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Field placements

As an MDP student, you are required to spend a minimum of three to four months gaining practical experience through a program-approved field placement or internship. The placement is normally completed during Spring Term before returning to campus for a final term of coursework. In your final term, you will have the opportunity to participate and present papers at the International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice (ICSDP) in New York.

How to apply

In Fall Term, you will meet with Gráinne Ryder, Manager, International Work Experience for MDP, to review the guidelines for securing a Spring Term placement, and assist you with your search and application process. You will also have the opportunity to meet with the returning MDP students to learn about their experiences and discuss prospective placements for Spring Term.  Note: the program makes no guarantee that you will be selected for the placement of your choice.

Where to apply 

MDP Waterloo believes the best practice approach to gaining professional experience and skills development in the field of global sustainable development is through a placement with a development organization or initiative in a developing country or region. MDP Waterloo connects students with a range of placement opportunities globally.

Placements are offered through partnership with development organizations, including World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Cuso International. Note: students without Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status may face some restrictions depending on visa policies in placement countries.

Placements offered to MDP by Canadian partner organizations are normally posted late Fall/early Winter Term. Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements and there are no guarantees that students will receive their first choice placement. Final decisions on student selection are made by  host organizations.

MDP faculty networks

MDP faculty may occasionally suggest an organization in a developing country that may be willing to host an MDP student. In this case, students are required to notify the MDP field placement manager. The FPM will consult with the faculty member and prospective organization to establish viability, timeframe and placement mandate. Once verified, students will be provided instructions for application. Final decisions on student selection will be made by the host organization.

Global MDP network

The Global MDP network may occasionally offer placement opportunities via partner institutions such as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. Costs and conditions vary and are subject to change without notice.

United Nations agencies

United Nations agencies may offer placements through country-level offices or the United Nations Association of Canada's Junior Professional Consultant Program. See UN agency websites for further details. Note: UN internships often require a minimum six month commitment. Costs and conditions vary and are subject to change without notice.

Finding your own placement

Students have the option to pursue organizations of interest outside the networks and organizations listed above, provided they relate to global sustainable development. The opportunities are wide-ranging so it's important to begin defining your professional and geographical areas of interest early. When researching opportunities, note any eligibility, timing or cost requirements that may disqualify you from applying. This may include citizenship status, language ability or start/end dates.

Once a prospective host organization is identified, a pre-application form must be completed and submitted to the FPM for approval. If approved, students may proceed to formally apply to the organization. If accepted, the FPM will normally contact the organization and request a written agreement establishing roles and responsibilities for the duration of the placement. This agreement must be signed by the FPM, a representative of the host organization, and the student prior to Spring Term.

Students entering the program with an organization in mind are encouraged to meet with the FPM to verify suitability and next steps in Fall Term.

Eligible countries

If the Government of Canada has issued an advisory against travel to a particular country/region, placements in that country/region will normally not be approved. Consult the MDP field placement manager and check the Global Affairs Travel Advisory website for information about health and security risks abroad.

Finding your own placement in Canada

Students may opt to deviate from the best practice model and pursue a placement opportunity in Canada, with no guarantees from the university. In order to pursue a field placement in Canada, international students must meet the following criteria:

  • be eligible to work off campus and have the necessary background and skills to meet the requirements of the host organization
  • demonstrate that the organization and placement mandate is related to global sustainable development
  • complete and submit a pre-application form to the FPM; and
  • obtain approval for the placement from the FPM before Spring Term.

When to apply

You are encouraged to start your search for prospective host organizations early. The process of applying and final selection could take three to five months. Before applying for any placements, ensure  your CV is of professional quality, shows your academic and professional qualifications, and clearly articulates your interests/skills and career goals.

Choosing between offers

If you apply for multiple placements, you will likely hear back from more than one organization and will need to decide which one suits you best. Find out as much as you can about the organization, the type of work they might have you do, related costs, and what in-country support they can (and can not) provide. Don't rush your decision but do ask your host organization for a deadline by which to accept or decline.

Accepting offers

When accepting an offer you are obligated to commit to that organization and are expected to decline any subsequent offers. Be sure to notify your FPM about your decision. An agreement may be required and signed by you and your host organization.

Predeparture requirements for international placement

Students are required to comply with all university-wide and program-specific pre-departure requirements in order to obtain credit for INDEV 611 Field Placement Term. Your FPM will communicate these requirements in Fall and Winter Term prior to placement. For more information about the university's requirements, see Waterloo International's website.

Costs

Costs vary with location, type of host organization and program, and duration. For more information see the MDP's financial information page.

Financial support

MDP students are eligible for several scholarship opportunities. For more information see the MDP's financial information page.