It’s a bit random my having been in local government for the last two years as immediately beforehand I’d been completing an MA in post-war recovery studies. I’d felt that getting a job in the development industry wouldn’t be offering much more than what was available from staff on the ground and saw local government as being the British equivalent to the development industry.
So I applied for and got this job on Hull City Council’s graduate scheme and I’ll be here until the end of September when it comes to an end. We do 4 six month placements and I’ve been working in Schools’ Finance, Streetscene, Private Housing and under the auspices of the Web Steering Group (so Comms & Marketing, ICT, Customer Services). We’ve also been completing a part-time MSc in Public Administration at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Local Government. I was also lucky enough to revisit Sierra Leone (where I had previously done the research for my MA) as part of a Commonwealth and Local Government Forum funded Good Practice Scheme investigating how we can share what we know to support Freetown City Council in their waste management strategy.
It’s been an eye opening experience (for good and bad) but one of the best things about the last two years is discovering the community of people involved with answering the questions of how to serve the public (whether they’re local or national, voluntary or paid for). I’m genuinely inspired when I hear about the ways they’re reducing the layers between who they are and the public they serve.
I love the way the internet is facilitating that transformation because it’s not just about collaboration and sharing virtually, it’s impact on the real world too. As someone who studied a lot of British social and political history at school and university I’m really excited by the way it calls into question the age old relationship between citizen and state. Seeing those discussions in action and understanding how that dynamic evolves is going to be fascinating whatever side of the citizen-state axis I end up post-September.
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