When people find out that I work at the Canadian Studies Center (CSC) at MSU, almost everyone asks me the same two questions. 1) Am I Canadian? And 2) MSU has a Canadian Studies Center? The answer to the first question is no. I am not Canadian. I am quite the mix of ethnicities, but Canadian is not one. The answer to the second question is yes. MSU does have a Canadian Studies Center. Not only does it have a center, but our center is the oldest university based Canadian Studies Center in the nation. Established in 1958 by A.J.M Smith, Poet Laureate of Canada and Russel Nye, Pulitzer Prize winning author, the Canadian Studies Center has been functioning at MSU for over 50 years to help foster learning, research, and outreach opportunities related to all aspects of Canada and its role in the world. And that’s just the center alone. The MSU Press publishes more scholarly books on Canada than any other university press in the U.S., and the MSU Main Library is an official repository for Canadian government documents. MSU and Canada are entwined in so many relationships it’s astonishing to me that more people aren’t aware of it.
And that brings me to how I ended up working at the Canadian Studies Center. In the spring of my freshman year here at MSU, one of my professors had a guest speak at the beginning of one of our lectures. The woman was from the Canadian Studies Center and was letting us know that the center was looking for students interested in applying for internships with the office and that there would be a scholarship available for interns as well. I took a flyer, but I initially didn’t think much of it. Like most others, I had no idea that there was a Canadian Studies Center on campus, but if there was a scholarship opportunity I felt that I owed it to myself to look into the details at the very least. But, as time passed I ended up doing nothing about it.
Fast forward to the spring semester of my sophomore year. I had begun thinking about whether or not graduate school was something I potentially wanted to pursue after I got my degree from MSU. It’s true, I had another two years before this would become an immediate concern, and some people might think me odd for trying to plan out my future so early. But that’s just me. I’m a planner, always have been and always will be. So I started to look into Universities that have good anthropology graduate programs. My search uncovered many universities within the U.S.; but the school that I kept finding myself coming back to was, you guessed it, in Canada. Realizing that this school was in Canada made me think about the Canadian Studies Center and my lack of follow through from the year before. As my disappointment in myself grew, I decided to email the center and see if they were looking for interns again.
Lo and behold when I logged into my email, I had an email from my adviser advertising that the Canadian Studies Center was once again looking for interns. Taking this as a sign that I was meant to work at the Canadian Studies Center I immediately updated my resume to send in. Within a few weeks I had secured an interview, and eventually an internship position with the center.
Currently, I’ve been with the center for about a year now. While it’s been hectic at times, it’s been completely worth it. I’ve been blessed with more opportunities than I ever dreamed this position could give me. I initially thought the biggest advantage I would have from joining the center is being able to increase my chances of getting into a Canadian university. But I’ve been given so much more. Having the opportunities to meet and network with professionals from all fields has helped me learn what type of problems are affecting our society and the skills employers are looking for. I’ve met people who have become mentors that have given me countless bits of advice and assistance when it comes to anything from needing a letter of recommendation to helping me find additional work and scholarship opportunities. I’ve gotten to travel and speak in front of people, and my leadership skills have never been better. I feel more innovative and confident about my ideas. I’ve learned how to propose a project and maintain databases; and my arts and crafts skills have been put to the test.
When I first started working at the Canadian Studies Center my main thought was “What can the center do to forward my career?”, but the longer I’m here, the more I keep thinking about what I can do for the center. And that, is the most valuable thing I have gained.