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Jesse Sopko

Municipal Internship Alumni Spotlight 

Jesse Sopko

Assessment Review Board Officer, City of Edmonton

Administrator Intern, Northern Sunrise County/Town of Peace River 2011-2012

Educational Background:

Bachelor of Arts (Political Science), University of Alberta

How did the Municipal Internship Program benefit you?

The most beneficial aspect of participating in the Municipal Internship Program is the numerous professional development and networking opportunities that are available to participants. Interns are able to fast-track their careers by continuing their education after college or university, while simultaneously developing a network and gaining valuable years of professional experience. Once completed their internship, alumni have well-rounded, impressive resumes that are attractive to potential employers.

What was your most memorable experience as an intern?

My most memorable experience was participating as an Information Officer in the Northern Sunrise County Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) during my second week as an intern, during a state of local emergency caused by forest fires. This was a unique opportunity to connect with my co-workers on a deeper level, and to fully appreciate the commitment of municipal employees as they worked rotating 12-hour shifts in the EOC for over a week.

What experience had the greatest impact during your internship?

My most impactful experience as an intern was working with my supervisor on a daily basis, and learning of the challenges he faced in his position. This included meetings with our regional water service commission and waste management authority. I learned very early how to take meeting minutes, and that got me invited to almost every meeting.

How do you feel your time in the Municipal Internship Program helped prepare you for your career?

The Municipal Internship Program has provided me a strong network of peers who I can contact when I need advice on a project or initiative. Regardless of the size or location of the municipality, all communities face similar challenges. Tap into your contacts for their expertise, and share your knowledge with others.

What do you find most rewarding about working in the municipal government field?

The most rewarding part about working in local government is the immediate gratification from seeing your efforts at work. In other levels of government, it can take weeks or months to have your project reviewed by various levels of management, and hopefully, approved and implemented. In smaller communities, it is easier to influence decision-makers and make an immediate impact on the organization and the community you serve. 

What has been the highlight of your career?

The highlight of my career was successfully fulfilling my duties as the Returning Officer in the 2013 Municipal Election in Northern Sunrise County. I had the opportunity to facilitate democracy and ensure the legislated processes were followed. 

Advice for Interns:

During Their Internship

Take the lead on projects early in your internship, and demonstrate your value. While it is important to have exposure to, and appreciation of, all municipal service areas, most interns will not be professional Zamboni drivers or weed inspectors. Talk to your supervisor about reviewing outdated policies, or use your social media savvy to administer your municipality’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Leave your mark and finish your internship with a list of projects that you led or were instrumental in seeing through to implementation.

After Their Internship

Be open to relocating for a new opportunity, and gain experience working in both rural and urban municipalities to understand the challenges and opportunities that exist in both.


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