Jeff Bassendowski, Director, Planning, Reporting and Accountability Branch, Ministry of Immigration and Career Training, Government of Saskatchewan
Jeff Bassendowski, Director, Planning, Reporting and Accountability Branch, Ministry of Immigration and Career Training, Government of Saskatchewan

Mentoring the next generation of public servants

Jeff Bassendowski is currently the Director of the Planning, Reporting and Accountability Branch in the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training with the Government of Saskatchewan (GoS). He has ten years of experience in four different ministries with experience in corporate services, policy, strategic planning, legislation and continuous improvement.

A New Passion

Before attending the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS), Jeff obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in English in 2009. While studying as an undergraduate student, a friend exposed him to the value of graduate studies in public policy. His informal mentor, Mark Anderson advised him that “it’s a solid career option with an opportunity to do some good.”

Jeff discovered that his personal policy-related interests lay heavily in healthcare and improving the healthcare system in the province.

“Public health is a key driver in the province and connects to all aspects of citizens lives,” said Jeff. “Good health policy has the potential to impact the economics and growth of the province, the services we provide as a government and the quality of life for our citizens.”

With these new interests in healthcare and policy, he refocused his studies on healthcare, health economics, and health policy.

Getting Involved

In 2010, Jeff was able to use his passion for policy while he was involved with the JSGS Executive Internship program. He found that this internship experience with the Ministry of Government Relations was integral in building the foundation for his career in government. The varied experience in government processes and functions in the program were beneficial in building an understanding of the organization, and the processes within it.

“The most important thing about the internship is to get real, tangible project experience that you can put on your resume. Have your mentor treat you as a contributing member of the team, as opposed to just job shadowing,” said Jeff. “You can’t put “went to meetings” on your resume and still expect a job opportunity. Work for it and PROVE YOUR VALUE to the organization.”

He found the internship to be a terrific experience. Over the course of eight months, Jeff was able to work closely with his mentors to delve into real projects and gain tangible experience. These projects ranged from writing legislative changes to voter identification regulations for municipal elections, to analyzing labour mobility legislation under the New West Partnership for the Ministry of Government Relations. In addition to his internship, Jeff has also worked on a variety of projects with various ministries. This has included work with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure on developing a proposal for a large infrastructure project for the High Clearance Corridor network, work with the Public Service Commission on the creation and implementation of a Strategic Human Resource Policy Framework, and work with the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training to assist a new, high-performing team to meet its strategic planning, reporting and accountability deliverables.

“My internship mentor, Rod Nasewich, provided me with real opportunities to work on/support impactful projects with meaning. I was able to learn and grow as a new public servant based on that guidance and opportunity,” said Jeff.

Passing the Torch

Since graduating with his Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree in 2011, Jeff has continued to support the JSGS through regular participation in the Executive Internship program. He has worked with/mentored six different interns in his career, all of which have secured senior-level policy, evaluation, or planning positions. 

“Since [my internship] I have been heavily involved with the JSGS internship and have worked with six different interns. I applied the same approach and principles to providing good opportunities, and every single intern has moved forward to senior policy, evaluation, or management opportunities,” said Jeff. “There is nothing that makes me prouder than seeing an intern I have worked with, excel in their next career step.”

The internship experience is so much more than just job-shadowing. Jeff reflects that obtaining experience on real projects allows you to build your skills and showcases your ability to add value to future positions, ministries, and employers.

Note to Future Students

To current and future students, Jeff recommends that they absorb and learn as much as they can, and that they build a theoretical base throughout their program.

“Choose classes that not only apply to your degree, but you also have a passion for. The MPA program and a career in government provides you the opportunity to make tangible change for your community, province and potentially Canada.

Policy decisions can be wide-reaching and have positive impacts on a diverse population. Making effective, evidence-based decisions will help drive our economy into the future and improve Saskatchewan people’s quality of life.