New York City in recent months has hosted several “Hiring Halls,” offering interviews for over 12,000 government jobs. It began in response to the overwhelming number of vacancies in the city’s public sector, which have impaired the government’s ability to respond to people’s everyday needs. This moment serves as a reminder, not only of the necessity of the public sector, but the abundance of career opportunities in public service, especially for young people or anyone searching for their next calling.
Public service can mean diving into the world of nonprofit organizations. Our community is home to several of these, including the Croton-Cortlandt Food Pantry – which keeps our most vulnerable neighbors fed – and the Sing Sing Family Collective, which supports families with incarcerated loved ones in Ossining. My career in this industry began with volunteering for these amazing local organizations.
A career in public service can also mean governmental work, which I explored during my time working under former Congressman Mondaire Jones: the former representative for much of Northern Westchester. My responsibilities included directly working with constituents to ensure their voices were heard, and their needs were being met. At times, I was settling passport applications, or helping veterans and workers access their benefits. It was a wonderful way to serve our community, and for carving myself a career in an industry with such vibrant and diverse opportunities.
To further support my professional development in the field, I was one of the many students from my undergrad school – Sarah Lawrence College – to complete a Redleaf Internship, where I received a grant that funds a summer internship with a non-profit; I worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. Countless schools across the country have partnerships with the public sector to bolster exploration of this industry, leaving hundreds of scholarships, fellowships, and grants to which students can apply.
Public servants can also attain great success and benefits from their jobs. According to ZipRecruiter, average salaries for this industry range from $50,000 to as high as $140,000. The public sector can even offer employees student loan debt relief in the form of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Eligibility requires that borrowers be employed in the public sector, choose an income-based repayment plan, and make 100 payments. From there, borrowers can have their debt completely forgiven, further proving how lucrative this field can be.
Pursuing public service professionally can mean great success for individuals, and simultaneously allows them to give back to their communities. At a moment when public jobs need to be filled, and the industry is expanding and developing new ways to assist the public, there is no better time to consider these careers.
There is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than making a successful career out of helping people.
Ryan Arecco, a lifelong resident of Croton-on-Hudson, is on a full scholarship at NYU Wagner, in the first year of its Masters of Public Administration program.