BA 2010: Major Political Science, Minor International Relations


Peter Lee’s co-op work terms with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) could not have been more in sync with his academic background. A recent graduate of Political Science and International Relations, Peter has made a strong connection between his studies, co-op terms, and future career ideas: “My work term at NUS opened my eyes to the Asia-Pacific region in a professional academic environment, while at DFAIT it was easy to see how my studies were (or weren’t) reflected in policy work.”

For his first Co-op term, Peter worked as a Research Assistant with the Asia Research Institute within NUS. He conducted data mining and quantitative research under two research leaders, and was instrumental in the logistical planning and execution of events, workshops, and academic conferences. In fact, he helped organize 6 large scale academic conferences in one summer work term alone! Peter’s rich work term experiences continued with 8 months at DFAIT’s North Asia Commercial Relations division, developing briefing materials, presentations, and marketing materials centred on trade relations between Canada and China.

These work terms taught Peter how to work effectively in a dynamic environment with tight deadlines. He states, “When your supervisor comes to you at 4 pm in the afternoon asking you to finish a briefing note within the next hour – time management and flexibility become very important.”  These new skills, along with memorable experiences such as preparing briefing materials for the Minister of International Trade’s trip to China in March 2009, have truly enhanced Peter’s career prospects in international diplomacy. “I’ve enjoyed my studies,” he says, “but through my work terms, I fell in love with what I was doing. I am now excited to see where these career paths lead.”

Peter’s work terms have already led him to great opportunities before graduation. Because of his experience and connections from the networks he built, Peter was offered work on the logistical planning for the G20 Summit in Toronto in June 2010. Offers to help host top level world leaders certainly don’t come often, making amazing opportunities like these “unparalleled to what you would find without Co-op.”

He has sound advice for students hoping to work internationally: “Be active in trying to search for international placements; there are few, but they are there. If the opportunity is there, take it! There is no point in hesitating, for these opportunities might not be the same or even exist by the time your last term rolls around.”

Peter Lee entered the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) as a Co-op student, and left as a Junior Trade Commissioner. With solidified career goals and a fine-tuned skill set in research and events planning, Peter can be confident in his professional success post-graduation.