Caroline Law: Special Assistant to a City of Toronto Councillor and Green Party of Ontario Provincial Executive

1. What does a typical Thursday look like for you, starting from when you wake up – to heading to bed?

7:00am—alarm goes off. Listen to the CBC until 7:38, reluctantly get out of bed after the 7:30 news.

7:38 to 8:08am – get ready and have breakfast. Breakfast is the most important part of the day, it cannot be skipped.

8:08 to 8:50—streetcar ride, when I read the Globe and Mail

8:50—get to the office, have a glass of water and make a glass of green tea. I find hydrating extremely important first thing in the morning and throughout the day.

9am-5pm—it can be a variety of things:

  • Answering constituent calls/emails/letters—it can be anything from complaint about snow removal to “my neighbour’s tree is dropping apples on my side of the property”

  • Scheduling or attending meetings

  • Organizing community events

  • Working with staff on items that are going to committee or City Council

  • Reading committee agenda and other communications

  • Updating website

After 5pm—it can be one or a combination of the followings:

  • working at the constituency office in Scarborough to meet constituents till 7pm

  • Going for a run at the beach

  • Cooking and eating dinner at home

  • As a member of the provincial executive for the Green Party of Ontario, I usually have to spend my evenings reading emails and handling party business.

  • As member of a few other boards, sometimes I have to attend board of director meetings in the evening

11pm—shower, maybe have a beer, then spend a lot of time brushing my teeth and flossing, try to go to bed before 1am.

2. What was your first job out of school?

Internship in Athens for a human rights organization editing human rights reports about minority groups in the Balkans.

3. What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?

  1. Communicating

  2. Problem solving

  3. Organization

4. What do you love most about your career?

It has been a non-stop action movie! The adventurous start of my political career began when I was elected student representative while doing my master’s in Bosnia.

I had a bar tap surplus while organizing peacekeeping courses for the military because everyone was trying to buy me beer.

I was abruptly sent to the palace nurse during one of my pre-deployment training sessions at the Austro-Hungarian palace in Vienna because the person sitting next to me accidentally poked my eye with her pen.

A meeting with some Croatian politicians in a small town turned into a televised yelling match, and we had to run out of the room to avoid the flock of journalists.

Worked in a Toronto municipal election campaign that won by a whooping 89 votes in a riding of 30,000 eligible voters. Being a candidate myself at the last Provincial election, it was fun—I discovered I really like to argue with people and I love red lipstick for TV appearances because it looks good and really helps with confidence.

5. If a woman wanted to get into this business, what are your recommendations of how they should start?

Do lots of internships, volunteer at organizations and election campaigns, learn languages, and network with people in the area you want to work in.

6. Do you have any warnings?

Politics at any level are competitive in nature—whether it is getting rejected by the UN a hundred times for an unpaid internship in Geneva because 4000 other qualified people applied, or running against friends from the same political party at a nomination, running against other candidates in an election, dealing with office politics once you get the job—you don’t always win. Whether winning or losing, it is the experience that counts. One time I dressed up as green superhero and played base drum at the Pride Parade for the Green Party, another time I went on a motorcycle camping trip with my co-worker in Croatia slept in the wild in pouring weather…Bad experiences are necessary in order to really appreciate future positive experiences.

Most jobs are not as glamorous or fun as they first seem. Beware of organizational cultural shock. Some organizations or bureaucracy are slower to change than others, and they can sometimes be extremely politicized. Young people can get frustrated working in that kind of environment quickly. However, learning how to pull string in what seems to be a fortress of rigidity can be a skill that lasts you for a life time.

7. If you could try a different career on for a year, what would it be?

Go on an archeological dig, be an army chef, turn my life story into a trashy novel, or work in an investment bank

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