Global Horizons Magdalena Surma

Canada’s NATO: Interview with Jayson Derow

Welcome! I had the great honour of interviewing Jayson Derow. He is the Canadian Armed Forces Program Editor at the NATO Association of Canada. Jayson discusses his background and involvement serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Magdalena: Please begin by telling us more about yourself along with your academic background.

Jayson: I graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Human Justice with a major concentration in social justice and human rights, along with a Psychology Minor, and a Women’s and Gender Studies Minor. However, I wanted to expand my horizons and knowledge and therefore also completed a Bachelor of Arts Honours Major in Political Science. In Fall 2016, I will begin my studies at Queen’s University to earn a Master of Arts in Political Studies, specializing in International Relations.


Magdalena: Tell us about the work that you are currently doing as the Program Editor of the Canadian Armed Forces at the NATO Association of Canada.

Jayson: An underlying research area of interest of mine is the study of Canadian foreign policy, counter-terrorism, state failure, and Canada’s response to the challenges of globalization in the post-cold war world, with an emphasis on the post-9/11 era. With that, I have been writing journalistic articles where I can analyze topics similar in nature. My articles have focused on understanding and changing the discourse concerning the eradication of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and in turn the stabilization of Syria by moving away from war as an exclusive answer to extremism, and instead focusing on building a new approach that is grounded in both a comprehensive political and military framework.

In order to address these topics of interest, it has been of importance to study and understand the approaches and shifting doctrines of Canadian foreign policy. This has been coupled with an examination of how relations with the United States and with other global regions continue to influence the framework for Canada’s foreign policy response to the challenges concerning the rise of violent non-state actors in a world of globalization and increasing state failure.


Magdalena: What have been some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects associated with the work that you have done while at the NATO Association of Canada?

Jayson: I am interested in the political relationships among states, governments, and people and how decisions have an international impact. By utilizing my scholarship, along with leadership and critical thinking skills, the NATO Association of Canada’s internship has provided me with beneficial experience that is needed in order to serve society and implement change from a position of political leadership. This internship, I believe, will prove to be an effective starting point in a career in the world of politics.

This internship has also provided me with numerous opportunities to interact with government and military personnel at various levels, facilitating valuable learning, while also providing me with important contacts, all of which is essential in this field of work.

Additionally, the internship program at NATO Association of Canada undoubtedly helps to build the next generation of policy leaders. Working with NATO Association of Canada helped hone my communications, advocacy, social media, and development skills while also giving me practical experiences to employ these skills in my academic and career endeavors.


Magdalena: You successfully completed a Bachelor of Human Justice with a major concentration in Social Justice and Human Rights, a Psychology Minor, a Women’s and Gender Studies Minor, along with a Bachelor of Arts Honours Major in Political Science from the University of Regina. With your experience and your expertise, what is the best advice that you can provide to those interested in pursuing a similar academic path as you?

Jayson: The optimal manner in which someone can find and apply for jobs in this field of study and work is by first obtaining the proper credentials, academic standing, experience, recognition, and network of mentors. Furthering your academic standing in politics and international relations requires a strong desire for experience in advocacy and with working alongside governmental and non-governmental organizations. Moreover, personal contacts are always an effective manner in which to job search.

However, for specific jobs within the field of international relations, it is necessary to first gain beneficial experience through internships, and from there, build a vast degree of skills, abilities, knowledge, experience, and leadership. All of this will be beneficial in separating you from the rest. Experiences via internships are an essential career-marketing tool that has the potential to strengthen candidacy for a position in a desired field. Internships provide an individual the opportunity to establish relationships with mentors; networking with potential employers; and an introduction to the field’s culture, responsibilities, and work.

Moreover, in a day of technological advancement and interconnectedness, it is important in many ways to be found online, particularly on professional networks such as LinkedIn. This has the potential of enhancing an individual’s professional credibility. With that, it is important to be consistent and maintain your professional persona both online and offline.


Magdalena: You were also a policy intern with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in Washington, D.C. This is where you worked to raise awareness in the media on Capital Hill, and among society as a whole in order to create a country that honours and supports post 9/11 veterans through education, advocacy, and community building. What were some of your most memorable moments while serving as a policy intern with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in Washington, D.C.?

Jayson: Regardless of the form of advocacy or issue at stake, there continues to be an enduring need for the rise of the voices and the enactment of the proper role of the advocate. These individuals hold an invaluable position within a movement in which they become the voice of the individual and the means of hope for change. IAVA and their movement of advocacy on behalf of the 2.8 million post-9/11 veterans and their families affected by issues around mental health and education is illustrative of just that.

