Melvin Christopher

Alumnus - Class of 2019

Professional headshot of class of 2019 student Melvin Christopher
Current position: Business Advisor, Ontario Digital Service 
Co-op position: Policy and Research Analyst, Treasury Board Secretariat
Academic background: Bachelor of Arts (honours), Political Science, Western University

Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?

I always had a particular interest to join the public service and really felt the MPS program would best equip me with the skills and opportunities to achieve this goal. The opportunity to be placed in a co-op for a consecutive 8-month work term was extremely attractive as it allowed me to expand my work experience and gives me exposure to different ministries or levels of government.

Tell us about your current co-op position.

Currently I am working in the Open Government Office within the Treasury Board Secretariat. Open Government is about increasing transparency, accountability and public engagement so that we get better policy, programs, and better outcomes for Ontarians. Through my role I have attended public consultations with internal and external stakeholders, attended meetings with Open Government Leads across all ministries, and I continue support the mandate of the Open Government Office. Currently, I am helping to create Ontario’s 2018-2020 Open Government Action Plan. While in the office I have been asked to conduct jurisdictional scans, produce briefing materials, and update presentation decks in support of drafting our Action Plan.

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

The MPS program really gave me the foundation of what to expect in government. Additionally, it allowed me to evaluate policy and conduct financial analysis through a governmental lens. I had experience in the private sector before, but the MPS program really gave me an understanding of the terminology, methods, and the structure in which government is run. The materials and concepts used in the MPS program really advanced my capabilities and prepared me to be a make valuable contributions to my team during my co-op term.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

One of my favourite MPS moments was the end of year spring gala. I spent a lot of late nights with my colleagues in the MPS space and the end of year gala was a great way to celebrate the hard-work put into the semester. You make a lot of great friends during your time in the program, and when the end of year gala approaches, it is one of the last times you see a lot of your friends as different co-op positions take them to new cities. It was a memorable evening to dress up, get together, reflect on the successes of the year, and celebrate the hard work put into the year.

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

What I have learned as a result of the program is that the government has opportunities at so many different levels and through so many ministries. I did not appreciate the diversity of work the public service does for the general public and for the government. I think as a result of this, I am more open to challenge myself in new roles and expose myself to new opportunities that may arise in the public sector. Coming into the MPS program, I did not know much of Open Government, however now I feel I can champion the values and principles I have been taught in the Open Government Office to my next ministry that I enter.

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

My most interesting experience working the public service was attending a conference in Barrie for Open Government leads across all ministries. The collaboration and fusion of ideas was a great experience for me. Conducting working groups in the MPS program was very similar to the tasks assigned when I was at the conference. The work conducting at the conference with other ministry leads has been helping us implement our Action Plan.

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

My advice for someone interested in taking the MPS program would be to ask questions and reach out alumni. I found the alumni have been extremely open to questions and extremely helpful with feedback. There has not been a question I had that did not go unanswered in the MPS. Additionally, Sheila, Ramona, and Dr. Sen are extremely easy to access through email, phone, or even by visiting them at the space; their doors are always open and they are willing to chat. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Facebook if you have any questions, I am more than willing to give back.