For Clio Hofler from Roberts Creek, the summer of 2017 has been an extraordinary experience. For 17 weeks, from May 1 to August 25, Hofler was a summer intern with Sunshine Coast Sea-to-Sky Member of Parliament Pamela Goldsmith-Jones – a position that gave her an extraordinary opportunity to meet people from across Canada and gain hands-on skills.
When asked how she got her internship position, Hofler laughs.
“It was a fluke. It was late at night and I was browsing Twitter and I just happened to follow Justin Trudeau and he tweeted about this program,” she said. On the spur of the moment, she applied.
Hofler, who is 19, grew up in Roberts Creek, graduated from Elphinstone Secondary in 2016, and is currently a student at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. She beat out thousands of other applicants to get a spot in the program.
“It’s a pretty competitive opportunity,” said Goldsmith-Jones. “The Prime Minister’s idea is the more young people engaged in Ottawa and public policy and their community, the better for Canada.”
Goldsmith-Jones said her only reservation in hiring Hofler was her age. The program accepted applicants up to 30, and Goldsmith-Jones was worried that the job might be too much. “It’s intense and a heavy workload. I wouldn’t want her to be overwhelmed.”
But Hofler thrived in the role. “I would hire her tomorrow full time,” said Goldsmith-Jones.
For the first two months, Hofler worked at the MP’s constituency office in Ottawa, where she helped the legislative assistants with day to day work such as filing and drafting letters. But she also was able to accompany Goldsmith-Jones to official events, taking photos and meeting people.
“I tried to make it as interesting as possible,” said Goldsmith-Jones.
A highlight for Hofler, was a dinner for Harvard business women at the Chateau Laurier Hotel. Goldsmith-Jones was invited as parliamentary secretary for international trade, but could only stay for the reception, so Hofler took her place at the table where she enjoyed stimulating dinner conversation among a group of highly educated, well-travelled women.
When the House of Commons rose, Hofler returned to the coast and worked from the MP’s office in Horseshoe Bay. She helped organize the food policy forums in this riding, and drafted a report from the community that will be submitted to the minister of agriculture.
Hofler admits that it was a challenging job. It was also a “growing experience” to come from a relatively isolated community like the Sunshine Coast and meet people from all over the country with different values and opinions. “It really opened my eyes,” said Hofler, noting that she gained skills in “how to critically think and assess things.”
Hofler admits that she is considering government as an option in her future, after she finishes her commerce degree. She has a new appreciation of the role of legislation and public policy, and she gained hands on experience with media relations and public service.
“It’s been a ride,” said Hofler. “You can’t gain this education in school.”