Alumnus - Class of 2016


Current position: Research & Policy Analyst, Region of Peel 
Co-op position: Health Promotion Assistant, Regional Municipality of Peel
Academic background: History & Peace Studies, McMaster University

Why did you choose Waterloo’s Master of Public Service program?

I chose the MPS program because I thought that this program would be a great way to achieve my goal of supporting better standards of living within my community. I was also interested in this program for its interdisciplinary approach to learning, as I wanted to gain a comprehensive understanding of current issues. Additionally, I liked that Waterloo’s program was designed to prepare students with practical and academic skills in the classroom, with the added bonus of getting 2 co-op work-terms.

Tell us about your current position working for Peel Public Health.

I am currently working as a Health Promotion Assistant at Peel Public Health. Coming into the program, I was interested in a career in public health, so I am very pleased to be spending my work terms with Peel. Being part of the Workplace Health team, I have been supporting projects under the Region’s “Supportive Environments for Healthy Living” priority, specifically promoting actively designed buildings to respond to the adverse health effects associated with sedentary lifestyles. I am well-supported in my role with a great supervisor, team, and mentor. An exciting part of my current experience is that my mentor is an MPS alumnus -Khanh Dang. This connection has made my experience even more enjoyable.

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

The MPS program prepared me for a career by providing me with essential knowledge and skills for professional development. Lectures about government institutions provided context and insight into how to navigate the system. The skills that I developed through assignments in economics, statistics, project management and communications have helped me successfully integrate into my current position. Workshops and support from MPS with regards to cover letters, resumes and mock interviews were especially valuable, as they equipped me with skills to professionally and confidently pursue career opportunities.

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

I love that my workplace leads by example. What excites me most is that Peel is able to model a healthy work environment with programs that promote activities such as: taking the stairs, using active office furniture, and leading walking meetings. I have even been able to incorporate an exercise circuit into my weekly mentor meeting agenda. My mentor and I look forward to testing out the circuit at our next meeting.

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

I learned that I am capable and ready to meet new challenges. My recipe for success when I leave my comfort zone is a good challenge, support, and hard work. When I graduated high school, I vowed to leave math behind, avoiding every math-related course during my undergraduate studies. Going into MPS, I was nervous about taking the economics and statistics courses because I lacked experience and feared that I would fail. My self-doubt really changed this past April, as I wrote an Econometrics paper. For the paper, I performed a multivariate regression analysis, which was the most trying moment of my academic year. I worked really hard, had support from fellow classmates, and completed the assignment successfully. I even found that I got excited about my statistical findings. Now in my co-op position I look forward to working on projects involving statistical analyses. I am proud to have learned that I am capable of more than I imagined.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

My favourite MPS moments are all those which had the whole class laughing. I also loved the MPS mixers, because I enjoyed hearing alumni give advice and tell us of their successes after MPS. Another favourite moment was handing in our final assignment of the first year. The pride and relief that followed was priceless. Finally, I loved every Vincenzo’s’ meal. I have missed that store every day since I left Waterloo.

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

  1. Work as hard as you can while keeping sane.
  2. When times get tough in the program, and they will (especially when you are applying for co-ops)...try to stay calm and utilize your resources. You will not be alone. We have great support from the administrative team who is there to help you succeed. Don’t forget to help others when you can.
  3. Worrying ahead will not get you ahead, so avoid stressing about your future. Enjoy your learning experience.
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