Ben Schnitzer

Alumnus - Class of 2012


Current position: Senior Policy Analyst, Periodical Programs Directorate, Canadian Heritage 
Co-op experience: Policy Analyst, Canadian Heritage
Academic background: Music, University of Manitoba 

What is your current position at Canadian Heritage?

I am a Policy Analyst in the Film & Video Policy and Programs Directorate of the Cultural Industries Branch. Specifically, I work on a team that negotiates audiovisual coproduction treaties between Canada and foreign partners. My job is actually very diverse. Every day is different and that’s what I like about it. I support negotiations by monitoring the cultural policies of foreign countries, as well as relevant issues in the international audiovisual industry. I also analyze socio-economic data on coproduction in Canada to determine trends, which in turn informs our policy development. 

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

I chose MPS because I already had a background in government and wanted to build on my career, but lacked the skills needed to advance. I liked the idea of MPS being a broad-based graduate program that would provide me with diverse knowledge and abilities. I felt this would improve my employment opportunities, and it did.

How did the MPS program prepare you for your career at Canadian Heritage?

I think it was the wide range of courses which prepared me for my current position. Learning about public policy and how the government works and taking specialized communications courses was key. If you can’t express yourself well, it doesn’t matter how good your ideas are! I also really appreciated the courses in finance and economics, and how our professor made them accessible and tailored the material to our needs.

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

Early in my time at Canadian Heritage, my manager gave me a lot of autonomy to develop a model to measure the box office performance of Canadian feature films in the international market. I really enjoyed being able to think through complex issues and come up with something and test it. That was extremely rewarding, and I value the trust my managers placed in me. I was also involved in the implementation of our new coproduction policy, and I got to learn a lot about how the government works from that experience.

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

I never thought of myself as a numbers person, but I have really enjoyed immersing myself in data analysis and economics. Numbers can “tell a story”, which is very interesting to discover.

What is your dream career in the public service?

I feel like I am already in my dream career!  In the next few years I would like to advance into a senior policy analysis role within my team and take the lead on more complex files.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

I think my favourite memory is of the time we drew supply and demand curves for wine and cheese and made a video about it. I think our economics professor liked it too. 

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

The MPS program is rigorous and demanding, but it also provides excellent training for a career in the public service. While the courses can sometimes seem overwhelming, it is important to maintain a positive attitude and keep your eye on the prize. My advice would be to work hard and work smart, because once you’re in the workforce, the standards are even higher than they were in school. Make the most of your courses so you can go into your co-op term prepared and confident. This will really improve your chances of securing long-term work.

Above all, enjoy your classmates and cultivate the soft skills – working collaboratively, listening to others and respecting people’s opinions. These abilities are crucial in the public service.