Alumna in Africa making a difference

By Costa Maragos Posted: May 18, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Alumna Natasha Perkins in front of the Three Dikgosi Monument in Gaborone, Botswana.
Alumna Natasha Perkins in front of the Three Dikgosi Monument in Gaborone, Botswana. (Photo courtesy of Yaa Birago Amu)

Natasha Perkins is proof that the University of Regina’s Co-operative Education (Co-op) program can lead to an unimagined journey.

Perkins is a graduate of the U of R’s Paul J. Hill School of Business and for the past year has been on assignment in Gaborone, Botswana.

“Gaborone is a beautiful city. I have made many friends, some local, some expatriate. We have access to lovely restaurants, shopping and various forms of entertainment,” says Perkins who in 2012 got her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the U of R with a major in marketing.

While taking classes, Perkins took advantage of the U of R’s Co-op program that allows students a paid work experience while completing their studies. Perkins worked at the University of Regina’s Centre for Management Development (CMD) 
where she worked on a number of consulting projects. Upon completion of her degree Perkins went on to work full time at the Regina office of MNP, one of the largest chartered accountancy and business consulting firms in Canada. This was a direct result of the valuable consulting experience gained during her time at the CMD.

As it turns out, MNP was contracted by the Government of Botswana to help implement that country’s e-Government initiative. The goal is to allow citizens to access all government information and services from a single online source.
“Essentially we are laying the ground work so that the Government can build the solutions for online services internally,” says Perkins who hopes to assist MNP to further its international presence. “But it’s a pretty exciting feeling when you see the reactions of citizens and share with them what will be available. It’s evident that these online services will assist them in their day-to-day lives, especially people living in rural areas.”

As for Perkin’s Co-op experience?

“Do it! Work experience during your studies can be crucial to landing a gig right out of University,” says Perkins who now helps mentor U of R students at MNP.
“I extended my time at the U of R by almost a year because of the co-op program but it put me in a far better position for employment, post graduation.”

Perkins is scheduled to remain in Botswana on the project until December 2015 with the potential of extension. In the meantime she plans on enjoying all that Botswana and its people have to offer.

“It has been a wonderful experience living and working here,” says Perkins.

In total, Co-op students at the U of R earned nearly $10 million in 2014 while gaining practical job experience. And just like Natasha Perkins, many students received offers of employment upon graduation.