Jessica Barber

Alumnus - Class of 2018

Professional headshot of class of 2018 alumnus Jessica Barber
Current position: Marketing Coordinator Rapid Novor (biotechnology startup) 
Co-op position: Growth Specialist, Hubba (tech startup) & Usability Researcher, Desire2Learn
Academic background: Bachelors of Arts, Religion, Celtic Studies & Book and Media Studies, University of Toronto (third year, studied abroad at the University of Glasgow)

Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?

I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do after my undergrad degree, but the only thing I knew for sure, was that I didn’t want to stop learning. MPS seemed like a great program because it was so diverse, which really appealed to my indecisive undergrad self. Also, it didn’t seem like a typical university program where I would graduate with only theoretical skills; it looked like a program that taught practical skills (which it did).

Tell us about your co-op experience.

My co-op experience was random because I applied to EVERYTHING that remotely interested me. Something you will learn about this program is that you can literally be and do nearly whatever you want, and everything is transferable! As a result, I found co-op really allowed me to figure out where my skills were applicable and helped me figure out what I liked and didn’t like.  I discovered that I like the fast-paced work environment of a tech startup, and dislike jobs with monotonous routines.   

Tell us about current job

My current job is honestly a position I never thought I would find myself in I never saw myself working in sales; nor did I see myself working in the science field. Yet, somehow through the magic of job applications, I ended up in a position which lets me optimize my skill set I developed during my MPS academic term.  To put this into perspective, I use general statistical analysis to figure out what’s working and not working with our current sales and marketing approaches (MPS Statistics); I have to organize my schedule to figure out the logistics of conferences and collaborate with international clients (MPS Project Management); and I have to communicate in a succinct manner (MPS Communications), albeit not government briefs (trust me when I say science is a language of its own).

How did the MPS program, including your co-op experiences prepare you for a career?

It’s a realistic skill-set. The instructors don’t just paint hypothetical pictures of how to do something, they actually get you TO DO IT. From Q&A, to briefs, to cost-benefit analysis, it’s all covered. Also, MPS does a great job of randomly pairing group members so that you’ll have a chance to work with the majority of the program members at one point or another. Why is this beneficial? It teaches you how to adapt to different learning styles, and how to work with different personalities.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

The Toronto networking event. It’s not only fun because you’re getting in front of people who could potentially be your future employer or reference, but it’s a blast in general. Everyone looks 10/10 and has their game face on, but the moment the clocks strike (I think 9pm), it’s time to let loose! This was probably the first event I really got to know the rest of my cohort; the majority of people had some sick moves!

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

I learned that although I had NO idea what to do with my life, pretty much no one did. That fact eased my mind completely knowing that I wasn’t in this alone. The good thing is that people start pointing out things you would be good at based on how they’ve seen you perform in and out of class, and they make career suggestions you might never have considered. When you’re surrounded by such a smart group of people, great ideas are bound to happen, including figuring out your career objectives.

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

Don’t enter the program thinking you want position X and only position X; it’s going to limit your opportunities. It’s fine to have a good idea of a general field you want to work in, however what you’ll probably find is that the courses you didn’t think you’d like, will end up being your favourite, or the position you didn’t think you’d want, will end up being the stepping stone to your dream job! Also, CHILL, relax and just enjoy the 18 months, and trust me when I say, it’s going to FLY by!