Community careers create opportunity for students

A high school diploma grants each student incredible opportunity. Yet many don’t explore the depth and extent of this opportunity in considering potential careers after high school.

One of the most overlooked job paths for high school students is in working for the city, and, as the city undergoes rapid expansion and growth, these jobs are increasingly important.

“A city like Bryan is responsible for many services, which also means we need a support staff to provide services to the public,” Mayor Jason Bienski said. “As we grow, public safety is a service that requires appropriate staffing levels.  Over the last five years, the City of Bryan has added more police and fire personnel than all other departments combined.”

In terms of city services, the City of Bryan maintains not only Police and Fire Departments, but also many public parks, pools, recycling centers, utilities, waste management services, and staffs a wide variety of professionals, from accountants and video producers to lawyers and city developers and planners.

While many students might be interested in a particular trade, like design or engineering, these practices can be easily applied to a career in local government.

Such jobs in the municipal government do not always require a college degree or post-graduate work, as the viability of the community depends on people of a wide array of skill sets. Many students who learn practical trades in their high school classes can enter the workforce immediately after graduation.

“Depending on an area of interest, a student could pursue our criminal justice program, and there’s a whole four-year curriculum for student interest in that,” lead Academic Advisor Heidi Sauer said. “Also, we have a pathway that focuses on hospitality and tourism, so there are classes on travel and tourism management and hotel management.”

One of the most important aspects of obtaining a job within the government of an expanding city such as Bryan is the job security that it provides. While other professions may see substantial cutbacks and layoffs during difficult economic times, a city that is growing will still require and need its staff.

“We have learned that while pay and benefits are important when an individual makes a job or career decision, other factors such as work/family balance, open communication, strong moral/ethical values, innovation and creativity, and recognition for a job well done are possibly just as important,” Bienski said. “The key to enjoying a job is finding what it is you truly like, do it well, and you’ll never feel like you are actually working!”

Another career field linked to government is that of public education, in not only the public school district, but also for the Texas A&M system, whose Health Science Center is rapidly expanding in Bryan.

When students consider careers, it is advisable to consider options in both the private and public sector. Students should try shadowing a professional in the given field or taking up an internship, especially while still in school, as students have a much safer opportunity to try new things.

“I would encourage students to definitely try at least one course to see what the area of interest is, or, at least talk to a teacher who teaches those courses to see if that’s a pathway that they’re interested in pursuing,” Sauer said. “That would give them some good experience for when they’re done with high school.”

By serving in local government, students can serve their city, and effectively become closer to the community they live in, while also accumulating substantial benefits and doing what they enjoy.

“I like to tell young people who are thinking about careers that almost anything is possible in local government – the opportunities are virtually limitless,” Bienski said. “I caution students on deciding early on a career, instead become familiar with the many opportunities we are afforded in the United States.  Students should not decide on a career early in their education and then believe options do not exist. I believe the City of Bryan workplace is enticing but so is the quality of life in Bryan.”

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