What it was like working for the Ontario Public Service (OPS) during the pandemic

Putting the knowledge I obtained from SAF to the test 

vbI spent my last co-op work term as a business finance co-op student at the Ontario Public Service, more specifically, the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. I didn’t work directly with Premier Doug Ford, but I did receive a few emails from him!

I vividly remember walking into the office on my first day not knowing what to expect. By the end of the day (after my nerves settled down), I was already anticipating the challenges of my second day. Many assume that working for the government is slow-paced, boring and unsatisfying⁠—but that was not the case at this branch.

I experienced a new set of challenges each day which I overcame by working alongside a senior accountant. The controllership unit where I worked, consisted of six employees which helped my professional development as I worked one on one with each employee. Most of the tasks that I was accountable for as a co-op student consisted of preparing reconciliations, finding solutions to discrepancies, and creating journals. But that was not all! During my first month, I was assigned the responsibility of explaining year-end processes to a group of 40 public servants. This wasn’t just a great experience that improved my skills, it was a great opportunity to use the additional knowledge that I had in comparison to my colleagues, which made me a valuable asset to the organization.

During the transition to working from home due to COVID-19, many challenges arose. One of the main challenges of working from home was missing out on the one-on-one guidance that I received when working in the office. However, this was overcome through the use of technology and the ability to use the screen sharing and video chat features on Skype. The few emails that I did receive from Premier Doug Ford were regarding the COVID-19 response and his acknowledgement of the hard work Ontario public servants continued to put in despite the difficult circumstances. As I was suddenly in a position where I needed to be more independent in the work I completed, there were many mistakes I made. However, these mistakes made me a better version of myself as the senior accountant I worked with continued to give me feedback and input.

Overall, I would have to say my experience at the Ontario Public Service was nothing like I imagined or expected, but I loved it. The knowledge I obtained from the University of Waterloo was definitely put to the test each day.

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