Working for Change: Making a Career in International Public Service

By Derick W. Brinkerhoff; Jennifer M. Brinkerhoff | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 1
Introduction

Our increasing recognition of interdependence in a globalized world challenges us to think more broadly about both the context and the options available for service-oriented careers. People of all ages are exploring new, creative pathways to service and civic engagement, not always acknowledged or counted among researchers and practitioners of traditional voluntary efforts and service professions. The creation of the World Social Forum, the increases in Peace Corps enrollment, and the popularity of Americorps are testament that not only do people want to serve; they also want to be empowered to lead change for the better, both at home and abroad. However, few guideposts exist to mark the paths and opportunities for careers in service. The purpose of this book is to introduce the field of international development management and to explore potential career paths in international public service— whether these are based overseas or here at home, whether they involve working for change from outside systems, from the inside, or some combination. We define public service as service in the interest of others. It encompasses work in all three sectors: government, nonprofit, and business, depending on one's particular role. Public, in this sense, refers to an action arena where the benefits derived serve to contribute to widely distributed social goods, as opposed to private individual gain.

Psychology tells us that we make rational sense of our careers after the fact; looking backwards, it all seems to be part of a grand plan. While that may be true in some cases, the image of career planning as a set-the-goal, plot-the-steps process misses both the reality and the richness of the what, where, and how of people's career choices. There are many paths to careers in international public service. Some of us are inspired to reach out into the world, engage, and, when we perceive deprivation, injustice, or inequity, look for ways to work for a better global community. Others come to international public service in a more incremental way, perhaps through the accumulation of particular

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