Ryan Kleinau

Alumnus - Class of 2017

professionsl headshot of class of 2017 alumnus Ryan Kleinau
Current position: Parliamentary Assistant, Parliament of Canada 
Co-op position: Constituency Assistant to the Hon.Bardish Chagger, Member of Parliament for Waterloo riding 
Academic background: Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management, Minor in Law, Carleton University

Why did you choose Waterloo’s MPS program?

I chose the MPS program because it was the only graduate level program in the area of public affairs which offered a balance between academic work and a paid co-op internship. I also chose it because I felt that an eight month work term was an especially key opportunity to prove myself and be able to set myself up for longer term future employment beyond graduate studies. The courses that were offered all seemed interesting and relevant to similar areas of study in my undergraduate degree. Overall, it just seemed like the perfect fit.

Tell us about your current co-op position.

My current position as a constituency assistant involves dealing with casework and responding to correspondence from constituents. This often involves working with various government departments to ensure that the needs of constituents are met involving immigration issues or benefit payments. I deal with the general public on a daily basis and help solve issues related to the mandate of the federal government, and also help respond to issues and questions on various federal policies and legislation.

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

MPS not only provided me with the skills and knowledge to prepare for a career, but also helped enhance my marketability as a job candidate. The program provided helpful sessions on how to apply for jobs, resume workshops, mock interview sessions with program staff and alumni, and also a professional headshot, and business cards. There were also networking opportunities with various visits from alumni throughout the academic term and senior bureaucrats, which were a great way of getting information on the work of various ministries and government departments. These also provided connections when applying for jobs, both during co-op and beyond.

What are your favourite MPS moments?

My favourite part about MPS during the 8 month academic portion of the degree was how all of the students were really able to come together as a family. Working on various assignments, compiling notes to study for tests and exams, and staying late nights at the program space were just some of the many great memories I have from MPS. The program helped me make friends for a lifetime. I also enjoy that despite completing the academic portion of degree, both co-op students and alumni are invited to events such as the annual mixer and other program events held in Waterloo.

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

Public service has always been something I’ve been interested in from a young age. I always wanted to learn more about how the government worked and ways that I could get involved. Now having the academic experience in MPS and learning about the functions of government and important issues and ways of analysis, I’ve been comfortable dealing with various issues related to policy and current affairs. Based on the foundations from MPS, I’ve been able to apply much of this knowledge in both of my work terms so far. From desiring to work for the government in some capacity, I now know that this is a great way of serving the public directly, especially through my current role.

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

As I’m still early in my public service career, I would say that the best experience I’ve had generally in working in the public service is being able to see the groundwork and policy in action as a Constituency Assistant. Getting to meet people and help them with any problems that they have is both rewarding and enjoyable, which has been a great experience. While this isn’t possible in every case, it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of the role and do your best in every situation. However, I’d definitely say that directly helping people has been both an interesting and rewarding part of my work thus far in the public service.   

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

My primary advice for those considering the MPS program is to definitely apply if you’re looking for a career in government. The multifaceted approach of having eight months of academic work combined with an eight month co-op term and a major team project is something that you can’t find anywhere else. The co-op term is key in terms of building your resume and your career for life beyond the program. The tools and connections that you pick up throughout being a student with MPS are invaluable. This is definitely an awesome opportunity for anyone looking to get involved in government.