Real Talk with PSG Alum Schuyler Miller
Welcome back from spring break! Many of the Real Talk Series blogs in the past have covered specific avenues you can take to grasp the financial viability of working in the PSG field. For example, taking up an extra job at the beginning of your career to make ends meet, reaping the extra benefits that come with a government job, or be patient as you work your way up the ladder. Today, let's hear from a PSG alum who encourages students to embrace the essence of being a public servant and revel in the positive impact a public servant can have!
Schuyler Miller graduated from UVA in 2015 with a B.A. in Government and Foreign Affairs. He currently works as an advisor on the Anticorruption team of The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), which is the lead bureau responsible for international criminal justice issues for the U.S. Department of State. His team works to develop stronger international standards and build capacity in countries around the world to combat corruption and other crimes.
Schuyler knew from a very young age that he wanted to dedicate his life to public service because of his families military background and his experience living in different parts of the world. In particular, his experience growing up in Brooklyn, New York and Abilene, Texas, exposed him to the struggles communities can face and how hard people work to help these communities thrive. He decided to study government and foreign affairs because "was driven to work in a field where I could focus on systems within which people govern and seek to affect the laws, policies, and outcomes that result." Apart from in the classroom, Schuyler engaged in different internship opportunities such as the U.S. State Department, which strengthened his skill set and gave him experience with the legislative process, citizen engagement, and advocacy, and the role of the U.S. national security efforts play in keeping Americans safe around the world.
In regards to the financial viability of being a public servant, Schuyler has many ideas to offer.He suggests that if you find the money to be really limited, "you may want to consider working for the private sector first and then transitioning to the public sector, as many do to help pay off student loans." Another alternative is to work in the non-profit sector and finding multiple opportunities, via grants, for example, to financially support yourself and your efforts. However, Schuyler really wants to stress to students to "embrace the value of service and realize that in most cases, you can at least manage with a decent lifestyle on a government or non-profit salary."
Schuyler claims that there is an incredibly long list of characteristics needed for a government job, but to boil it down simply, it is crucial to have some perspective. commitment, and a strong willingness to learn. The willingness to learn is especially important because as you progress in the field you will encounter things that you are not familiar with. For example, prior to his current role, Schuyler worked for the National Endowment for Democracy. His role there entailed supporting activists, scholars, and policy-makers through a global network called the World Movement for Democracy, and his role now involves some of the same skills but is regarding a completely separate topic.
For students who are looking to do similar work upon graduation, Schuyler recommends gaining as much as paid or unpaid internship experience as possible because it allows you to challenge your assumptions as well as broaden your horizons. Apart from internship experience, he really advocated for engaging in your own communities as much as possible, through service organizations, volunteering, local government, and citizen-to-citizen engagement.
As many of you continue the job search process, we hope this message from Schuyler has inspired the public servant in you. Don't forget to check out next weeks PSG newsletter for another story!