Growing a passion for public service through co-op

Jeremy Ernest (he/him) is in his second year of the Master of Public Service program. CEE is recognizing him for his achievements during his co-op term at the Treasury Board Secretariat (Ontario) with the Co-op Student of the Year Award for the Faculty of Arts. Jeremy shares the story behind his success and explains his motivation towards consistent and impactful work.

Picture of Jeremey smiling at the camera

Jeremy worked in the strategic alignment office and did high-level coordinating work. Some of his main responsibilities were corresponding and communication heavy, while also working towards improving the overall processes of carrying out tasks in the department.

Jeremy also ran a mentorship program for new staff and co-op students. He organized events and worked on behind-the-scenes planning tasks.
“It was a really great opportunity to be involved in that mentorship program. As I was in a unique position, I was able to think of what new employees would want and carry that out.
I focused on the opportunities and advantages this program could have in the lives of co-op students and fresh minds. It was a really cool and valuable experience for me.”

Q: What drew you to apply for this role, as well as doing a master's in public service?

A: “Government work has always drawn me in. I believe that having a government that creates good policies and programs is beneficial for everyone.  It is rewarding because, at the end of the day, I can reflect on my work and know that I am doing it to serve the people and their best interests.”

Q: How do you prepare yourself to go into an organization that is so large?

A: “I think my program played a big role in helping me feel prepared for this position in the government. I was able to understand what to expect once I get into this field of work. My program is tailored specifically for public service work and I think it was hugely valuable to familiarize myself with government through my course work.”

“I was also lucky enough to talk to my professors and alumni to further understand the demands of such a role in the government. One of my professors advised me to go in with an open mindset and do my best to take in as much as I can while on co-op. It is a very lucky opportunity to work as a co-op student as you really get to understand the environment you are walking in to.”

Q: What are some skills you gained on your co-op term?

A: “In terms of technical skills, I got the chance to use and learn a lot of project management techniques. To do this I used organizational tools such as Excel. I was able to reach a high level of knowledge and understanding of these techniques. In terms of soft skills, I believe that I honed my communication skills. I was interacting with a lot of individuals which included writing emails and talking to people. I learned to write in a clear manner where both parties understood all the details.”

An image of Jeremy Ernest


Q: What is an achievement you are most proud of?

A: “I worked with my team on developing report card tools that we used to track the timelines of certain projects. It hadn’t necessarily been done in the Ontario government before so looking over the format, application and materials required for it was very cool to work on. I am very proud of how it turned out.”

Q: Do you think this co-op term helped in shaping your future aspirations?

A: “I absolutely think this co-op shaped my goals and aspirations. It confirmed to me that working in government is something that I would find rewarding and enjoyable. I met a lot of like-minded people in the government and I don’t think that it was a coincidence. I not only found the work extremely stimulating but the problems and obstacles I faced were interesting to work with as well.”

Q: How does it feel to win the Arts Co-op Student of the Year Award? 

A: “Winning this award feels surreal. I know that there are numerous other co-op students in the Faculty of Arts, so it is really flattering and humbling to have won this award. I feel extremely grateful to have received it.”   

Here are some thoughts Jeremy would like to share about his co-op experience at Treasury Board Secretariat (Ontario):

Jeremy had the opportunity to work with the Ontario government during his co-op term, which helped him confirm his passion for advancing society and helping people. Using your academic knowledge in your co-op positions can help you identify what aspects of a job you enjoy and what you would like to avoid in a full-time position after graduation. 

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