Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Intern Blog: From Backpack to Briefcase by Graham Rotenberg


Monday, September 6, 2012 probably isn’t a memorable day for many of you reading this blog post. However, for me, that day holds a significant amount of meaning as it marks the day that I became the last remaining Toronto resident out of all of my friends from high school. That week in early September, my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with photos from university orientations across the country and the United States. Needless to say, my envy was almost unbearable.

However, I soon realized two things; first, that I would be able to visit my friends at their respective universities and ultimately experience the social life that they were so enjoying and second, though I may be missing out on something my friends were currently reveling in, while in Toronto, I would be afforded the opportunity to learn with experienced professionals in a field that I have been passionate about for much of my life.

One of the major shifts I have noticed between my role as a high school student and my role as an intern at CJPAC is a fundamental difference in required skill sets. At school, I was required to listen attentively, raise my hand to answer questions and understand that it is the teacher who will drive content and discussion based on their curriculum requirements and academic agenda. At work, it is the opposite. I am responsible for contributing to the content of the organization and am expected to participate as an active member of the team. Although this can feel daunting at times, it is incredibly exciting. Instead of dealing in the theoretical, I am given an opportunity to have a tangible impact by voicing my views, ideas and opinions in a professional setting.

The second dramatic difference I have noted between the academic world and the professional one is the community. I attended an all boys school for essentially my entire life. I have been surrounded by the same people for, in some cases, ten years. Saying goodbye last year was incredibly tough — but I knew that it was time. In the workplace, I have found that people are exceptionally friendly, care an awful lot about their jobs and are very well versed in politics. This provides more intellectually stimulating conversation as well as insight into what my future could hold.

In school I was required to take classes in a vast array of disciplines. This was important because it allowed me to develop a variety of options for university and exposed me to what I liked and what I didn’t like. However, the thing I’ve enjoyed most about working is that the vast majority of my time is spent doing what I am interested in! I am able to explore and gain an understanding of the intricacies of politics, policy and the role we all play in the process. Hopefully, this will give me a better idea of what I’d like to focus on when I go off to university next year.

Finally, office life has taught me some valuable life skills that differ from those I acquired at school. I have learned that working in an office provides you with a lot of different perspectives on issues — particularly in a multi-partisan office like CJPAC. This environment makes for lively, opinionated discussions and is an important part of the office culture.

I look forward to more experiences going forward and cannot wait for the opportunity to share them!

Until next time,

Graham