Sometimes the dream job doesn’t start out that way

We asked:

Are you doing the job you dreamed of having when you were fresh out of school? Are you working in an environment where you feel supported by managers who can help you reach your goals? If you’re not in your dream job, then what’s the plan to get it?

You said:

I am in my dream job! While in high school, I realized I wanted a career in the public or nonprofit sector. In college, I narrowed it down to the federal government, so I pursued degrees to prepare me (bachelor of science in legal administration and criminal justice and a master of public administration). I moved from the Midwest to the Washington area to increase my opportunities.

Though we’ve been the brunt of negative press, I can still say I’m proud to work for the federal government and I’m pleased with my career path.

C.E. Carter

Justice Department

What a job — dynamic, challenging and rewarding. I went into public service when I was in high school. I envisioned myself as a key player in something, not sure what, but I felt I had something of value to add. Do I ever.

Our group provides all of the combat support logistics equipment for the U.S. Marine Corps and improvised explosive device equipment and many other valuable assets. They are fighting for my freedom, and every day I am fighting to get them what they need as quickly as I can. The older I get, the wiser I get, and realize what the fight is all about. God bless our troops, their families and the sacrifices they make every day for America.

Andrea Harlow

Marine Corps

Systems Command

My dream job was the one I had since grad school, for almost 20 years, as a scientist at a national laboratory working on hard problems that matter, like national security. Seeking more challenge, I came to Washington on an assignment, and ended up liking this area.

Since I could not be “on assignment” forever, I quit my dream job and took a job with the government. This government job is definitely not my dream job. It pays less in the grand scheme of things, has less benefit, and at times it makes me feel like an over-educated paper-pusher.

On the other hand, it has gradually grown into a different sort of challenge, one that I didn’t expect, but is getting more and more interesting every day. On good days, I think it has the potential of becoming a dream job when I look back 20 years from now. On bad days I want to vote them all out, every one of the 535 members of Congress.

Karen Pao

Energy Department

Absolutely. Prior to (reluctantly) joining the federal government, I worked in the private sector. I did not see much difference, except in federal government we spend taxpayers’ money. That said, I got more opportunities in federal government than in private sector. I am proud to say that I made a big difference in a positive way.

Nuru Parkar

Census Bureau

I didn’t really have a dream job in mind when I graduated. I went into public service because the Army offered me a job and I was very proud of the fact that I was continuing a long family tradition of service to my community — my father, uncles and grandfather were all in the military; my grandfather became a doctor and my mom was a teacher.

I never envisioned the level of enmity that the public, Congress and presidential candidates have for public servants. I never thought that I would be hated so much for serving my country or that being a federal employee not in law enforcement would be so deadly.

Employee

U.S. Army

I am now making a difference in ways that have a positive impact on millions of citizens. Even after 19 years, I still put on my badge every morning with pride and walk a little taller on my way to the office.

While federal employment may not be for everyone, for those who have a calling to public service and want to work hard and contribute to a solution, there is a way to accomplish that as a federal employee. I would never consider going back to the private sector where I would just feel like another employee number turning out widgets.

Lee Tilton

Interior Department

My father was a federal employee and I was proud to follow in his footsteps. I started out as a project manager in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps Program. I fell in love with the program as I watched young people who took advantage of the benefits of the program completely turn their lives around.

I haven’t always worked in the most exciting positions, but I’ve taken advantage of training opportunities available to feds, and I’ve kept my eyes open for opportunities.

For the past three years, I have served in a detail, running the shared neutrals mediation program for the Seattle Federal Executive Board. The job is creative and challenging with tons of autonomy and room for personal and professional growth while also providing the stability of federal pay and benefits.

While this job is not the job I dreamed of having when I was fresh out of school, in some ways it is even better than that, because back then I really didn’t have enough experience to know what aspects of work I would enjoy and not enjoy.

I haven’t found a job that meets 100 percent of my needs, but this one is in the 90 percent range, and I feel lucky to have it.”

Tom Melancon

Seattle Federal

Executive Board

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