PSG Real Talk: Working for the Local Government
This blog post is for those of you who already know that you want to work in the realm of public service and government, but more specifically the local government. There are so many different careers and then several opportunities within these careers and it can get overwhelming figuring out what exactly it is you want to do. Working for the local government is one aspect of PSG work that is not addressed as often. Keep reading to find out more about what working for the local government can look like!
Meghan Tertocha graduated from UVA in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature and currently works with the Albemarle County Department of Social Services as the Senior Family Preservations Worker.
Generally, when we read alumni stories as students we want to know what experiences these people had during their time at UVA that influenced their career choices. For Meghan, there is a pretty straightforward answer. Meghan says that her classes really "lay the theoretical foundation and analytic framework that led my pursuit of a career focused on social justice and community engagement." Upon graduation, she began working for public nonprofit Community Action Agency, which administered human services projects for the community primarily focused on self-sufficiency.
In terms of financial viability, Meghan has a great deal to say. She first wants to point students towards the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program if you are graduating with student loan debt; however, it is important to know that this program may not be available once budget cuts for this fiscal year are decided but it's always good to keep your eyes open because opportunities are always coming and going! In addition to a program like this Meghan also says "It's true that in public service you are not going to "get rich quick" or take home a huge bonus for landing a deal, but you do typically receive good benefits and have job security." There is also a great deal of flexibility and value in the skills needed for public service because if you ultimately decide that you want to move over to the private sector, the skills you gained are transferable.
Meghan's interview covers many useful things but there are two issues which are particularly worth discussing; self-care and volunteerism. Local government work, especially work that involves families can cause some vicarious trauma, so developing strong self-care strategies is crucial. Self-care has become a buzz word that we hear people throw around but public service work really requires people to understand their boundaries and limits. The work that public servants do is "rewarding because every day at work you're doing your best to strengthen your community, empower families, and keep kids safe." Since this work is so important, it's just as important for you to not get burnt out. The second thing that Meghan really wants to convey to students is that it's important to spend time volunteering while you're in college because the more experience you have with communities the better off you're going to be once you actually start working. Overall, working for the local government has been life-changing, challenging, and also financially comfortable for Meghan and it can be for you too!
Once again the PSG team hopes you were able to gain some insights about working for the local government and find some comfort in the words of someone who has been in your place before. Keep your eyes open for more Real Talk next week!