Zuhair Zaidi, a student in the Master of Public Service program at Waterloo, has been interested in Canadian politics since the age of 15. Thanks to Waterloo’s flexibility in allowing students to arrange their own jobs, Zaidi landed a co-op work term in the House of Commons this past spring.
Born in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Zaidi and his family moved to Toronto in his early teens. “Back in Dubai, I was the first one to wake up and read the newspaper,” he explains. “I knew all the news and I was always trying to get my head around what was happening around the world.”
During his time at the House of Commons, Zaidi’s day-to-day tasks involved supporting his MP in parliamentary matters. He focused on committee meetings, prepping questions and gathering necessary information about businesses. While Zaidi’s achievements are impressive, he insists that his success is partially due to many hours of volunteering.
Throughout his teenage years, Zaidi spent his summer breaks volunteering in government offices. He interned for the Liberal Party of Ontario and the Ministry of Economic Development in Queen’s Park. “I volunteered for different elections –I was always there, always helping out. I just wanted to contribute somehow to the political process.”
When asked what he thinks of the Master of Public Service at Waterloo, Zaidi highlights the practicality of the program. “The courses Waterloo offers are extremely specific. They make you think critically. You’re dealing with things that really forge policy.”
Zaidi’s advice to co-op student reflects his proactive approach to success. “Ask questions and put yourself out there,” he says. “At this age, it is imperative to take the necessary risks – without conversations and without being bold you won’t know what opportunities lie ahead. Embrace each situation and tackle it head-on. Every individual has the potential to succeed.”
Zaidi continues to challenge himself in his new co-op work term at the Ontario Public Service as a public servant for the Ontario Ministry of Children, Youth and Social Services.
Story by Andreea Perescu for Co-opertive Education, originally published in the Daily Bulletin.