From Student to Shipbuilder, Meet Justin Drapeau

Justin Drapeau, a recent graduate from Dalhousie University wasn’t thinking about a career in Shipbuilding until a summer work term changed his perspective.

In May of 2020, Justin started at Irving Shipbuilding in the role of Integrated Data Environment (IDE) student on the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program as part of Canada’s future fleet for the Royal Canadian Navy. When he first joined, he was just looking for a new learning experience for the summer. While his studies were focused on science, he was interested in how business works and how companies position themselves for success. His leader encouraged him to develop his shipbuilding knowledge and very quickly, he saw the importance of the work the team was doing. “When I first got here last summer, the amount of technical information I had to learn was overwhelming. After I got the foundational knowledge, I felt like I could jump right in and contribute,” said Justin. His perspective changed from just gaining work experience over the summer to being able to contribute at a higher level and have a meaningful experience.

At the end of the summer, Justin was offered permanent employment upon graduation. “Receiving a job offer before graduation allowed me to focus on completing my education and achieving my academic goals without the added stress of finding work within the ever-changing job market during COVID-19. While I may be done with formal schooling, I am so grateful for the opportunity to work in an environment which both challenges me and allows me to continue learning as I progress in my career,” said Justin.

Justin graduated this past May with a Bachelor of Science and certificate in Neurotechnology and Innovation, and he rejoined the Integrated Data Environment team as a Junior Product Data Management (PDM) Analyst. “Within a digital age, proper management of data is key to maintaining traceability and integrity of information across the program, and in my role as a PDM Analyst, I will support the implementation of a PDM environment to enable the build of CSC ships and their transition to In-Service Support,” said Justin. Having the previous co-op experience, he was able to jump right back in and get to work!

Though Justin did not expect to be starting his career in Shipbuilding he turned it into a viable career path. Justin’s advice for students looking to pursue new opportunities is to “keep an open mind when considering options as it is not often that we follow a direct path in our career progression. Coming to ISI from a science background, I have been challenged to move outside my comfort zone, however, I have found that exposing yourself to work outside your field of study is essential for personal and professional growth”.


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