Notably, for the post-9/11 veterans of America, and veterans within the world as an entirety, IAVA’s advocacy can be viewed as a tool of empowerment. Today, IAVA is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America at over 400,000 members. This sense of empowerment and advocacy on behalf of the individual is noted as enabling the individual to take control of their environments and achieve self-determination, and in turn, allows for the confronting and challenging of obstacles to an individual’s life. This sense of instilling empowerment is a form of leadership that truly resonated with me in my time with IAVA.

Moreover, my experiences at my internship with IAVA has allowed me to take a new look and a new stance on leadership and the qualities of what makes a leader effective. Led by veterans, and being a non-partisan advocacy organization ensures that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families are supported, protected, and never forgotten. This manner in which IAVA is structured and organized has taught me how to effectively use my voice, writing, and actions as a method of advocacy and a means of empowerment on behalf of the millions of veterans who are coming home from war and wanting to join the national dialogue to explain what was happening on the ground overseas and back home in the United States of America.


Magdalena: Jayson, you have eight years of military service in the Canadian Armed Forces with the Royal Regina Rifles along with one deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. Please discuss how this has influenced your life along with how your experience has had a positive impact on your choice to study politics and to intern at the NATO Association of Canada.

Jayson: I joined the Army Reserves with the Royal Regina Rifles at age 16. At age 19, after completing my first year of university, I realized that I could do more for society. Therefore, in 2010, I took a leave from my studies and volunteered for a military operation in Afghanistan. My time there has left me seeking further diplomatic and political understanding of such occurrences of war, security, and defence through scholarship. My military service, which entailed varying leadership roles, has had a correlation with the consistency of my scholarship and has instilled me with the discipline and competency needed to succeed as an intern with the NATO Association of Canada.


Magdalena: With your experience, what is the best advice that you can provide to those interested in pursuing a career with the military?

Jayson: The key to a successful career in the military is hard work and teamwork. The job is demanding and requires you to operate in a fast-paced environment with the ability to adapt and overcome. You will never be alone. In the military you will develop strong friendships and accomplish many goals as a cohesive unit. A career in the military is no doubt unique. It will require you to make many sacrifices, but it will also reward you with self-development, job opportunities, travel, friendships, service, and the experience of a lifetime.


Magdalena: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Jayson: I am driven to be the best at what I do and I want to work somewhere where I will have opportunities to develop my skills, take on interesting projects, and work with people I can learn from.


Magdalena: What is the best way for those listening to this interview to contact you?

Jayson: I can be contacted by email or at any of the following social media platforms:


Facebook: Jayson Derow

Twitter: @JaysonDerow

LinkedIn: Jayson Derow


Magdalena: Would you like to leave any final words for our listeners today?

Jayson: Successful people know why they are here and what they need to do. They have a very clear purpose, a very clear vision. With purpose you will outwork any one and every one. My internship with NATO Association of Canada has made me realize just that. It has instilled in me a new understanding of what it means to be a leader and what it entails to become a great and effective leader.

This understanding of leadership will be a beneficial tool that I will continue to focus on in my academic and career development. Without a doubt, this internship has allowed me to gain the beneficial experience necessary that will allow me to serve society and implement change from a position of political leadership and empowerment.

I have also realized that until you commit to a cause, you will never be effective in implementing change. But once you get there, once you find that passion, that desire, that motivation, I guarantee you that you can do anything. So as young leaders preparing ourselves to make an impact on this world, we must work hard and then we can implement change. Discipline, desire, commitment, and strong habits are what creates this change, creates a purpose.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NATO Association of Canada.

Magdalena Surma
Magdalena Surma is currently Canada's NATO Program Contributor and Outreach Coordinator. Former Program Editor of Global Horizons, Magdalena completed a BA in Legal Studies (Honours) and a Masters in Public Service at the University of Waterloo. She also attended Harvard during two summers, where she completed courses in psychology, government, and law. In addition, she successfully completed Harvard Law School’s Executive Education Program in Negotiation and Leadership. Magdalena is currently completing an LLB through University of London’s International Program. She is passionate about law, government, and charitable non-profit organizations. As an avid researcher, she hopes to extend her research to investigate women in security while examining society, culture, and international relations. In addition, Magdalena is also passionate about international business and economy. She is very excited about being involved with various projects at NATO, specifically engaging youth and society about international affairs. Apart from a love of politics, Magdalena enjoys fine art, ballet, and classical music.