Working for Change: Making a Career in International Public Service

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

CHAPTER 3
The Service-choice Spiral

Now you can begin to grasp the complexity of what it is you need to do once you become a development manager. But how do you become one? How can you begin this career path for international public service? To answer this question, we developed what we call the servicechoice spiral, illustrated in Figure 1. As with any schematic framework, this simplifies the much messier reality of people's public service careers; but we find it helps to capture the notion that a career path is more than a linear progression of one job choice after another. We see career development as a spiral, not a ladder, because moving through the steps leads to new combinations of the various components, rather than simply transferring existing competencies to different situations in a linear way. The cone shape of the spiral illustrates the enhanced depth and breadth you achieve as you accumulate experience, build skills, and grow in your understanding of yourself and others, expanding your career options along with your personal growth. The cone shape also conveys another important element of our conception of career development: although you can think of your career as following some sort of path, there is not an ultimate “destination.” Unlike a ladder, there is no “top.” The value and satisfaction in your public service career will come from the accumulation of your skills and experience, their application to important problems, your expanded understanding and growth, and the doors to new opportunities that may open as a result.

So, what are the signposts, or components, along the career path of a development manager? The service-choice spiral 1) begins with selfawareness (values and skills), 2) continues with finding meaning in community and dialogue as 3) you acquire skills and knowledge (the tools and process dimensions of development management), and 4) leads to decisions about where to work, including the relative emphasis of working for internal organization change and/or advocating for broader systems change. As you progress along the spiral, the four steps are mutually

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