BA: Major in Geography and Minor in International Relations

Where did Ayan work? 

Work Term 1 and 2 (8 months):

Research and Knowledge Mobilization, Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI)

What did Ayan accomplish?

Main Tasks

Ayan has been working on a few main projects during his work term with CIRDI. The first is a Community Benefit Agreement ToolKit, intended to be a decision-useful support framework for governments seeking to enhance transparency and accountability in the governance of Benefit Agreements. The Toolkit’s focus is on building state capacity to aid in the monitoring and evaluation of Benefit Agreements between mining companies and local communities. For this project, as an initial step, Ayan is undertaking a comprehensive literature review, looking at over 100 policy-oriented articles to help CIRDI identify the knowledge gaps that they must fill to make the toolkit genuinely helpful for communities, governments, and mining proponents around the world.

The second project is Transparency International’s Mining for Sustainable Development Program. This project is an assessment of the transparency and corruption risks in the mine permitting and licensing process in BC and Yukon. For this project, Ayan is responsible for compiling case studies and legislative research to substantiate the corruption and transparency risks identified in the Environmental Impact Assessment processes. Additionally, he is also responsible for stakeholder outreach and convening focus groups for further research.

Major Accomplishment

Ayan stated that through his projects and networking with various colleagues and partners at CIRDI, he has gained practical experience and exposure to negotiating the balance between sustainability and development. “It’s helped me recognize the imperative of working in sync with all levels of government, institutions, enterprises, and people in a nation to ensure multi-level and multi-sectoral growth,” he explains. Ayan also states that the cultivation of this new perspective will be his greatest asset, particularly during a time of climate change, that will require the world to coordinate on every scale, testing one’s ability to foster equitable development in such intricate and delicate multi-stakeholder scenarios.

What challenges did Ayan overcome? 

As most of Ayan’s work is research and analysis, he expressed that it often takes a lot of thinking, not just reading, which can be mentally exhausting at times. As he is working alongside other researchers, his work process needs to be recorded and analysis needs to be tracked in a sophisticated manner. Moreover, he needs to use software that codes content for each piece of literature he’s reading. Therefore, he found a solution by dividing up other project tasks depending on how mentally demanding they are. “Visual plans in my calendar have helped relieve stress. It has allowed me to put 100% of my time at hand to a specific task knowing I have made time later for the other ones,” Ayan stated.

How did Arts Co-op Benefit Ayan? 

Link between Academics and Work

As Ayan’s degree in Geography has relevance to his work term at CIRDI, Ayan stated that his “co-op work term with CIRDI has definitely benefited [his] academics as well.” In fact, his motivation to apply to CIRDI was the relevance to the elements of his degree and interests, which is why he stayed a consecutive second term. It has allowed him to make sense of theoretical processes he has learned in class and turn theory into practice. Through this work term, Ayan has uncovered many new interests in topics that he would like to further pursue through his academics and work.

Preparation for Post-Graduation

Ayan feels the stress of figuring out what to do post-graduation lifted from his shoulders. Being in the UBC Arts Co-op Program has given him direction in post-graduate work and areas to pursue and learn more about. In fact, his work and constant research have given him a foundation for a master’s thesis, which he will likely be pursuing later. Ayan states that he has been lucky that his work term with CIRDI has been exactly the type of work he wants to be doing post-graduation.

What is Ayan’s favorite part of Arts Co-op?

“For anyone who’s ever asked me, I’ve always said co-op as an experimentation phase for you to see whether the job and sector you’re placed in really suits you,” Ayan claimed. He appreciates how students can work for three different companies, for four months each and get a feel of what they like while exploring different sectors. Lastly, he stated that co-op has an excellent support system and sets students up for success through the assignments that enable thoughtful reflective learning.


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