September 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm #169397
Jon Kuhl, a blog contributor for the National Conference of State Legislatures, covered a panel of young state legislators and legislative staffers last month. Kuhl profiles the moderator, John Celok, who recently wrote a book entitled “The Next Generation: Young Elected Officials and Their Impact on American Politics” where he outlines the following four “starting points” for a successful young career in public service:
1. People who want to make politics their career.
2. People who begin their careers as legislative staffers.
3. Having a parent who is a politician.
4. People who are motivated by idealism.
Did you start your career coming down one of these paths? Or did you have a different experience?
Millennials – what attracted you to public service?
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September 27, 2012 at 1:36 am #169403
I had a different experience than the career paths mentioned on this discussion. First, I wasn’t even thinking about a career path in public service in the 1980’s. In 1988, after being laid off from my pharmacy technician job, a friend of mine encouraged me to apply for the sheriff’s department. Needing a job to support my family, on November 1988, I began my criminal justice career working for the county jail as a correctional officer. I also became a deputy sheriff during my tenure with the county jail. This experience, especially when dealing with inmates, prepared me when I applied for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Three Rivers, Texas in 1991. I would have loved to have stayed working for the county jail, but the organizational politics of the agency was just too much and the pay and benefits were dismal.
I related my county jail experience to an article written by Eran Vigoda-Gadot and Itai Beeri (2011) entitle, “Change-Oriented Organizational Citizenship Behavior in Public Administration: The Power of Leadership and the Cost of Organizational Politics.” Organizational politics contributed to a weaker job performance, reduced job satisfaction, increased job anxiety and stress and poorer performance of the organization and the individual. Due to the shortage of correctional officers, we were mandated to work an extra day, usual one of our days off, to keep staff on shift. Some officers decided not to come in on their assigned mandated days, putting job stress on those that did show up for work. I had been there three years and remained loyal to the agency.
Every correctional officer wants the opportunity to become a patrol officer. When the opportunity came, I applied for the position. I had been there three years, earned my basic police certificate, came in on my mandated days, rode along with patrol officers on my own time for experience, followed the directives of my supervisors and was dependable to the agency at a time when officers were leaving to work at the newly built federal prison that opened in Three Rivers, Texas. Out of the five candidates, I was told I met the expectations of the interview board, however, a female officer with less time than me and that had a relationship with a member of the interview board, was selected. There was no fairness or equity in the selection process, thus putting me in the disgruntled category.
Shortly thereafter, I followed the rest of my friends that had already been hired by the Bureau of Prisons. Currently, I have served the Federal Bureau of Prisons for over 22 years with retirement just around the corner. In addition, I am working on my MPA in order to continue my service to the public as either a college instructor or some type of elected office.
Unfortunately, I would not be able to address your second question since I am not an Echo Boomer.
September 29, 2012 at 3:12 am #169401
Dawn E. DoyleParticipant
I too did not journey down one of the above mentioned paths; instead I took the road most traveled and like most people my age after high school, chose employment opportunities that consisted of food services (waitress), retail sales and secretarial work. It wasn’t until I reached the age of 27 that I realized the importance of public service and then it wasn’t until the age of 53 before I decided that I wanted to enter into public service employment. During the late 80’s and early 90’s, while working as the senior sales manager for a large corporate hotel, I had the opportunity to work with public leaders through planning conventions and meetings for their agencies.
While working at the hotel, I also had the honor of working with a brilliant general manager; his leadership skills were change oriented, and promoted individual behavior that contributed to the social and psychological environment through Organ’s (1988) taxonomy of five dimensions; altruism, courtesy, conscientiousness, civic virtue and sportsmanship. Pulling from both transactional and transformational leadership, the leadership-member exchange theory (LMX) was clearly present in the GM’s philosophy of out-of-the-box thinking, which ultimately caused many employees to develop positives roles within the organization; the “good soldier syndrome” would be an accurate description of the behavior of many.
To lend example; when the hotel was purchased; the new GM required that all employees reapply for their positions; by doing this he was able to meet each employee personally and obtain an understanding of their personal and work ethics. All but two employees were given their jobs back; reason being the two were not rehired was because they refused to reapply. More importantly the GM instilled positive work ethics and team work by performing tasks that he expected of others, like picking up pieces of paper in the hallway or elevators; showing pride and concern for the organization and employees. He was truly a one in a million leader.
My attraction for public service came by way of chance after transferring from Northern New Mexico College to TAMUCC in 2008 to complete my last year of Biology. Due to organizational politics, I took charge of my environment and changed my minor in Criminal Justice, to my major; in 2010 I received my BS. After which I was approached by a member of the Public Administration Department and told about the opportunities and rewards of public service. This is the beginning point of my journey into public administration. By thinking outside the box and being a good soldier, I have come to believe that professional public service is a worthwhile profession that serves my community and is a personally rewarding experience.
September 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm #169399
Hi Dawn! So are you still in Corpus?
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