Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Communications Security Establishment / CSE was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Communications Security Establishment created a Young Professionals Network to provide support and a collective voice for young employees -- the network hosts a number of events throughout the year including the annual Career Tradeshow, an open-house career expo for employees from across the organization to learn about available training and professional development opportunities
- Additionally, the Young Professionals Network assisted in the development of a dedicated recruitment strategy for young people and organized the "Take Me With You" program to encourage managers and senior leaders to give junior employees the opportunity to participate in high-level meetings
- Communications Security Establishment offers dedicated mentoring for new employees and co-op students, and recently created an online tool to help mentees match with appropriate mentors
Keeping a low profile while protecting Canadians at CSE
The work of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is by definition fascinating, personally rewarding for those who do it and, perhaps most of all, vitally important to the security and prosperity of the country. It involves electronic surveillance of foreign communications in order to protect Canada and Canadians from terrorism, espionage, foreign kidnappings and assaults on the country's embassies. It also involves tracking and monitoring cyber threats and using unique technical expertise to keep the networks and systems that Canadians rely on safe and secure.
But the Ottawa-based organization has a challenge, especially when it comes to recruiting young people. Reporting directly to the Minister of National Defence, the CSE has almost no profile outside the world of intelligence and security. "The public information about CSE is pretty light," says Scott Jones, Deputy Chief of IT Security. "We're trying to fill that gap by engaging people through our social media platforms and better use of our website."
Representatives of CSE attend campus job fairs and actively recruit at universities and colleges across the country, says Jones, and those who pause a minute to consider this low-profile organization may find themselves embarking on a career that is, well, fascinating and surprisingly diverse.
"This job is unique and especially rewarding," says Alison, a software engineer who can't say exactly what she does due to the sensitive nature of her work. Nor for that matter can she allow her last name to appear in print due to the terms of her security clearance. "At the end of the day, your work really matters."
Suffice to say her path into CSE began with attending a campus job fair that led to three stints as a co-op student while she was working on her degree. "I really didn't know anything about the organization, but it sounded really neat," she says. "Once I got in it was very easy to make your way around the organization. You got to know the managers. They make themselves available and there are information sessions where you learn about what happens in different parts of the organization."
CSE primarily hires graduates with technical degrees to work in its intelligence gathering and cyber security operations and these disciplines include computer science as well as software, electronic and electrical engineering. But the recruiting doesn't stop there.
"We are a multi-disciplined organization and recruit across the spectrum," says Jones. "We need linguistics graduates because we are intercepting communications in many foreign languages. We also need people to work in finance, legal, human resources and policy."
CSE typically hires 80 to 100 students for each of the fall, winter and summer sessions. Many are converted to full-time employees once they have completed their degrees.
The organization's Young Professionals Network ensures that new recruits are welcomed and have an opportunity to meet their peers. "It's really good for young people who have moved to Ottawa for the job and don't know anybody," says Alison. "The work can be intense and pretty heavy in terms of pressure so it's good to have friends in the organization."
CSE promotes engagement through its Take Me With You Program where younger employees can follow a manager or senior leader through a typical work day and attend high-level meetings. Indeed, Jones adds that the leadership often turns to junior colleagues to provide their insight, and unique point of view.
The organization has created another innovative program called My Path To My Job that is designed to show new recruits how they can enjoy a diverse and rewarding career. "There are a lot of opportunities at CSE," says Jones. "There's so much diversity here that you could pursue several paths in the organization over the course of your career."