Guest column: Why I chose a career in government, and why you should too
- Written by Jared Zaifman
Throughout high school and university, I never envisioned working in the public sector. I was always passionate about my city, and saw a real need for change at all levels of government. But after finishing my bachelors degree, I chose to work for my family’s business. A big part of my job involved interacting with municipal officials, and that's when I first became interested in government. I realized that I could help contribute to the planning and growth of my community in a positive way.
Many young graduates aren't aware of the fact that working in the public sector can be a highly interesting and rewarding career. Because government is involved in virtually every facet of life, I often find myself working on a different issue each day. As someone who has diverse interests and who doesn't want to stick with the same project forever, working in the public sector provides me with variety and daily challenges. I know others in my generation value and seek out this type of work environment as well. And I find it pretty cool that, as a civil servant, I get to help my community and the people who live in it.
Running for London City Council further opened my eyes to the value of government. I met a wide array of public officials and became enthralled with their work, but I noticed that job opportunities were scarce. Canadians from the baby boom generation are now working later into their lives and delaying retirement, and that results in fewer job openings for new graduates. However, I remained persistent and decided to pursue a Master of Public Administration (MPA) to bolster my credentials. Toward the end of my degree, I secured employment with the City of Stratford.
I know that I'm one of the lucky few, as finding employment in today’s economy is difficult in any sector. But the good news is that governments need employees from a vast range of professions - whether it be engineers, lawyers, planners, or information technology professionals. And that means today's university and college students can pursue a myriad of professions with the knowledge that there is likely a position in the public sector that fits their skill set. By working in government, you also have the ability to perform a significant civic duty that provides a great deal of meaning and fulfillment.
More than ever, our governments need talented young people who can serve as the leaders of tomorrow. It's important for us to recognize this and to begin taking on positions in the public sector. Otherwise, the policies and decisions that are enacted by our governments will continue to be based on old ways of thinking, and will constantly hold us in the past.
Jared Zaifman is a recent graduate of the Local Government Program at Western University. He currently works as the Special Projects Officer for the City of Stratford, Ontario. In 2010, Jared ran for London City Council in Ward 14.