This is a guest post by digital strategist Logan Harper.
Making a career choice can be hard for students no matter the economy. And during harsh times, it becomes imperative to enter a field where your degree will be of value upon graduation. Public Service is one field that is always in need of bright, young, idealistic graduates.
A career in public service can allow you to have a direct impact on the lives of others in a variety of sectors including necessities like food, water, shelter, medical care and emergency services. You can also enrich communities by supporting cultural centers, educational opportunities and recreational facilities. Besides the satisfaction that comes from working to help others, many public service jobs provide good pay and benefits, resources for continuing education and opportunity to travel or work abroad.
This is perhaps the best time ever to pick public service over the private sector. Public services once only performed by the government are now also carried out by the “new public sector.” As a result, federal, state and local governments are not the only choices for public service careers. There are growing numbers of positions at nonprofit and non-governmental organizations. Sectors include healthcare, the environment, education, homeland security and international aid.
There are several prospects to choose from and it can be hard to determine what direction to go. As a result, many budding public service professionals chose their career based upon their personal passion.
David Schachter, assistant dean for student affairs at New York University’s Graduate School of Public Service,suggests four “lenses” that can be used to guide you in choosing your public service field: an issue you care about, the role you want to play, the kind of organization you want to work for (a large one with multiple chapters say, or a small state agency on the cutting edge of something experimental), or the system you want to work in (public schools or prisons, for example).
There will be a constant demand for public services, which means public service careers provide more job security than the private sector. Employing more than 2 million civilians, the largest public service employer is the federal government. ThePartnership for Public Service reports there are tens of thousands of new federal jobs each year, with the majority of these positions outside Washington, D.C. Federal careers provide generous vacation leave, flexible work schedules and family support services.
Advancing into the public service field of course requires training and professional credentials. Obtaining a high-level degree in public administration is an excellent jumping off point. During the last several decades, theMaster of Public Administration (MPA) has emerged as the degree of choice for public service.
Furthermore, many top policy makers, managers and leaders have entered public service with an MPA. This degree provides you the skills and experience needed for apublic service career by teaching you how to help solve the problems facing government and the new public sector.
About the Author: Logan Harper is a digital strategist for UNC-Chapel Hill’s MPA@UNC: public administration online degree and MBA@UNC: business administration online degree programs. In addition to higher education, he is interested in international politics, travel, and reality television. You can follow Logan on Twitter @harperlogan.
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