Academic background: Bachelors of Science, Health Sciences-Biology & Psychology, University of Toronto
Co-op position: Policy Analyst, Human Services Integration Office, Ministry of Community and Social Services
Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?
During my undergraduate degree, I was involved in a number of different initiatives that involved giving back to communities. After I finished my degree, I knew I somehow wanted to give back and make an impact in this world. I knew public policy was definitely the appropriate pathway for me to advance my career. I was really attracted by the co-op portion of the program. I knew if I wanted to potentially have a career in the public service, I would need some tangible work experience. In addition, I was really interested in learning more about public policy and courses such as The Politics of Difference in Canada and Public Policy Development really drew my attention. The combination of coursework and co-op made the program an easy choice to make.
Tell us about your current co-op position.
At the moment, I am employed at the Human Services Integration Office within the Ministry of Community and Social Services. My work as a policy analyst primarily consists of supporting the horizontal initiatives that are developed in the office. Our team is responsible for the service delivery integration efforts across 47 municipalities and regional service delivery bodies. We work with Ontario ministries and municipal partners across the province to integrate the provision of Ontario Works (MCSS), social housing (MAH), and childcare (EDU). In that regard, I am responsible for qualitative and quantitative research that is used by senior management. My team is small, so I have had some opportunities to prepare and assist with briefings for our Assistant Deputy Minister. Overall, I am really happy with my co-op placement, it’s an exciting place to be. The work that we do directly impacts millions of residents in Ontario.
How did the MPS program, including your co-op experiences prepare you for a career?
The way the coursework is set up, it easily helps you transition into a career. I was able to go into interviews and mention the projects I had completed. These projects ended up mirroring what was expected of me as a co-op student. Each course is designed with key learnings and takeaways; all this has definitely made me more comfortable transitioning into co-op and eventually a career. For example, one of the major projects we completed was a mock Program Review, Renewal and Transformation (PRRT). When I mentioned this during my interviews, every single interviewer was impressed as this is something that is done yearly by each ministry at a provincial level.
What are your favourite MPS moments?
The entire program was full of so many memories but I personally don’t think I’ll ever forget the amount of love and support I experienced throughout this program. I was lucky in the sense that I had a community of people cheering me on. I distinctly remember feeling discouraged but the one thing that never failed to make me feel better, were the people in my cohort. I can genuinely say that each and every individual was part of this community and that is something that was definitely my favourite part of the program.
What have you learned about yourself as a result of the program and your career?
I’ve come to learn that I’m constantly learning about myself. Over the span of the program, I noticed my policy interests changed significantly. I came into the program with the goal of starting my career in either health or social policy, but after completing this program I’m starting to realize there are other areas of policy I’d love to work in. For example, I would love to work in areas of housing policy, foreign policy, and energy policy. Keeping this mind, I’m really excited to see where my career in public service takes me.
What has been your most interesting experience working in the public service?
Working at the Human Services Integration office has been a rewarding experience thus far. It’s been amazing to have a “behind the scenes” pass to see what a horizontal initiative consists of. A lot of the work our office does involves working with other ministries and partners and more than often this results in workshops, client engagement, and reports. It’s been interesting to see how three distinct ministries are working together cohesively to improve service delivery within Ontario. In addition, it’s fascinating to see how policy is developed using an integrated systems perspective.
What advice do you have for someone interested in taking the MPS program?
You get what you put in. Although the program is quite fast paced, there are numerous opportunities for you to make the most of it. Attend any workshops that are held, take some time to get to know your professors, apply for MPSA and apply for the mentorship program. There are so many opportunities, all you have to do is show up. More importantly, find some people in your community that you can lean on. When you find these people make sure you root for their successes as they will do the same for your successes. You’ll eventually realize that you already have everything you need to succeed in both the program and the workspace. Lastly, reach out to alumni. One of the most amazing aspects of this program is the sense of community. Like many, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to reach me via Linkedin.