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Working at the Ministry of Transportation

posted 31 Dec 2010, 08:08 by Dennis Ideler   [ updated 23 Nov 2011, 17:32 ]
On December 31st, 2010, I finished my 8 month Co-op work term at the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). At the MTO I was part of the Business Support, Policy and Planning Unit (BSPPU).

The MTO's history dates back to 1916. Now, the MTO is an enormous government organization with thousands of employees and offices spread all over Ontario. I worked at the head office located in St. Catharines. Being an enormous organization, the corporate hierarchy is also very large. If I visualize it as a tree, it would look something like this: The root is the Honourable Minister and has the Deputy Minister (DM) as its child. The DM has various Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) as its children and possibly some other roles as well, for example a Chief  Information Officer (CIO). The next level of children would be Directors, and their children are Managers, and their children are Supervisors or Project Managers (PMs), and then they have some children as well, for example Business Analysts or Co-op students. So that's a quick and dirty description of the organization chart.

My Experience In A Nutshell
I worked at the MTO for 8 months. During the Summer/Spring I would bike it to work. The building has a bike and changing room, a child day care centre, cafeteria, and more.

Thursdays were sushi Thursdays with the team. At my previous Co-op position, we would go for pay-day sushi which was every other week, with my team at the MTO it was usually every week. We tried many different sushi joints, but it wasn't always Japanese food. We would also go for Vietnamese, Mexican, Thai, Caribbean, and more. What I really liked about working in Downtown St. Catharines was the Market Square which is home to the Farmer's Market three days a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays). Great inexpensive food that you can bring back to the office or eat in a park Downtown.

First month was a lot of reading and getting to know everyone and how things function around the place, typical beginner stuff for any new position. My cubicle was initially segregated from my team for a few months because it was the only available cubicle. I later got a cubicle in the same area as my team and our team work instantly increased.

During the first four months I worked on various projects. I was involved in about four projects at a time. During the last four months, our new Intranet environment had launched I switched over to supporting it full time (I also spent some time on other projects but not nearly as much).

Some days in  a public sector job can be very slow, and yet other days can be hectic. Due dates are always flying around as people try to make them, although it's very common for projects to be overdue. There are people that don't do much but still show up just to get paid (fyi: it's very hard to get laid off from a government position), and then there are people who really enjoy their job and it shows in their work and personality. The latter kind is what my team was mostly comprised of. I had a superb manager who was very approachable (which matters a lot) and had an open mind to issues and took your feedback into consideration. I had three  different supervisors and worked with many more. My supervisors were eager to teach me new things and they also enjoyed learning things from me. I also had the opportunity to work with a pleasant group of consultants which I micromanaged at some points of the Intranet Migration project, so I even got great leadership experience!

The MTO also held many events and activities during my 8 month stay. There was
  •  a sporting event field trip for our branch, included volleyball, baseball, soccer, and more
  • an "Eat n Eat" event which was like a potluck but you bring delicious unhealthy food and try to put on as much weight as possible (this event was opt-in)
  • a Halloween event where our whole floor was decorated and a boardroom was transformed into an actual haunted house (it was difficult to work that day because every minute you heard screams). There was also a costume contest
  • Christmas parties: one day Santa showed up for all the kids, the other day our branch had an enormous room booked for the day where we played rock band, poker, mario kart, listened to speeches, and won free booze
  • Lunch & Learn events such as "How to manage your time effectively" and many more
  • 50/50 weekly contests with half of the proceeds going to office events and an overseas foster child
If you ever get the opportunity to work in the public sector, give it a try, it may be your dream job hidden in disguise!
Dennis Ideler,
23 Nov 2011, 17:40
Dennis Ideler,
23 Nov 2011, 17:40
Dennis Ideler,
23 Nov 2011, 17:40