How'd You Get That Job? Samara talks to an Analyst at the Library of Parliament

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How'd You Get That Job? Monday, July 14, 2014 View Count = 5495

How'd You Get That Job? Samara talks to an Analyst at the Library of Parliament


The beautiful Library of Parliament. All photos from the Library's flikr account.


Laura Munn-Rivard is an Analyst in the Parliamentary Information and Research Service, a branch of the Library of Parliament. Born and raised in Ottawa, she attended the University of Ottawa and earned an undergraduate degree in political science and history. She also received a Master’s Degree in political science at the University of British Columbia, where her thesis focused on the intersection of identity and municipal politics. Since 2009, she has had the opportunity to work with exceptional colleagues at the Library of Parliament.


What inspired you to pursue work at the Library of Parliament?

While I was growing up, my family’s conversations revolved around the government, current events and the parliamentary process. These discussions inspired me throughout my youth and university career to study political science and history. With a passion for the parliamentary system and a desire to expand my knowledge of the parliamentary process, I pursued employment opportunities on Parliament Hill, which led me to obtain my job as an Analyst at the Library of Parliament. This job provides me with the chance to watch the excitement of the Hill up-close, while remaining in neutral, non-partisan territory. It is the best of both worlds.

How did you become an analyst? What path brought you to that specific role?

During my undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Ottawa, I worked as a guide for the Parliamentary Guide Program, providing tours of the Parliament Buildings in both French and English to the general public and to diplomatic groups. This was my first job with the Library of Parliament because the guide program is administered by a branch of the Library.

During my student years, I held a number of jobs in the guiding field, all of which cemented my love for delivering information in a clear, concise way and my desire to work in a client-driven environment – two important aspects of my current job. Following my time as a guide of the Parliament Building’s Centre Block, I also worked as a guide at Parliament Hill’s East Block, as a manager of the outdoor tours of the Parliamentary grounds which are run by the National Capital Commission, and as a guide at the Juno Beach Centre, a Canadian Second World War museum and cultural centre located on Canada’s D-Day beach in Normandy, France.

As I was completing my Master’s Degree in political science at the University of British Columbia, I was hired by the Library of Parliament internship program (currently suspended, but there still is a Parliamentary Intern Program under the auspices of the Speaker of the House of Commons). In this position, I conducted research and answered requests as a member of the Parliamentary Information and Research Service (PIRS). When my internship wrapped up, I applied for a permanent position at PIRS as an Analyst.

What does a day-in-the-life of an analyst look like/ What does an analyst actually do?

The Library of Parliament has four service areas: the Parliamentary Information and Research Service, the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Information and Document Resource Service, and Corporate Services. As an Analyst at PIRS, I am a member of a team that provides Parliamentarians with news, reference, research and analysis services, and processes requests for information and outreach services from Parliamentarians and the public. We serve Parliamentarians and their staff, Parliamentary committees, organizations that support Parliament, and the Canadian public on behalf of Parliamentarians.

As an Analyst, my work includes responding to requests for research and analysis from Parliamentarians. The requests that are directed my way focus on my areas of specialization: housing and homelessness in Canada or women and gender issues in Canada and at the international level.

I also write background papers, briefing notes and reports for the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women (FEWO). Most analysts are assigned to a House of Commons or Senate Committee, where we provide research and analysis services; currently, I am the Analyst assigned to FEWO. In this role, I also meet with the clerk of the Committee to discuss upcoming work, and meet with the Chair of the Committee to answer any subject questions. As well, I attend FEWO’s weekly meetings to provide any required research assistance to the Committee.

In addition, I offer research and analysis support through oral briefings or written briefing binders to Parliamentarians who are attending official meetings or events, often carried out as part of Canada’s membership in 12 Parliamentary Associations and Interparliamentary Groups. These groups include for example the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association or the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie. 

A final element of my work includes writing general distribution publications on a topic that is relevant and timely for Parliamentarians.

What has been your favourite moment in this job?

One of my favourite moments in this job was my recent travel as an Analyst for a group of Parliamentarians to a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City for the 58th Commission on the Status of Women. During an extended day of back-to-back sessions, hundreds of Parliamentarians – mostly women – from around the world discussed the progress of the Millennium Development Goals set to conclude in 2015, the successes and challenges that remain for women worldwide, and the path for the next set of Sustainable Development Goals. I felt fortunate to provide support to Canada’s participating Parliamentarians throughout these significant meetings.

What skills or expertise are required for this job?

To begin, the job of an Analyst requires strong research skills. I must extensively search the Library of Parliament resources, such as policy papers, academic literature, e-books, and more.

Another skill set required for the job is team-work and multidisciplinary collaboration. The analysts and librarians at the Library of Parliament are asked to conduct research on topics ranging from fisheries to rail safety to women’s rights to the economy, and beyond. It’s critical therefore that Library employees work collaboratively as everyone has their own area of specialized knowledge.  

The job also requires the ability to learn quickly and to work under pressure because Parliamentarians must address emerging issues as fast as possible and the Library of Parliament must in turn respond with the pertinent information on a timely basis.    

Finally, my job requires strong communication skills and effective interpersonal skills because our workplace is a client-driven environment. While conducting my work, I establish solid professional relationships with Parliamentarians, their staff, and employees of the House of Commons and Senate.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a job like yours? What is a good first step for them to take?

For those who would like to work on Parliament Hill, my advice is to focus on your passion – in my case, the Parliamentary process – and find a job in that field. For any students with a love of the Parliamentary process, I would recommend that they apply for the Library of Parliament’s guide program as it provides insight into the functioning of Parliament Hill.

Most importantly, check for employment opportunities at the Library of Parliament, and take a look at the competency profiles for various positions.



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