smoothly?

The program isn't an organization per se but I think it runs really smoothly. The orientation week at the beginning of the program is really well done and helps build a sense of comradery among the group. There is also a very strong alumni network that helps. Each participant is paired with a program advisor (a recent graduate of the program) to help guide them and also has the option of being paired with a more senior mentor. The working environment from placement to placement varies depending on where you are. One good thing about the program is that it allows you to see a variety of work environments so that you can see what you like and don't like. This can help you in deciding on your permanent position after the program.
Interesting stuff!

Would you be willing to speak to your experiences in specific departments/placements that you worked in or provide some kind of "general consensus" notes on specific departments/placements from your alumni network? Which ones are most coveted? Which ones do people try to avoid?
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 15, 2010
1693 posts
246 upvotes
frozenmelon wrote:
Sep 30th, 2016 5:37 pm
Interesting stuff!

Would you be willing to speak to your experiences in specific departments/placements that you worked in or provide some kind of "general consensus" notes on specific departments/placements from your alumni network? Which ones are most coveted? Which ones do people try to avoid?
All participants get 6-month placements at the three central agencies (the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Department of Finance, and the Privy Council Office). I think that PCO is usually considered the highlight for most of the participants. At PCO, people usually get a chance to work on Memoranda to Cabinet and attend at least a couple Cabinet meetings. The Finance and TBS placements are a little more variable. Some people really enjoy them but some people have mixed experiences.

As far as home departments are concerned, Global Affairs and Finance are probably the two most popular. A lot of it depends on the interests of the individual participants though.

I should also mention that throughout the 2 years and after the program, participants get more than one option for placements and get to rank the placements. Usually they get one of their top ranked placements, so the placements are usually a good fit.
Newbie
Apr 15, 2016
5 posts
Hey - thanks for doing this. I have three questions (and subquestions) at the moment:

(1) With respect to your last point - that throughout the 2-year program and afterward, participants are presented with options for placements - does that mean that there may be different placements within each of the three central agencies (PCO, Treasury, and Finance) at any given time? What would the roles look like? Would they generally depend on what's being demanded at the given agency at the given time?

(2) You had previously mentioned that within 2 years of graduation it would not be uncommon to find oneself in the EC-06 payscale level. Is that true? Would placement in the APAP program place an applicant better for further advancement within the public service?

(3) Would you recommend the APAP Program over entry through another department's recruitment campaign (say, one which begins at the EC-04 level)? I'm asking given the pay discrepancy between the APAP starting point (EC-03) and the entry point for some other departments at EC-04. Do you have any idea whether, if someone were to be offered positions in both the APAP and a separate position at the EC-04 level if they would be able to start the APAP at the EC-04 level? Is there any room for negotiating the starting salary?

Any and all information you can provide is greatly appreciated!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 15, 2010
1693 posts
246 upvotes
Jeeves89 wrote:
Oct 20th, 2016 4:41 pm
Hey - thanks for doing this. I have three questions (and subquestions) at the moment:

(1) With respect to your last point - that throughout the 2-year program and afterward, participants are presented with options for placements - does that mean that there may be different placements within each of the three central agencies (PCO, Treasury, and Finance) at any given time? What would the roles look like? Would they generally depend on what's being demanded at the given agency at the given time?

(2) You had previously mentioned that within 2 years of graduation it would not be uncommon to find oneself in the EC-06 payscale level. Is that true? Would placement in the APAP program place an applicant better for further advancement within the public service?

(3) Would you recommend the APAP Program over entry through another department's recruitment campaign (say, one which begins at the EC-04 level)? I'm asking given the pay discrepancy between the APAP starting point (EC-03) and the entry point for some other departments at EC-04. Do you have any idea whether, if someone were to be offered positions in both the APAP and a separate position at the EC-04 level if they would be able to start the APAP at the EC-04 level? Is there any room for negotiating the starting salary?

Any and all information you can provide is greatly appreciated!
1. Yes, there are usually between 4-6 APAP participants at each of the central agencies at any one time. There are usually about 6-12 options at each of the central agencies that the 4-6 participants could go to. The types of placements are usually pretty stable, although the exact positions change a bit. At PCO, there are usually some cabinet coordination positions and some policy (challenge function) positions. At Finance, there are some budget positions, financial sector policy positions, international finance positions, and challenge function positions. At TBS, there are usually some challenge function positions and positions at other areas of TBS like expenditure management systems.

2. Yes, that's true. In my opinion and based on my experience, doing the program sets you way ahead of people who enter the government through other development programs.

3. I would recommend the APAP over any other development program, but obviously I am biased. With the APAP, you get experience across all of the central agencies which serves you will throughout your career. However, I wouldn't worry too much about ranking development programs until/unless you actually have to make a decision about accepting competing offers. I think it would be short-sighted to pick a program based on one year of salary. I don't think it's possible to start at a level higher than EC-3. I know someone who was an indeterminate EC-5 that had to drop levels to do the program.
Newbie
Nov 30, 2016
2 posts
Hey eiad77, thanks for doing this and for providing detailed tips.
Last week I received the confirmation I have been pre-selected for the interviews next January. I see this thread is not (yet) flooded with questions, I hope this means there are not too many people preselected hehe.
3 questions:
- Regarding your last answer on placement options, I'm concerned about my chances to be a good fit for the Department of Financement placement as I don't have any experience or education in finance or budgeting (maybe there is hope with the challenge function positions?). Do candidates with business/administration or finance backgrounds have a big advantage for this reason?

