Alumnus - Class of 2018

professional headshot of class of 2018 alumnus Joyce WaiCurrent position: Economist, Ontario Treasury Board Secretariat 
Co-op position: Research Analyst (Intergovernmental Policy), Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure
Academic background: Philosophy & History, Queen’s University

Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?

When comparing graduate programs, this program appealed to me because of its well-rounded design. The knowledge and skill sets you acquire through your coursework are versatile and highly relevant to the public sector. Moreover, having two co-operative work terms allows you to gain valuable professional experience while exploring different areas and roles. This program offered a perfect balance between academic and professional training. I also chose the MPS program because of its exceptional people. The program’s professors, program staff, alumni, and mentors are incredibly invested in the well-being and success of MPS students, and they are an invaluable support system.

Tell us about your current co-op position.

Currently, I am a research analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure’s Intergovernmental Policy unit, which negotiates partnerships with the federal government and administers joint programs for infrastructure funding. My responsibilities are fairly wide-ranging, and include managing various databases for program administration, writing briefing notes and memos for the Minister and Deputy Minister, conducting media scans, and conducting financial analyses. I’ve also had the opportunity to design and build a fiscal impact model, which has the capability to analyze project proposals based on a number of variables to produce the financial impact of these projects on the Province’s funding pools.

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

I have a liberal arts background, yet the MPS program equipped me with the quantitative skill set necessary to succeed in the public sector. In order to meet the needs of a public sector increasingly focused on data- and evidence-based policymaking, my coursework in economics and statistics gave me a solid foundation that I am now building upon in my co-op placement. Moreover, my coursework in project management, public policy, and political acuity have improved my understanding of the processes and machinery of government, and how best to approach different tasks and situations that arise in my everyday work.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

After spending all day in class together, my friends and I would go for coffee, followed by dinner, and dessert (and more often than not, we would end up spending the night at somebody’s house studying or doing our coursework). Particularly, I remember long, but fun nights spent studying before our economics exams.

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

I came into MPS with a clear sense of the policy areas I was interested in; however, throughout the program, I became more open, as there are valuable learning opportunities everywhere you go, even if those opportunities were not in your original plans. If you had asked me a year ago, I would not have considered infrastructure to be a personal area of interest. Yet, my co-op placement at the Ministry of Infrastructure has been a fantastic place to learn and gain experience and I have no regrets!

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

Personally, I have enjoyed observing the dynamic between political staff and the public service. It’s a truly unique experience to see the perspectives that each side brings to the table, and how that affects our work as public servants.

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

If you are considering the MPS program, please reach out to determine whether the program is a fit for you! The MPS program staff, alumni, and students are all happy to answer any questions you may have about the program, and give you insight about what the MPS has to offer.

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