Alumnus - Class of 2018

professional headshot of class of 2018 alumnus Sonal PatelCurrent position: Policy Advisor, Innovation, Science and Economic Development 
​Co-op position: Policy Analyst, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
​Academic background: Rhetoric and Professional Writing with a minor in Legal studies, University of Waterloo

Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?

I choose Waterloo’s MPS program because of its practicality and specialized focus on certain topics. I worked in the public service before I entered the program and I found that many of the classes offered were directly related to the type of work I was doing in the government. Also, the co-op aspect of the program was very appealing to get experience within the field and open doors to new opportunities in terms of networking and learning about policy development.

Tell us about your current co-op position.

My current position is all about technological advancements and the digitalisation of transportation, specifically cars. I mainly focus on research and policy development on the future of the automotive sector (e.g. self-driving cars), and the impacts and policy considerations that come with introducing and deploying these technologies (e.g. on the economy, transportation sector, environment, labour market). I switched roles into the Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADM) Office for my second co-op where I support the ADM in fulfilling his portfolio and work with the sector’s senior management to ensure that priorities are aligned.

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

The courses that were offered were absolutely relevant to the type of work I did in my co-op. From writing and reviewing briefing notes to thinking about the implications of policy development, I have been involved with it. I learned how to think critically and strategically to exercise good judgement and anticipate outcomes.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

All the sleepless nights filled with laughter and stress, where some of the most valuable friendships were kindled.

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

The most interesting experience for me was learning about the future of digitalisation and the various roles that government and industry will have. Being involved in the research and policy development discussions has provided me with a breadth and depth of knowledge.

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

The most valuable advice I can give to someone who is interesting in this program is to connect with previous alumni and staff and browse through their profiles (LinkedIn or UWaterloo website) to see their career path and whether that is the right fit for you. One thing I could concretely advocate for is how rewarding a career in the public service can be. Also, network like it’s your job! You never know what opportunities and doors you can open just by introducing yourself to someone and sparking a conversation with them. Continue to build your network by developing and maintaining relationships with professionals you meet and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, not only do you make a connection but you get access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. 

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