Ashley Murphy, Keystone International
Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, a champion of public service

Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995)

"There's no higher calling in terms of a career than public service. Because unlike so much else you could do, it provides the chance to make a difference in people's lives and really improve the world." Those were the words of Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine). Smith dedicated over 50 years of her life to US politics, becoming the first woman to serve in both houses of the United States Congress and represent her home state, Maine. She retired from public life in 1973. When asked if she had any regrets over her career choice, Smith replied, "Yes, but only one: I wish I could have done more for people."

If this is the type of story that inspires you to do great things, then you're definitely suited for life in public service. Read on to learn about five public service career options and one graduate school that can set you on the right path to your dream job.

What is public service?

A public service is intended to serve and support all members of the community. It's often provided by the government, either directly by one of its agencies or through financing private business initiatives or voluntary organizations. Examples of public services can include law enforcement, military services, healthcare, local government, education, and social care.

Why study for a public service degree?

A public policy or public service major teaches students to develop, implement, and evaluate practical solutions for societal problems. It's the ideal degree for students who possess a strong sense of civic duty and a drive to improve the lives of ordinary people, especially those who have unfortunately fallen through society's cracks.

Career options

Law enforcement

Police officers maintain law and order, combat crime, fight terrorism, and reduce incidents of antisocial behavior. But there's much more to the job than just catching 'bad guys.' Police officers play integral roles in building positive relationships between the public, the police, and local and national governments. These community policy initiatives include running focus groups on issues affecting local people and creating a police force that better represents the community it serves.

NGO/Nonprofit worker

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits are voluntary groups or institutions that drive positive social and economic change. Prominent examples of NGOs include Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and different nations’ Refugee Councils. Some NGO workers operate in the field, delivering life-saving services and opportunity-boosting education programs to people living in developing countries. Others focus on promoting or managing the organization or securing additional funding from donors. NGO work is challenging, emotionally taxing, and sometimes dangerous. But it's also a highly rewarding career – one where you'll get the chance to help those who need it most.

Civil servants

Civil servants are employed in the public sector by a government department, agency, or other public organizations. In other words, these are the people who administer and oversee the departments and functions of local and national governments. Civil servants work for the government, not a political party. As such, they have a duty to remain politically neutral and run government departments in the most efficient way possible. Civil service is a stable and well-paid career with numerous opportunities to progress up the ladder or make lateral moves into more challenging positions.

Fundraising, development and advancement professionals

Development and advancement professionals, along with fundraisers, support organizational growth by building partnerships with donors and other organizations. They typically work for nonprofits and foundations, which can either be standalone organizations or be affiliated with a larger entity, similar to the Ford Foundation and the Ford Motor Company. Development and Advancement professionals focus more on donor correspondence and outreach and long-term financial health, whereas fundraisers engage in identifying and prioritizing financial need and raising money to accomplish more short-term goals and objectives.

Higher education management and administration

Education administrators work in universities, colleges, and schools. They're responsible for their organization's administrative processes, including admissions, examinations, finance, marketing, and student services. Successful education administrators must be friendly, approachable, and highly organized. Most importantly, they require a passion for building educational environments that support and empower students of all different backgrounds and careers.

Admissions manager Georgie Cave says, "The higher education sector is a great place to work. I've met so many lovely people, had opportunities to get involved with different events and conferences, and made a difference in an applicant/student's journey. And all while working in a nice environment with a good work/life balance."

The Carsey School of Public Policy

The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire offers two world-class programs aimed at graduates looking to begin or advance a public service career.

The school's Master in Public Policy is a 16-month postgraduate program tailor-made to produce future policy leaders. In addition to classroom and research-based learning, students meet with key policymakers in Congress, the White House, government agencies, and advocacy groups. There are also opportunities to gain valuable practical skills and experience through the program's policy internships and capstone project initiatives.

By the end of their master’s degree, students are intimately familiar with major public policy issues and debates, empowering them to make the changes required to build a better and more sustainable future for communities, states, nations, and the entire planet. Potential career options for Master in Public Policy graduates include policy advocate, sustainability consultant, or nonprofit leader. And the course is an excellent steppingstone for those interested in a political career as an elected official.

The Carsey School also offers an online Master in Community Development program. Designed for working professionals who want to take their career to the next level, this innovative and fully remote 14-month program provides a flexible learning experience while also creating a strong sense of community and camaraderie between students and instructors.

Students learn from practitioners with decades of experience in economics, finance, organizational management, health and safety, and sustainable development. Through a combination of coursework and a practical four-term capstone community project, students develop effective engagement and problem-solving techniques, preparing them for a myriad of community-based public service roles in the housing, health, finance, or business development sectors.

Kacie Synder is one of Carsey's current public policy students. She says, "I am committed to working in a field that promotes equity and mobility for marginalized populations, and hope to become fluent in advocating for equitable resource distribution and policy priorities. The Master's in Public Policy is helping me achieve that goal."

Meanwhile, student Justus Schriedel says, "After getting involved with organizations like BLM Seacoast last year, I realized I loved social justice work so much that I wanted to make it my career. And that realization inspired me to join the public policy program!"

To find out more about securing your place, register for a spot on one of the school’s upcoming webinars and info sessions. These free, 30-minute sessions provide an overview of each of the school's master programs.

There's also a detailed explanation of the application process, interviews with Carsey School students and alumni, and a breakdown of all the school's funding and scholarship opportunities, as there is on the video below. So take an important step today to make a difference in the world!

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