Ashish Sharma

Alumnus - Class of 2014

Ashish Sharma

Current position: Policy Analyst, Canadian Heritage
Co-op experience: Data Analyst, Periodical Publishing Policy, Canadian Heritage; Research Assistant, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Gatineau
Academic background: Business Administration, Simon Fraser University

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

After deciding that I wanted a career in the public service, I began looking at different graduate-level programs. Some programs focused on international affairs and some on policy development but what I wanted was a pragmatic, professional program intended to help graduates enter and excel in the public service. The MPS program is what I was looking for because it balances academics and work experience by having a co-op component.

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

The MPS program was a fantastic opportunity for me to become more resilient and I have surprised myself along the way. Balancing the demands of life with academics can be very challenging but with a supportive group of friends from the cohort it’s entirely possible to smile through it.
I have also learned that having broad and varied interests is a good thing. Graduate programs can feel like you’re becoming increasingly specialized but I think staying interested in a lot of different policy areas is beneficial. The important thing is to learn to use the knowledge and skills you’ve developed for whatever path your career takes you.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

The most rewarding part of being a public servant is being able to tackle complex policy challenges and knowing that your work is a contribution to the public interest.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

My favourite MPS moments were, oddly enough, when many of us would stay at the program space late at night to help each other with the different courses or to wrap up papers. Many of the best laughs I’d had all year happened during those nights and it helped a lot to take the pressure off of finishing assignments.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the program?

Don’t fear the finance classes. Professor Sen does a great job of making the material accessible to students with varying levels of experience (including those who are allergic to numbers). Apart from that, I’d recommend focusing on the main concepts being presented in each class and avoiding getting discouraged by the amount of work, particularly in the second semester. Just remember that the academic portion of the program is only two semesters and push through.
Think about what you want out of a Master’s degree and choose the program that’s right for you. The different public administration programs each offer something unique and it’s best to choose one that compliments your undergraduate degree, and the MPS program may do just that. Also, enjoy your time in the program because it will be over before you know it!