Rachel BealsMA alumna | Political Science

Rachel Beals fell in love at first sight with political science. It happened in a first-year World Politics course during her B.A. at the University of Guelph. “I know it sounds cheesy and I thought it only happened in the movies,” she says, “but I loved it immediately.” But after graduation, Rachel was looking for more.

“I wanted to learn more about qualitative and quantitative research; I wanted to do more in-depth analysis. I wanted to be challenged,” says Rachel. The University of Waterloo’s co-op program was the clincher for Rachel. “I knew I had skills” from her B.A., she says, “And I wanted to develop them, but I also wanted to apply them.”

While hunting for a co-op placement for her M.A. in Political Science at Waterloo, she found her dream placement. “I applied to maybe 20-30 placements,” she says, “But when I saw Northern Policy Institute’s description, I knew it was perfect.’”

rachel bealsShe got it and spent that summer in an office at Northern College’s campus in Timmins. One project there examined why First Nations students chose colleges other than Northern. As part of another project, Rachel sent interns out on road trips to help examine what directional signage was like in the area—critical in a big region with intermittent cell service and few gas stations. Her blog post about that experience landed her a radio interview with Up North CBC.

When NPI posted a Policy Analyst job at their Sudbury office this January, it was a natural choice for Rachel.

Rachel waxes enthusiastic about her job—“I love the people, the projects, the environment”—but what she loves most about her current work with NPI, she says, is the complexity: “Being able to challenge yourself mentally, to exercise those critical thinking and decision-making skills—to work through problems for the betterment of a project. It’s really satisfying.” She says her studies in Humanities gave her the groundwork to handle that complexity: “My M.A. thesis was an intensive research process that involved a lot of information gathering, decision-making and analysis. These tasks are a constant presence in what I do now.”

“Sometimes there just isn’t an easy answer, and studying Humanities really prepares you for that. Politics is complicated, and policy is complicated. You have to realize that for one problem there are maybe twenty related issues.”