Stephanie Lee graduated from the Master of International Forestry (MIF) program in 2017. She is currently working as the Bioeconomy Development Lead at the Office of the Chief Forester, B.C. Ministry of Forests.
How did the MIF program influence your career path?
The Master of International Forestry program, particularly the course on international organizations and diplomacy strengthened my motivation to work for international organizations. After graduating with the MIF degree, I developed a global or international perspective to approach problem-solving. This influenced my pathway to work in international forestry development, international trade policy, environment; social and governance and now in bioeconomy development in B.C.
What specific skills and knowledge gained from the MIF program have you found most instrumental in your professional journey?
The program overall was quite holistic in preparing someone interested in international development work, focusing on global forestry and conservation. I think courses like International Organizations and Diplomacy, Forest Business Enterprise, and Indigenous Forestry helped me understand the subject matter from different perspectives. We dove into intergovernmental relations, business and entrepreneurship and indigeneity. These have all been instrumental in my career path so far.
What significant experience or project had a profound impact on your understanding of international forestry?
As an active member of the International Forestry Student Association, I had the opportunity to attend the 12th session of the United Nations Forum on Forest in New York as a youth delegate. I represented IFSA-UBC and was responsible for rapporteuring the main negotiations and discussions of the forum. I also attended side events and wrote blogs about them for the IFSA newsletter. This was my first ever experience attending a United Nations conference. Witnessing the negotiations, diplomacy, and policy advocacy on issues such as deforestation, community forests, gender, and youth in forestry was a highlight of my MIF experience. It was the kind of work I was excited to pursue after the program.
How has the international focus of the program contributed to your ability to work effectively in diverse global contexts?
My cohort was very diverse with professionals representing six countries. Each of us contributed to class discussions, assignments and projects with our unique perspectives which made the learning experience quite enlightening as well as enriching. It enabled me to be adaptive to changing situations at work and to be inclusive of different ideas and perspectives.
Based on your journey, what advice would you offer to individuals considering or enrolled in the MIF program?
For individuals considering the program, I’d suggest reaching out to the faculty or the program coordinator to match your expectations with what you could potentially gain from this program. I found this program to be pragmatic, which is why I enrolled.
For those already enrolled in the program, I’d suggest active involvement with IFSA. This opens up new opportunities and it helps add experience in building your resume, even if it’s a volunteer role. The other advice is to apply for internships and work in international organizations early on as they are very competitive. Be open to doing internships or work in the Global South.