What Does the Transition Mean for Millennial Feds?
As President of Young Government Leaders (YGL), I talk to young Feds from across the government. Since the election, they want to know if they should stay in government or if the agency they work for will even continue to exist.
One of the aspects of our democracy is the peaceful transition of power, and for people in their first eight years of service, this will be the first transition during their career. This election seemed to carry strong emotions for everyone and those emotions haven't disappeared. My answer to these questions isn’t about politics; it's about us as the federal workforce representing a community and about the future of civic engagement.
We are at a pivotal moment for our generation, our government, and the future of civic engagement. We can decide to come together, work towards a common goal, and continue to fight for what we believe in or we can choose indifference. The choices we make now and over the next four years will define us as individuals and will shape our nation. We're public servants and we should always remember why we joined government: to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. Our work helps feed those who can’t afford their family's dinner, offers shelter during tough times, provides protection so people can sleep well at night, and develops cures to deadly diseases. Regardless of who is in office, those fundamentals will not change. Government and its agencies were developed to be evergreen. Administrations may change how agencies accomplish their missions, but those missions are bigger than an individual or one election.
With that said, now is the time for all Feds to see themselves as a community and help each other get the job done. That may require an open mind to new ideas being brought in by a new administration or it may require our single-minded dedication to protecting the mission which brought us here. Resilience is vital because the career we’ve chosen as public servants is not easy. As John F. Kennedy said, "we do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard." We do them because we feel the moral obligation to support others in our own neighborhoods.
Government provides us with the opportunity for a meaningful career and a life of civic engagement. As such, many young people these days enter civil service with strong desires to have an impact and improve the lives of the people around them. And it doesn’t stop with their jobs. We have YGL members who tutor refugees, work at soup kitchens, volunteer at churches, and mentor the generation coming up after us.
In a time where the country seems strongly divided, it is important to remember that engagement ought to continue even if someone else disagrees with us because government will always need smart people with new ideas trying to impact and improve citizens’ lives. We need an engaged generation that wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves and believes that what they do matters.
When I talk to worried young Feds, I say that all of us in the federal workforce, regardless of age, can be change agents. We can show passion about public service at a time when government needs it more than ever. We can be the role models for our fellow Feds and our fellow citizens.
Government will continue to require strong, smart, and dedicated people to succeed. The mission will not end if we leave, but in our absence, progress will slow, distrust will continue to grow, and divides will deepen. As a federal community, now is the time to come together to learn from and support each other so that we can build the path forward. We hope you join us.
Written by Miguel Aviles, President of Young Government Leaders, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, inspire, and transform current and future government leaders. Miguel is an advocate of Millennials, volunteering as the President of Young Government Leaders. He has spent a decade as a Recruitment & Outreach Strategist at the US Federal Government.
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