Alumnus - Class of 2018

professional headshot of class of 2018 alumnus Stephanie Rempel

Academic background: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, International Development Studies and German, University of Winnipeg
Co-op position: Research Analyst, Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure and Junior Trade Policy Officer, Global Affairs Canada

Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?

After completing my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to work alongside political staffers at the Manitoba Legislature. I loved being a part of the process especially since it was so dynamic and fast paced, but I realized that the partisan nature was not the right fit for me. I began pursuing a career in the public service. The course and co-op based structure of the MPS program appealed to me as I knew it would help me achieve my goals.

Tell us about your current co-op position.

I am currently working at my second co-op placement as a Junior Trade Policy Officer at Global Affairs Canada. I work in the Trade and Agreements branch, which means that I work with the teams that negotiate trade agreements. NAFTA negotiations are currently ongoing so it’s a very exciting place to work!

I wondered a lot coming into this second placement if I would notice a big difference between the provincial and federal government. Some might say otherwise, but in my view, it’s the nature of your team/unit and the work culture that they foster that makes for the biggest difference. I have lucked out and the people on my team here at Global Affairs, just like at my placement at the Ministry of Infrastructure, are welcoming as well as passionate about their work.

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

Through course work, co-op placements and overall support, the MPS program has helped me gain the necessary skills and experience that expedited the search for a career in my chosen field of public service.

Courses like economics, statistics, and project management have taught me valuable new skills in cost-benefit analysis, using excel, and creating work breakdown structures. The politics and policy courses have added to my foundational knowledge.  

Co-op has been critical to adding important experience to my resume. During my time at my co-op, I have been able to learn hands-on skills and perfect others, such as writing briefing notes. Another important aspect about co-op is the networking opportunities that it creates! I have met so many people that I would never have otherwise been able to. They all provide great advice and become another important contact when searching for a job.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

I always enjoyed the events that the MPSA put on for us. From carving pumpkins to our own paint night, we did so many things together as a cohort. After spending eight months together in classes, I am so glad that my peers have become good friends, mentors, and colleagues.

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

When I started MPS I was most nervous for the economics and statistics classes. I was never very strong in math in high school and I did not take any of these types of classes during my undergraduate. The first two weeks were daunting, but I worked hard and asked for extra help from my peers and professor. I certainly was not at the top of the class, but was able to finish the year with grades that I was proud of, in addition to learning new and important skills that I have been able to apply at work. These courses helped me realize that I don’t need to be so afraid of numbers and I have more perseverance than I often give myself credit for.

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

Right now, being able to get the behind the scenes perspective on NAFTA negotiations is certainly the most interesting opportunity I have ever had in any job. I volunteered to help out with logistics so I have also had the opportunity to chat with negotiators and stakeholders from all three countries as I help them navigate the building.

Overall, I find it always both interesting and rewarding to see media stories that address the government work that I have been a part of.    

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

I would recommend the MPS program to anyone interested in pursuing policy work or career in the public service. Building up your skills and experience is important, but so is networking. Networking can be difficult if you have not done it much before or if you are more of a shy/reserved type person. Make sure to take advantage of all the networking opportunities, it does get easier with practice! At the end of the day, putting yourself out there and meeting new people is key to growing your network and landing a future

University of Waterloo