Wallace Peterson went on a learning journey, and he didn’t even have to leave home. From 2020 – 2022, Peterson participated in the Technology & Operations stream of the Indigenous Peoples Development Program (IPDP), completing the program remotely from his community of Kahnawake, Quebec. He now works in data analytics with RBC from his reserve, a half hour outside of Montreal.
The program is designed to help recent graduates develop the skills and network they need to build their professional experience. “Since 2018, the RBC Indigenous Peoples Development Program (IPDP) has offered a unique work-integrated learning experience designed to accelerate the development of Indigenous youth who have recently graduated from university or college. The world of work is changing and RBC is committed to empowering the youth of today for the jobs of tomorrow,” says Lisa Melo, Vice-President, Learning & Performance.
Like many Canadians over the pandemic, Peterson adjusted to working and maintaining social relationships online. He’d considered the RBC IPDP before but was reluctant to move to Toronto given his family commitments. When the program moved online, he was able to continue being there for his family, manage a job from Toronto without having to incur the area’s housing costs and keep the money he earned in his community.
Every day, Peterson gets to be a part of the field of data science instead of just reading or watching videos about it online. “I really enjoy it and it’s expanded my toolset as a data scientist,” he smiles. Peterson has been able to professionalize his amateur technical curiosity and level up his technical and people skills.
Before the program, he worked in his community’s economic development and skills training program, which provided grants and funded learning opportunities for aspiring business owners. He was a junior business developer, learning entrepreneurial skills, and he helped launch a cafe with his cohort.
The program integrated a Mohawk perspective in its business building, and he even learned how to make his own cold brew, barista skills he still uses at home.
Ever since graduating from Concordia University with his bachelor of science in physics, he’s worked close to home, something he’s been able to continue to do with RBC. He’s appreciated being able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The organization and time management skills he learned in the IPDP have even helped him as a guitarist and drummer in two different bands.
At the end of the day, Peterson says, “It feels good to be representing Kahnawake outside of the community and to be able to make my family and relatives and friends here proud of me getting work off the reserve.” The Indigenous Peoples Development Program took him on a learning journey without his ever having to leave home, but now that he’s with RBC working as a data scientist, he’s proud of how far he’s come.
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