New Students Onboarding Guide

Welcome to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG)!

This guide will help you get settled, so you can begin your work term as quickly as possible.

As a new student, your onboarding experience can be broken down into five distinct stages:

What is the difference between Onboarding and Orientation?

Orientation is a component of the onboarding process, which includes foundational and mandatory courses, including health and safety, security awareness, welcome events, overview of the departmental mandate and structure, etc. The Canada School of Public Service offers online courses to help new employees and students learn about how government works, values and ethics.

Onboarding is the entire process of integrating new employees into the workplace, which begins with recruitment and continues through the first few months of their development. New employees are invited to participate in formal and informal learning activities that cover everything from essential skills and work procedures, to established cultural norms, to networking and mentoring opportunities.

Onboarding differs for students, because FSWEP and COOP terms do not normally exceed six months. So your learning experience is ongoing: from the job interview up until your last day of employment.

Stage 1: Pre-arrival

This section helps you make a good first impression with your manager and offers advice to prepare your arrival. By following these steps, you’re starting the process to become a good team player, even before your first day.

  • If this is your first assignment in the Government of Canada, you’ll be asked to complete a security screening. This process depends on the requirements of your job. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a request for information and consent will be sent directly to your personal email address. Digital fingerprints will be required upon resumption of regular business operations.
  • Congratulations! If you’re reading this Guide, then your manager already sent you a welcome email and attached your letter of offer. Get an early start on your future employment by learning about the Department: Fisheries and Oceans Canadathe Canadian Coast Guard and the Portal for new employees and students. Sign, date and return the letter of offer to your hiring manager.
  • To avoid pay delays/issues, please submit all of these forms at least 17 business days before your start date: Employee questionnaireFederal tax credits returnProvincial tax credits return, and Direct deposit form.

Stay in regular contact with your manager, especially if there is a long wait period between the job offer and your start date. Be assertive and send a follow-up email. By asking questions, it shows your enthusiasm: “Who’s the Onboarding Lead? Do I have a Student Ambassador? etc.

Before your first day, you will receive your new DFO email address and your temporary password, including login instructions for Outlook, a list of important contacts and procedures.

What is remote work?

You should expect gradual changes to the current work-from-home situation. In the meantime, your manager will contact you to:

  • Discuss your communication preferences and work tools (e.g. personal phone and computer);
  • Provide a thorough overview of your work assignment and allow time for questions;
  • Provide tips for working remotely and for setting up a home office.

For technical support, contact the IT Service Desk at 1-888-248-2210 (e.g. myKEY registration or authentication).

Stage 2: Your first day

The first day will mark the beginning of a significant period of adjustment for you. It’s normal to feel nervous or apprehensive, especially in a new and unfamiliar environment.

Why have a Student Ambassador?

You will be matched with a Student Ambassador, who is like a support figure that you can trust. Other than your manager, the Student Ambassador is your first point-of-contact. They’re expected to:

  • Initiate contact with new students;
  • Be accessible from the time of your arrival until you are well integrated and almost independent (or for about one month) and then to a lesser extent for the duration of your work term;
  • Coordinate networking activities for you and other students to get to know each other;
  • Answer your questions and/or refer you to the appropriate tools and resources, for example: Your Professional Network, Human Resources, IM&TS and MyPay support services.

Stage 3: Your first week

Starting a new job can be stressful and overwhelming, for you and for those involved in your onboarding process. You will adjust in due time, and so will your colleagues.

  • Attend a virtual meeting with the Onboarding Lead, who will provide you with information on the Department’s mandate, role and structure. Ask your manager to help you get in touch.
  • In the coming days, your manager will explain where/how your role fits in the organization. Your email will get added to group distribution lists, and you will be invited to team meetings. 
  • To find out more about mandatory training, please consult the following web page: Mandatory Training | Intranet – People and Culture (HR) (
  • To obtain a complete description of the courses/programs offered by the CSPS, log into the CSPS Learning Platform and enter the course code or title of the course in the search bar. Please update your CSPS learning profile, including your current department and role, in order to be informed of learning opportunities.  Please note: This is also of importance if you are joining DFO from another department or agency.

