Alumnus - Class of 2012

KateCurrent position: Policy Analyst, Student Success/Learning to 18, Strategic Policy Branch, Student Success Division, Ontario Ministry of Education
Co-op work experience: Junior Policy Analyst, Capital Policy Branch, Elementary/Secondary Business and Finance Division, Ontario Ministry of Education
Academic background: History & Sociology, University of Windsor

Why did you choose Waterloo’s Master of Public Service program?

I actually ended up in the MPS program by complete chance. Since it was the first year of the program, I did not even know it existed. A friend of mine in undergrad received an information email about MPS and forwarded it to me since it sounded like something I would be interested in. At the time I was set on pursuing my MBA, but when I received my acceptance letter for MPS something felt right, so I took a chance and accepted. 

Tell us about your current position with the Ontario Ministry of Education? 

To be completely honest, my current position is my “dream job”. I have two main files that I work on. I am the policy lead on Outdoor Education. This funding is intended to support learning experiences in the outdoors which is a valuable tool in encouraging students to engage in active and healthy activities.
My other file is the School College Work Initiative. I work with a team of policy and education experts to provide Dual Credit programing which is intended to assist secondary school students in completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and make a successful transition to college and/or apprenticeship programs. The primary focus is on students who face significant challenges in completing the requirements for graduation but have the potential to succeed. 

How did the MPS program prepare you for your career?

I think all of the various courses have prepared me in some way or another. I enjoyed the fact that the program had a holistic public service focus and provided me with a variety of knowledge and skills. 
The project management course, in particular, helped me land my co-op position with the Ministry of Education. During the course I completed a project on the benefits of Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK). The co-op position I was interviewing for happened to be with the branch that was rolling out the capital funding for FDK. My work on the project allowed me to bring extra knowledge to the interview and demonstrated my interest in the work the branch was doing. 

What has been your most exciting experience working in the public service? 

I think the overall diversity of the public service has been the most exciting for me. I work with a diverse group of people on a daily basis that bring their own knowledge and experiences into the policy work we are doing. I enjoy learning from the various perspectives. 

What have you learned about yourself as a result of the program and your career?

Not to put limits on my potential. Before joining the Ontario Public Service I was narrow minded in imagining where I could go. Now that I am in my career and advancing quickly I see the greater potential for growth and opportunity. 

What are your favourite MPS moments?

The friendships I formed. Having a great group of classmates and forming the friendships that I did help me get through those long nights of studying and the intense co-op interview process. I am proud those relationships have still lasted to this day and we all continue to be a great support system to each other throughout our careers. 

What advice do you have for someone interested in taking the MPS program?

It’s not as easy as it looks. You cannot come into this program thinking you will be the next Policy Director for the Renewable Energy Branch. You are going to have to work hard and compete. Fighting for that first co-op position will be the most difficult thing you do in the entire program. At the end of the day though, the long nights will be worth it. This program will change your career and your life. 
University of Waterloo