How to Interest Your Teen in Public Service


By Dan

Many teens, regardless of how they receive their education, can find themselves wondering about their future. In the modern day and age, things are not as clear-cut as they once were. At one time, going to college or university was a sure-fire way to not only expand one’s critical thinking and social skills but was also practically a guarantee of decent employment in your chosen field. Today, there are seemingly no guarantees in life which can leave your teen feeling adrift and uncertain of their future as they approach adulthood.

Public service can be an excellent choice for any young person looking towards potential career paths. Public service jobs are abundant in city, state, tribal and federal governments, as well as in related organizations such as nonprofits and family service agencies. Not only does the public sector have a huge variety of positions to appeal to just about any teen, but many of the service opportunities can be accessed without any sort of secondary education, giving your teen a head start in their desired field.

The Importance of Public Service

An unfortunate side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an increase in distrust in the US government and, by extension, the world of public sector work. Despite this, public service has never been more important as our societal bonds continue to be tested and more and more US citizens find themselves in need of assistance. Public service agencies help individuals and families stay safe and informed about food, drugs, medical devices, violence prevention, and more.

The rewards of working in the public sector are unbeatable. At its core, service work is about people helping other people and can present an amazing opportunity for your teen to not only begin a career early but also help them grow as a person. Public service is about finding the common ground, even among the most divided populace, and solving the problems that affect people in the areas of health, safety, education, law and public policy.

While there is great intrinsic value and personal satisfaction in entering into the world of public service, working in the field of public service also offers benefits that are long-term and can help your teen get a leg up in life. Public service allows teens to find mentorships and engage in networking as well as giving them the chance to work in many different fields, all the while earning honors and accolades that are very appealing to hiring managers should they ever move on from public service work.

Getting Your Teen Involved Early

Your teen can always go with some common first jobs when seeking employment. However, while babysitting, waiting tables, or working at a grocery store have their own merits, working in community service can help set your teen up for more long-term success in organizations that exist to serve the public good. First jobs tend to be low-stakes, though they come with growth opportunities for them as not only workers but as young adults as well.

Encourage your teen to discover a public service opportunity that speaks to them and their values. Perhaps your teen wants to help those with a disability compete in sports through an organization like the Special Olympics or to help disadvantaged youth to find a place where they feel like they are being seen and heard through the Boys and Girls Club. Perhaps your teen is drawn to animals and can work at their local ASPCA chapter or animal shelter. There are dozens of opportunities that are sure to fit the interests of your teen, you just need to show them all of the possibilities at their fingertips.

Getting your teen involved in public service does not have to be as structured as working with an established program, either. For instance, your teen could meet and network with members of the community while making the neighborhood a safer place to live. Hosting community gatherings or regular meetings can help your teen to uplift members of the community while also giving them invaluable organizational experience that is learned in the best possible way: through direct action.

Public Service Career Opportunities

Just because you can get started early in public service does not mean that it is a requirement to do so. If your teen is seriously considering going to university or college, a wide variety of degrees can help your teen to work in many different areas of public service. Whether they go the STEM route and obtain an Economics or Mathematics degree or even something as practical as a Business Administration degree, there will be plenty of doors that open for them in the public service sector.

Going for a degree in Public Health can allow your teen to become an epidemiologist, community health coordinator, or social service manager. All of these positions not only pay a decent wage from the get-go, they are also invaluable to the healthy fabric of our society by helping people meet basic life, healthcare, and psychological needs, thereby improving the quality of living in local communities.

While the world can seem a bit hectic for a teen, you can always trust that you have educated them and raised them to make sound decisions. Even something as simple as letting your teen know what public service does for society and just how easy it is to get involved can often be enough to give them a sense of direction while giving you peace of mind knowing your child is not only going to succeed but to help make the world a better place.

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