Academic background: Social Development Studies, University of Waterloo
Co-op position: Documents and Logistics Branch Forms Management Project Assistant, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?
I chose the program because I wanted to help people, unfortunately I had also figured out that many people while good natured were often hampered by policy and that a few reformations could allow for services to be delivered more efficiently and equitably. What put the Master of Public Service over similar programs was its people. I had talked to the director who told me that his favourite thing about the program was the students; no other person that I had talked to representing a public policy program had given me that answer. It was from then on I knew I would have a supportive base to learn and grow which became more and more evident as the term went on.
Tell us about your current co-op position.
Officially my title is a forms management project assistant, which mostly has to do with QA compliance, data entry, slight data analysis, and eventually form language compliance. However my ministry focuses on putting persons with specific talents in places where they can excel. In addition to my regular workload, I served as the production team lead for Branch Day 2018 (an MGCS event in June) wherein the idea is to create a 10 minute long communications piece about the evolution of forms management. It means that I have to utilize project management and communication skills to balance the needs of approximately 15 stakeholders in a government setting. This lead to the idea of producing educational videos for an e-health app again, with me serving as the head of production.
How did the MPS program, including your co-op experiences prepare you for a career?
There will be times in this program much like in co-op and a career, where you will need to lead, and times where you may have to compromise for the greater goal of the team. The MPS program has also shown me that there will be times when you have to be carried, when others will sacrifice for you and when you can sleep soundly knowing that you have done a good job and a good team is around you.
Although my co-op experiences and the MPS program’s teachings are not perfectly aligned, they certainly prepare you to thrive as a public servant in the government. For instance, I am not doing econometric analyses, CBA’s, preparing policy statements as of now. What I am doing, is examining project management in its purest form, preparing communication documents because that’s where my talents are.
What are your favourite MPS moments?
There was one econometrics lecture where Professor Sen was trying to explain a concept of anticipated effects if he were to open up the Masters of Public Service program to a cohort of 100 people saying that the overall people enrolled in the mentorship program in terms of percentage of students would rise. Although this was true, I posed the question of “wouldn't overall mentorship fall initially because more students would be accessing a pool of resources that wouldn't be there?” Professor Sen then expressed how his example might not have illustrated the concept. These aha moments of econometric concepts coming together were so memorable.
I remember one day being completely overwhelmed editing a large submission whilst having another due the same day. One of my group members offered to make the remainder of the changes as everyone else seemed mentally exhausted. I told him I would repay him. Two months later this same student was very worried about attaining a co-op position. While other students around seemed concerned, I encouraged him to laugh it off, reminding him of his exceptional skills and qualifications. Sure enough, after a few weeks, he landed a job, and after muttering an “I told you so”, all he could do was laugh. These are the kinds of relationships you will cultivate with your MPS colleagues and ultimately make the journey much more enjoyable.
There was also a running joke about former education teacher and decorated MPS staff member John Milloy. We as a cohort made it a mission to name drop John in any presentation relating to education as he has truly done everything!
Other random memories are successfully networking with a group of 200 plus MPS alumni and senior students during the annual fall mixer, which initially was intimidating for me. Another memory I have is messaging the program director on Facebook during class to tell him that it looked like I had a job and instead of getting a lecture about Facebook and professionalism, he Skype called me saying, “tell me everything right now! “ On top of that there was, Mario Kart tournaments (I never won), presenting with colleague Thomas Gallezot (always fun), in general being feared as the person who would ask the most perplexing questions during every other presentation, and most importantly, having a sense of family and community. It was amazing for my development, and that development meant that I had truly learned something.
What have you learned about yourself as a result of the program and your career?
I learned that I can perform a presentation while having no voice (and subsequently become the least popular person in a room 30 seconds after), that I can submit an economics paper with a 101 degree fever, not knowing where I was when I submitted it, and that people with cars are godsends. In all honesty though, the program has shown me just what I was capable of in practical, real world applications, and that the public service is malleability with no end to the amount of value it can bring. This program has taught me about mental flexibility, trusting in a team, and how to push myself to new limits.
What has been your most interesting experience working in the public service?
On the third day into my job, I was informed of Branch Day. I shared with my co-workers the fact that I am a voice over artist who has been getting some professional work since 2015 (apparently makes you really popular)! Also getting the trust and clearance to create a 22 page training manual in one week, which will now be used as Branch Standard for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA) QA documents. The level of detail going into something so seemingly mundane, but making all the difference in the world to persons with disabilities for their forms is something I’m incredibly proud of.
What advice do you have for someone interested in taking the MPS program?
Short answer, always go to any activity with food. Not only will you meet great people, but you will meet many people! This is also very applicable in the real world! Our office is currently preparing for a tenant appreciation barbeque ran by our building owners and we had a 10 minute pseudo planning session about how to attack the food!
This program will test you in ways that you never knew possible. Trust me when I tell you it’s going to make you question yourself every single day, there were days I felt as if I could be in the public service for 50 years, and there were days I felt as if I was out of my element and needed to leave. There were days I could feel the difference that I made in people, and there were days I could feel the differences people made in me. The MPS Program is not just about becoming a great public servant (though I’d be remised if I didn’t mention its comprehensive classes, excellent staff, and real-world applications that I am sure other profiles can go into much greater detail about). It is about becoming a great person, because it is surrounded by great people, who will quickly become your friends, your family, and your companions in arms. Be nice to everyone, try your heart out, network as best you can, use your talents to your advantage, and never give up. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish.