Thursday, July 16, 2020

Review: The CQ Press' Career Guide for Public Sector Students (2020)

The CQ Press' Career Guide for Public Sector Students (2020) by Michelle C. Pantz is an informative book on careers in government and the nonprofit community. Geared towards undergraduate and graduate students, the booklet provides essential steps on finding your passion and the steps to pursue it. Professor Pautz (who has a background in public administration) guides the reader through an introduction to the public sector, recommended curriculum considerations, supplemental opportunities and experiences outside the classroom, and career profiles of individuals currently working in the public sector. Lastly, the book provides a career checklist with valuable insights on resume building, social media strategies, and networking.

This book has two major strengths. First, the application activities encourages readers to set personal and professional goals. These activities are motivating because you can discover new ideas and identify your academic and professional interests. Second, the curricular and co-curricular options enable students to develop a better understanding of how to tie their major and interests to the workplace. Too often, students believe they must major in traditional fields such as political science to pursue a successful career in the public sector. The truth is any major is sufficient as long as you gain knowledge and skills in the area that you wish to work. For example, a student who wants to specialize in social policy can major in, for example, sociology or social work, and link their research interests and co-curricular activities (e.g., internships, volunteer service) to a particular area within social policy (e.g., access to health care, poverty reduction, education, or labor). Employers care more about how your academic, research, and professional experiences can enhance the organization.

Once students have chosen their research area of interest, they should create an e-portfolio or master resume of their accomplishments in college. Professor Pautz suggests also graduate and professional school as an option to gain new skills and specialized knowledge as well as accelerate career growth. Examples form the booklet include earning a Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Public Administration (MPA), or Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) for example. I would go one step further and recommend other applicable fields such as a Master of Social Work (MSW) with a specialization in macro practice, Master of Public Health (MPH) with a specialization in health education or health policy, or a Master of Arts in Education (MA) with a specialization in public policy. These programs exist and require extra diligence and effort on your part. Research the different programs' websites for admissions requirements, attend graduate school and career fairs in your region (e.g. Idealist Graduate Fair), or speak to career services at your alma mater.

Overall, this is a useful guide for any student or early career changer who is new to the public sector. It is well organized, practical with action items, and easy to follow. I would have found this book (less than 50 pages in length) very convenient during my undergraduate studies. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Personality Test Update: I am a Defender (ISFJ)

It has been nearly four years since I had last taken a personality test. At the time, my results came back as an Advocate (INFJ). However, my employment history changed since that time frame -- new job, more responsibilities, and greater confidence in my skills and abilities. My specialty area narrowed from higher education to legal education. Thus, I believed this was the right time to complete another personality test.

According to the 16Personalities.com, I am a Defender (ISFJ-A).

ISFJ: Intuitive, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging-Assertive
Role: Sentinel
Strategy: Confident Individualism
Defenders are true altruists, meeting kindness with kindness-in-excess and engaging the work and people they believe in with enthusiasm and generosity.

Combining the best of tradition and the desire to do good, Defenders are found in lines of work with a sense of history behind them, such as medicine, academics and charitable social work.

Few personality types are as practical and dedicated as Defenders. Known for their reliability and altruism, Defenders are good at creating and maintaining a secure and stable environment for themselves and their loved ones. Defenders’ dedication is invaluable in many areas, including their own personal growth.
Below is a breakdown of the ISTJ personality type:
  • Introversion: Defenders tend to spend time alone or with small, familiar groups of friends. They expend energy in social situations, but need to recharge when by themselves.
  • Sensing: Defenders tend to focus on immediate needs rather than future possibilities. They value realism and common sense, and they like ideas with practical applications.
  • Feeling: Defenders make decisions based on their principles and values. They give more weight to social implications than logic, especially in cases where personal considerations or feelings are concerned. 
  • Judging: Defenders prefer to make decisions early, predict outcomes, and stick to plans. Their lives are structured -- predictability is their preference over spontaneity.  
  • Assertive: Assertive Defenders are generally more confidently proactive and thus are more visible. They have a greater likelihood of receiving recognition for accomplishments.
Defenders have a strong desire to serve and protect others. People with the ISFJ personality type are known to be hardworking, reliable, supportive, organized, observant, and emotionally intelligent to feelings around them. They are kind, loyal, and considerate. Furthermore, they value traditions and history highly in their decisions.

While Defenders prefer to work in solitary environments, they also appreciate working with others. They also thrive in service-oriented occupations that require caring for others and utilizes their exceptional skills in problem-solving tasks. While they prefer to avoid the limelight, they want to be appreciated for their contributions. Lastly, they get satisfaction from closure and enjoy completing tasks.

By their very nature, Defenders are humble, persistent, and dedicated workers. They are also not afraid of mundane and necessary tasks, especially if it means those small tasks can help lead them to a greater goal. As for weaknesses, people with the ISFJ personality type tend to dislike change, prefer to work with people over numbers, have trouble with conflict, may neglect their own needs (e.g., shy away from expressing their own emotions), and may take criticism too seriously.

These results underscore the progress I have made in my own personal and career development in the last five years. I was a young idealist in graduate school, but I was not sure on what I wanted to do with my life. Since then, I gained skills and experience at several mission-driven nonprofits. I am more self-aware of my own work style. After reflecting on my career history to date, I listed these strengths:
  • I am selfless, resourceful, empathetic, and imaginative. 
  • I flourish in positive work environments that provide stability.
  • I prefer organizations whose missions align with my values.
  • I enjoy providing practical solutions to problems.  
  • I consider myself a detailed-oriented person who takes it upon herself to make sure the job gets done well. 
  • I like feeling appreciated for the work that I put into improving processes within the organization.

What is your personality type? Share in the comments section.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

EPI: The Devastating Impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on Black Americans

The Economic Policy Institute, a progressive-leaning research think tank, released a report entitled "Black workers face two of the most lethal preexisting conditions for coronavirus—racism and economic inequality" (June 1, 2020). The report examines the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on black workers (click here for the press release). Key findings revealed that:
  • Black workers are less likely to continue working from the safety of their homes;
  • Black workers are more likely to be classified as essential workers and face health insecurity as a result;
  • More than one in six black workers lost their jobs between February 2020 and April 2020;
  • Black workers are disproportionately more likely to live in areas experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks;
Black workers are more likely than other workers of other races to be employed in front-line occupations (e.g., public transit; child care and social services; trucking, warehouse, & postal service). The devastating effects of COVID-19 are a reflection of persistent economic and health disparities in the black community. Underlying factors exacerbating the economic and physical well-being of Black Americans include historically higher unemployment rates, significant black-white wage gaps, benefits gaps, lower shares of black households with multiple wage-earners, higher shares of households with single parents, less cash reserves, higher incidence of pre-existing health conditions, less access to medical care and health insurance, higher proportion of families living in densely populated housing, and higher proportion of multigenerational households with older family members at risk of contracting the virus. Although Congress passed the CARES Act in late March 2020 to ameliorate the disease's economic impact on workers and families, the response has yielded uneven results because of differential access to the resources. Racial disparities also exist in who has access to computer and broadband Internet subscription in their home and access to bank accounts.

Black Americans continue to make up a disproportionate number of reported COVID-19 deaths. Congressional leaders, municipal leaders, health care experts, and community organizations should use these findings to develop interventions that will help reduce the disparate racial impact of the COVID-19 disease. These factors revealed how the ongoing effects of racism can produce unequal outcomes in access to employment, health care, and housing. For more information about the impact of COVID-19 on Black Americans, check out the links below: