Late spring is the season for new beginnings. Millions of students across the country have survived the final stretch of their formal studies, and are now attempting to embrace life after school.
This spring marks 10 years since I graduated high school, 6 years since earning my undergraduate degree, and 4 years of using my MPA to serve the local government profession. Each phase of school challenged me to learn, grow, and contemplate the kind of work I wanted to pursue. Formal education, however, was only one part of the equation that led me to local government. It took a combination of school, family influence, mentors, and life experiences to send me on the rewarding career path I enjoy now. Simple experiences like leading the pledge of allegiance at a Scottsdale, AZ City Council Meeting with my Brownie troop in the first grade; having a grandfather who worked as the director of parks for Monroe County, NY; or spending a summer working with homeless youth in Phoenix all laid the groundwork for me to be well prepared to go work for cities. Not every step of my journey was intentional, but being able to recognize the skills and interests I picked up along the way has allowed me to find and thrive in a career I love.
Reflect on What Fulfills You
While of course I hope anyone reading this seriously considers a career in local government (it is the most rewarding field there is, after all), I want to encourage current and future graduates to reflect on what fundamentally fulfills you, and drive your energy toward pursuing a vocation that fills you with pride and happiness. You may have heard Howard Thurman’s famous words: “Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” This advice is timeless. We are not all a bunch of pegs looking to find the right-shaped holes to fill. Instead, we are all people with limitless potential and unique combinations of qualities and talents. It is our job to recognize and build upon whatever value we can bring to the world.
If you want to explore a career in local government, you are in the right place. Just a few weeks ago, the Life Well Run blog posted several outstanding resources to assist in pursuing a job with a local jurisdiction. Professional local government management is the field we have chosen to pursue to make our mark on the world. We’d love for you to join us. However, even if this isn’t your dream, don’t forget that our communities need passionate and talented people in every sector across all industries in order to thrive. Together, we are all responsible to create the future.
If you’re a part of the class of 2017—go celebrate, enjoy your freedom from classes and papers, and then get to work, because this world needs you to come alive.