Virtual Museum of Public Service

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.