- I've read that each participants is sponsored by a specific department and that they must work there for at least one year after the program. How are the participants and their sponsoring department 'matched'? Is it the departments that choose the candidates based on their profile?

- Do you have any suggestions to better prepare for the interview? I understand the process is only a one-round interview so one better be prepared.

Thank you
Newbie
Mar 31, 2010
29 posts
Thanks for starting this thread; Some valuable advice.

Would you recommend someone like me who is interested in working for the federal government to seriously look into and attempt?

A bit about me:
- 30 Years old
- Bachelors Degree
- Working as a Financial Analyst (been doing so for the past 5 to 6 years - multiple contract plus permanent role now) - Just not really interested in the work and corporate culture in general despite the fact that I am making decent money (>$75k)

- Don't mind doing a masters program. Flexible to a certain extent with what to study. The MPA program at University of Ottawa does seem to be of interest.

It seems like getting a masters really is the only way to open doors for entry into the federal government. I really do like the concept of rotational placements from a learning and exposure perspective.

Any suggestions/feedback would be great.

Thanks again!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 15, 2010
1693 posts
246 upvotes
lula1997 wrote:
Dec 1st, 2016 9:48 am
Hey eiad77, thanks for doing this and for providing detailed tips.
Last week I received the confirmation I have been pre-selected for the interviews next January. I see this thread is not (yet) flooded with questions, I hope this means there are not too many people preselected hehe.
3 questions:
1. Regarding your last answer on placement options, I'm concerned about my chances to be a good fit for the Department of Financement placement as I don't have any experience or education in finance or budgeting (maybe there is hope with the challenge function positions?). Do candidates with business/administration or finance backgrounds have a big advantage for this reason?

2. I've read that each participants is sponsored by a specific department and that they must work there for at least one year after the program. How are the participants and their sponsoring department 'matched'? Is it the departments that choose the candidates based on their profile?

3. Do you have any suggestions to better prepare for the interview? I understand the process is only a one-round interview so one better be prepared.

Thank you
1. The Department of Finance does a lot more than financial sector regulation and producing the budget, so I wouldn't worry too much about a lack of experience in finance. Most people who enter the program have very little financial sector experience. People with a background in these areas would have an advantage for some specific placements, but I wouldn't worry too much about it.

2. Participants and sponsoring departments are matched based on mutual rankings. Participants rank their preferred departments and vice versa. Usually departments prefer participants with some background in their subject area but each department is free to rank participants however they want.

3. The most important thing for the interview is to practice. It is important to give well-structured thoughtful answers and the more practice you have doing so, the better you will perform. It is also important to be familiar with what is being evaluated during the interview and to do a bit of studying in these areas. For example, I think one of the knowledge areas being evaluated is "knowledge of economic principles" or something like that, so you should be familiar with and comfortable talking about major economic concepts.

Good luck with the interview.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 15, 2010
1693 posts
246 upvotes
geniuspaki wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2016 10:52 am
Thanks for starting this thread; Some valuable advice.

Would you recommend someone like me who is interested in working for the federal government to seriously look into and attempt?

A bit about me:
- 30 Years old
- Bachelors Degree
- Working as a Financial Analyst (been doing so for the past 5 to 6 years - multiple contract plus permanent role now) - Just not really interested in the work and corporate culture in general despite the fact that I am making decent money (>$75k)

- Don't mind doing a masters program. Flexible to a certain extent with what to study. The MPA program at University of Ottawa does seem to be of interest.

It seems like getting a masters really is the only way to open doors for entry into the federal government. I really do like the concept of rotational placements from a learning and exposure perspective.

Any suggestions/feedback would be great.

Thanks again!
If you are serious about joining the federal government, I would recommend applying to some competitions that are open to the public. Based on your experience, it seems like you might be able to qualify for FI-2 or FI-3 (financial analyst) jobs. Go to jobs.gc.ca and search for jobs in the FI classification group to see what is available.

Personally, I'd be reluctant to make a major career change to policy given your position. You'd have to invest 2 years of education and you wouldn't necessarily get a job with the federal government when you finished. Even if you did, it would likely be worse in terms of money and job security than what you have now. Most MPA graduates enter at the EC-2 level and have to do contracts for a few years before they become permanent. Even then, you might not like the government more than you like your current job.

I hope that helps.
Newbie
Nov 30, 2016
2 posts
Thanks for your answer! I will try and practice a bit during the holidays for the interview.
eiad77 wrote:
Dec 2nd, 2016 10:05 pm
1. The Department of Finance does a lot more than financial sector regulation and producing the budget, so I wouldn't worry too much about a lack of experience in finance. Most people who enter the program have very little financial sector experience. People with a background in these areas would have an advantage for some specific placements, but I wouldn't worry too much about it.

2. Participants and sponsoring departments are matched based on mutual rankings. Participants rank their preferred departments and vice versa. Usually departments prefer participants with some background in their subject area but each department is free to rank participants however they want.

3. The most important thing for the interview is to practice. It is important to give well-structured thoughtful answers and the more practice you have doing so, the better you will perform. It is also important to be familiar with what is being evaluated during the interview and to do a bit of studying in these areas. For example, I think one of the knowledge areas being evaluated is "knowledge of economic principles" or something like that, so you should be familiar with and comfortable talking about major economic concepts.

Good luck with the interview.
Newbie
Mar 12, 2017
28 posts
4 upvotes
Hey! Anyone apply for APAP this year? I heard on Dec 4th that I got an interview!

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