Keith Chau

Alumnus - Class of 2013

Alumnus Keith Chau.

Current position: Senior Research Officer, Citizenship, Heritage and Regions - Canadian Heritage 
Co-op experience: Economic Research Assistant, Copyright and International Trade Policy, Canadian Heritage 
Academic background: Political Science & French, Western University

After graduation, he moved to Orange County, California and worked in the non-profit and private sectors for three years before moving back to Canada to seek new opportunities in the public service. Read more about Keith's experience in the MPS program below, and please see our News page for details on Keith's article in Public Sector Digest.

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

I have always wanted to experience working in the public sector and thought that a master’s degree would help me get there. I looked at several programs but decided on MPS because of its 8-month co-op component, one of the easiest ways of getting your foot in the doors of the public service. Waterloo is widely known for its excellent reputation when it comes to co-op work terms.

How did the MPS program prepare you for your career?

The MPS program is interdisciplinary and a lot of the courses focused on the practical side of working in the government. Other than the usual critical thinking and analysis skills that you gain from university studies, you are learning how to analyze various policy issues from a socio-economic perspective – a necessity when working in policy development. Even though as a student, you tend to dislike teamwork – in reality, everything you do in the government is a team process and the program really emphasized that aspect.

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

Participating in the legislative process of passing the Copyright Modernization Act in 2012. It was a very busy time when everyone in the office was running to meet requests from various stakeholders and parliamentarians. We were writing speeches, fact sheets, and briefing notes by the dozens on a weekly basis. One of the most memorable experiences for me was when my supervisor and I had to attend a Senate debate on Bill C-11 and we had to write a report summary within two hours after. If you factor in traffic and trying to get a taxi from Ottawa to Gatineau, there wasn’t a lot of time left. It was a good thing we were efficient and made pre-game preparations.

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

A unique aspect of the MPS program is that it forces you to be in contact with various personalities on a daily basis. Your ability to deal with various positive and negative scenarios so that you come out the winner is a lifelong skill, which you can apply to any situation. I think MPS and the public service has challenged me in that aspect and in the end, I won.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

Our various social functions and late nights trying to study, or working on a project at our MPS building. That workspace is superb, we are really lucky to be the first cohort to use it!
I also remember when one of our classmates was waiting for a co-op interview decision and kept checking to see her status. As soon as she found out that she got the job, we were all clapping and cheering. This was a moment where I felt that we were truly happy for each other’s success. It was great!

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

Take the time to immerse yourself in the program and social activities. For most of you, this is your last chance of being a student so take the opportunity to meet new people and participate in school events. Being able to manage both your workload and your social life will make you a more well-rounded person and more successful in your career development.