Academic background: Political Science and Business, Wilfrid Laurier University
Co-op position: Junior Business Advisor, Ontario Investment Office, Ministry of Economic Development and Growth
Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?
I chose Waterloo’s MPS program because of the program structure and the university’s academic reputation. I felt the mix of theoretical and technical courses would give me the transferable skills I needed to be successful in the public service. The chance to then apply that learning in a paid, professional working environment, was an opportunity many research-based graduate programs did not offer.
Tell us about your current co-op position.
In my current co-op position, I support the Technology Adoption and Regional Growth team. We focus on attracting, retaining, and scaling-up transformative technology businesses in Ontario, both foreign and domestic. As a Junior Business Advisor I work on proposals, briefing materials, and progress reports of pilot programs across the province. I also support stakeholder consultations on investments, economic development, and innovation-event coordination (ex. Elevate Tech Fest, Collision 2019).
How did the MPS program, including your co-op experiences prepare you for a career?
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Networking can be a huge step out of your comfort zone. Thankfully, the MPS program offers opportunities to practice through events held with alumni and public service professionals at all levels of government. These events are a great place to meet new people, ask questions, and build career connections.
Help close the experience gap by finding mentors. I was a successful candidate of the MPS Mentorship program and matched to a Deputy Minister. During our meetings, they gave me advice on the inner workings of the OPS, what to expect, and key skills to build on. They still check up on me, and have even referred me to other people in their network I should connect with. It never hurts to build yourself a team of mentors. They become a diverse group of people to get quality career advice from and sometimes become great friends.
What are your favourite MPS moments?
My favourite MPS moments are the ones spent with my peers outside of the classroom. They include: celebrating with my group after handing in a major assignment, pulling off a successful event with my fellow MPSA directors, off campus study sessions, and our trip to Ottawa over the reading week.
What have you learned about yourself as a result of the program and your career?
Not every day is going to be a great day, (at work or school) so when motivation is low, discipline always wins. I learned that even when it felt like I was running at 50%, it was always important to give it my best effort.
For my career, as an Arts student, I never thought I would be working in a science related field. Now, while working on transformative technology files, I find myself taking a keen interest in STEM research, automation, and tech start-ups. What I learned; try not to limit your career experience to a certain interest or job field, you never know what you could find interesting.
What has been your most interesting experience working in the public service?
Working during the writ period (elections) has been my most interesting experience thus far. Elections are currently underway and watching the ministry prepare and organize itself for a potential new government is an incredibly unique career opportunity. The existing provincial party has been in power for the past 15 years and a change in leadership would be a new experience for many senior staff across the province.
What advice do you have for someone interested in taking the MPS program?
Visit the space, talk to the staff, and reach out to alumni if you have unanswered questions. The program is challenging; it tests your comfort zone, communication, interview skills, time management, and ability to work in teams. But, it is also an amazing professional development opportunity and a step in the right direction towards your career.