What a career in public service means to me
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What a career in public service means to me

May 5, 2022
Kat Johansen

Public Service Recognition Week is a good opportunity to reflect on what drives me to seek a career in public service. I grew up in a family with individuals who dedicated their careers to the fields of law and medicine and who instilled in me the value of service. I am drawn to work in a career that would enable me to better the lives of people in my community.

Serving in Congress

To explore the world of public service, I became an intern for my congressional representative in his district office. This was a prime opportunity for me to learn how to serve my country in the legislative branch, and perhaps more importantly, to support my local community.

I learned firsthand that a congressional district office is not only the place where constituents go to express their views or ask for help, but also a liaison between the legislative and executive branches.

District office staff assist constituents in getting their social security checks, handle veterans’ casework and help small businesses secure loans from the government. Office staff also ensure the representative is aware of prominent local issues. Staffers share issues that are important to constituents and encourage a legislative response when necessary.  

I continue to value this experience—from speaking with constituents and hearing their gratitude for work done on their behalf to observing the staff’s tireless commitment to addressing constituent casework. I am deeply grateful that this office provided me with a strong foundation to continue working toward a future in public service.

Serving in a nonprofit organization

After working in the district office, I began working in nonprofit organizations that provide vital assistance to local communities. As a result, I am now a graduate student working toward a master’s degree in public policy in our nation’s capital.

I am excited to broaden my knowledge of public service and find the most effective ways to serve my local community. I hope to return to my hometown and work at a nonprofit organization or government office to give back to my community.

One civil servant who solidified my passion for public service—and someone I consider an example of what a public servant should be—is current U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power.

Throughout her career in public service, Power has led and approached difficult situations on the world stage with empathy, grace and compassion. She has never been afraid to express her thoughts on a controversial issue, even if that means someone with more authority disagrees with her.

I can only hope to one day be a leader like her and follow her example by approaching my work with these core values.

Visit GoGovernment.org to discover your call to serve and learn how to start your public service career in the federal government or legislative branch.

Kat Johansen is an intern on the Partnership’s Government Affairs team.

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