Public Service as a Profession (A-2)


Public Service as a Profession (A-2)


"Careers focused on lifting up our communities – whether it's helping transform troubled schools or creating after-school programs or training workers for green jobs. These careers are not always obvious, but today they are necessary."

- Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

Public service embodies the ethical principles of the common good, service to others and social equity. Public service is important because the essential components of our society are largely carried out in the public sphere. For example, public service is rendered in: public education, public health, justice and security, environmental protection, museums and the arts. Public service attracts a special kind of individual and is often based on a sense of duty or an intense inner commitment to a cause that extends beyond the pressures of the moment. Those who work in public service institutions achieve great internal satisfaction by making a contribution to a society as opposed to a commitment to achieving only personal goals. They enter public service out of a desire to serve the public interest and to link themselves to the larger community.

The parameters of public service continue to change and expand in order to serve the diverse needs of growing populations, and its values framework is becoming more complex as it embraces ideas from multidisciplinary approaches. To meet the needs of our communities, education, training and professional practice in public service related fields should accommodate these developments.

Government and nonprofit organizations offer opportunities for building careers in public service. Government positions range from direct service providers to commissioners and cabinets secretaries. Typical employers include counties, townships, school districts, courts, legislative agencies, congressional offices and federal departments. Nonprofit positions range from hands-on functions to directors and officers. Typically employers include nonprofit agencies, foundations, charitable organizations, special interest groups, libraries, museums, historic sites, research organizations and educational institutions.

In the additional resources section to the right is an overview of a collection of public service narratives, "Ask me why I care," under "Tell your story." They were curated by the University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Public Affairs and Community Service in a Public Service Stories Project. Project Co-Directors are Dr. Mary Hamilton and Ms. Rita Paskowitz.

The collection is presented in four groups and each group is accessible in the related VMPS galleries. Each group includes a set of suggested assignments for students. Further details are provided in the Public Service Stories exhibit, which can be opened below in this gallery.

Some of the exhibits in this area contain oaths with which public servants pledge to serve their fellow citizens.

Collection Items

Millicent (Wilson) Hearts, Philanthropist
Millicent Hearst (1882 - 1974) is best known for founding the Free Milk Fund for Babies in 1921. For decades, it helped provide milk to the poor people of New York City, raising money through a variety of activities, such as boxing matches. However,…

A Model Office-Seeker
"The government is us. Government jobs belong to the American people, not to politicians, and should be filled only with regard to public service." - President Theodore Roosevelt A sense of having been wronged… brought Charles Julius Guiteau to the…

The Crusaders
"No man who is corrupt, no man who condones corruption in others, can possibly do his duty by the community." - President Theodore Roosevelt Caption: "Marching embattled 'gainst the Saracens of Graft." Illustration shows a large group of politicians…

Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS)
The Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS) inspires, engages, and connects emerging public service leaders with a unique career planning and professional development opportunity. The Fellowship recognizes the strong commitment to…

Geo. F. Baker, U.S. Financier and Philanthropist
George Baker has had many buildings named after him, because he used his funds to donate to higher education for those around him. Harvard Business school named their library after him when he gave them a starting grant of over $5 million in 1924.…

Pi Alpha Alpha (NASPAA)
The purpose of Pi Alpha Alpha (NASPAA) is to encourage and recognize outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in public affairs and administration. Its objectives, such as fostering integrity, professionalism, and effective performance, promote the…

Oath Annually Recited by Townsend Harris High School Students
"Open the doors to all. Let the children of the rich and the poor take their seats together and know of no distinction save that of industry, good conduct, and intellect." - Townsend Harris (1804-1878) "I shall never bring disgrace to my city, nor…

Harness the Power of Public Service
Click the link to watch the video

United Nations Public Service Awards
The United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective…

Teaching: The Global Teacher Prize
Nancie Atwell is the 2015 winner of the Global Teacher Prize from the Varkey Foundation. The Global Teacher Prize is a one million dollar award that is given to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. The…
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