3 Influential Government Careers for Civic-Minded Graduates

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Most kids don’t think much about working for the government when they grow up, except maybe someday becoming President of the United States. Come high school graduation, students with an interest in political science and public administration start to think about making an impact on their city, state, or country by pursuing a career in government.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the Ohio University online Master of Public Administration program.

How public administration graduates can create positive changes through government roles.

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Get Started On a city Manager Career

The city manager, a government system for managing cities that includes a city council and city manager, was first proposed in the U.S. by the National Short Ballot Organization. In 1913, Dayton, Ohio, became the first large city to adopt it.

Benefits of the City Manager Role for Citizens and the Government

There are numerous perks associated with the city manager role on either side of the government-society fence. For one, it reduces the number of elected officials and patronage jobs. It also unifies local political responsibility and authority in one position. Additionally, it centralizes administrative responsibilities.

The role of the city manager includes several eclectic duties. Among these responsibilities are preparing budgets, directing the work of municipal departments, creating proposals for new ordinances and resolutions, and holding meetings with citizens to hear concerns. An undergraduate degree in public administration is the minimum requirement for the city manager role. That said, a master’s degree may help boost a candidate’s competitiveness in the job market. The median salary for the position is $89,229.

5 Tips for Success as a City Manager

One of the key steps to success as a city manager is to respect the city’s plan of governance. It’s also important to take time to develop a relationship with city council members. Thirdly, critique ideas without critiquing the individual. Additionally, it’s vital to not choose “favorites” among staff members. Finally, it’s important to communicate a clear policy direction.

Consider a Director of Public Policy Government Career

The director of public policy works with government officials, legal professionals, and local organizations to advocate for a specific cause or idea. The positive impact of this role extends to vulnerable communities, American citizens, and the U.S. government.

The responsibilities for the director of public works position include developing and implementing an organization’s legal advocacy and public policy agenda, identifying and pursuing fundraising opportunities, and building relationships and partnerships with legal and policy partners to support an organization’s causes. Many organizations prefer those in the position to hold an advanced degree in public affairs or law, and the role’s median salary is $81,545.

Fundamental Competencies for Senior Government Leaders

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) lists several core competencies for senior government leaders. These include interpersonal skills, oral and written communication, continual learning, honesty and integrity, and a motivation for public service,

Take the Reins As a Government Affairs Director

Government affairs directors bring together the best interests of businesses and the government and advocate for legislation that ensures the financial success of both.

Benefits of the Government Affairs Director Role for Business and the Government

One of the primary benefits of the role is that it improves the business climate via advocating for legislation that supports the business. It also keeps the best interests of businesses in mind to ensure the financial success of the local, state, and federal governments.

The responsibilities of the government affairs director include providing government officials with input on policies from an employer’s perspective, representing a company to the government, supervising a team of analysts responsible for collecting data both internal and external and recommending a position for a company to take and preparing for change. While obtaining an undergraduate degree in public affairs or business is the minimum requirement for the role, a master’s degree may help increase a candidate’s job market competitiveness. The median salary for the government affairs director is $98,418.

Next Steps for Success in a Government Career

There are several other steps to take once the decision to enter into a government career has been made. These steps include seeking out mentors for specific career advice, request challenging assignments to develop skills, signing up for management development training, asking for constructive feedback from management, and moving out of the “comfort zone” to learn from a variety of experiences before applying for that dream job.


A career in government is a unique opportunity to advocate for social causes and support the interests of local businesses. Pursuing a master of public administration will help prepare civic-minded graduates for a career in government and may increase their competitiveness in the job market.