Tips to help you find a mentor (Optional/Recommended)

Begin with people in the organization whom you admire for their skill, knowledge and leadership. The seniority of your mentor doesn’t matter; what matters is the best fit. Ask your manager and your Student Ambassador for help. They may know of colleagues that could be a good match for you. Some qualities to look for in a mentor include:

  • Experienced in a field of interest to you;
  • Enjoys helping others and is flexible, empathetic and encouraging;
  • Available and willing to spend time with you, give guidance and feedback;
  • Understands the organization and its culture; and knows how to forge a career path in the public service.

Most importantly, know what YOU want from a mentor, whether that is career advice or help with HR processes, etc.

Stage 4: Your first month

During your first month, you’ll find that you are gradually settling in, but still adjusting to a new routine. You’re starting to understand the basics of the job, but you’re still getting to know the people and organizational culture. After a month, you should feel increasingly confident, and start building rapport with your colleagues.

  • Establish work objectives with your manager’s help. Ask for regular feedback on your performance and clarify expectations. Highlight any concerns you have with your manager about the work or your role.
  • Confirm your registration for any remaining courses, whether mandatory or job-specific. You may begin exploring virtual learning activities (e.g. FYN Virtual learning seriesInterdepartmental student committee, etc.).
  • Schedule a virtual group meeting with your manager and your Student Ambassador to discuss your experiences so far. Be proactive and initiate one-on-one, virtual meetings with team members to understand their work.
  • If you do not have a VPN connection, you will not be able to access the Phoenix pay system and you will need to send your leave requests directly to your manager for entry into the system.
  • You should report all pay issues (such as missing pay, or incorrect rate) to the MyPay support team.

Stage 5: Your final week

Very much like your first day of work, the last week is another opportunity to make a final good impression. Hopefully by now you’ve had the chance to interact with all your colleagues, have gotten a taste of the workplace culture, and even have accomplishments of your own under your belt. Overall, you should end the term on a positive note.

  • Make a list of projects you’ve worked on and indicate which ones are completed or not. If possible, highlight what is left to do for the incomplete projects. Write a summary of the areas in which you found success, and the hardships that you experienced.
  • Complete the Departure/Prolonged Leave of Absence Report. All DFO/CCG IT equipment must be returned as part of this process (cellphones, keyboard, mouse, etc.).
  • Ask your manager about the Administrative Officer responsible for you. Communicate with them to know if your equipment will be kept with your unit or returned to the departmental IT inventory.
  • If you are able to return the retained equipment in person, communicate with the Administrative Officer to make the proper arrangements.
  • If the returned equipment is not-to-be retained can be made in person to the IT Service Desk, please email the IT Service Desk to set up an appointment. You can communicate with them as well to for instruction for packing the material if needed if the equipment can not be returned in person and must be mailed.
    • If you will be mailing the equipment, please include whether your unit will be retaining your equipment, whom the equipment needs to be sent to or if it is being returned to the departmental IT inventory.
    • If a laptop or monitor has been shipped directly to the departing employee, and the equipment must be returned by mail to the RC manager or IT Service Desk, the best packaging would be the original box in which it was shipped if available. Please inform the IT Service Desk in your email if you still have this box, or if you require packing material.
  • If you are bringing your equipment in person to the Administrative Officer, to your manager, or to an IT Service Desk, please insure that all equipment is wiped with an alcohol based wipe as it is delivered. If you will mail the equipment it will be wiped when it is opened and received.l
  • Schedule final meetings with your manager and your Student Ambassador to discuss your work term. This is a chance to share your opinions on what you’ve learned, what worked well, and also what you think was lacking.
  • Don’t forget to indicate your interest in being placed in the National repository of students and new graduates.
  • In August, complete the Student Exit Survey online.
  • Write a farewell email to your colleagues. Congratulate yourself on a successful work term!