Millennials in the public sector: Why they’ll make all of us better

It really shouldn’t have, yet the 2008 presidential election took the political establishment by surprise. Among the many reasons for the shock was the unprecedented turnout of millennial voters to the polls, both in the primaries and the general election.

This really should not have been unexpected. Soon-to-be-president Barack Obama made a strategic appeal to the Millennial demographic. Many have since suggested that this groundswell of millennial supporters gave President Obama the boost he needed to rise from relative obscurity to the highest office in the country.

Since then, the political arena has been reeling from the energy, idealism, and occasional aggression from ardent millennial activists. Some negatively label this “slacktivism,” while others deem the millennials the most civic minded and politically independent generation since the Greatest Generation of World War II.

Now that nearly eight years have elapsed since that pivotal election, many Millennials have grown up, completed their education, and are keen to take influential positions in the public sector so they can bring about the change they wish to see.

What impact are these millennials having on the public sector? One thing is certain: their eventual takeover of the political system has begun.

They are group-oriented

The very individualism that some generations decry in Millennials is, in fact, the key to their collective spirit. The ability to recognize themselves as unique individuals allows them to accord the same respect to others, and that respect is key in fostering a productive group dynamic. Millennials have an uncanny ability to be cooperative without demanding conformity.

They are technologically savvy

This may seem like trite praise, but government officials are increasingly aware of their need for workers fluent in the use of technology and digital information. According to Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, “the government has increasingly fallen behind—not only in the technology it uses to serve the public but in the technology it uses to complete its own processes internally.” More Millennials are changing the public sector by creating and maintaining more efficient systems, as well as developing new ways of helping the public engage with their elected leaders.

A millennial at work.
Image via StartupStockPhotos on Pixabay.

They have a lot on the line

Millennials once were disparaged as having an attitude of entitlement. Nothing could be further from the truth. As America’s first generation since the creation of the Social Security Administration to be skeptical about its prospects for retirement, Millennials are all too aware that it is up to them to create a future worth living for. In the face of systemic problems like job insecurity, education debt, and climate change, Millennials are invested in creating a sustainable future that offers personal purpose and fair rewards for everyone.

With a bright future ahead, now is the time to get involved. Learn more about University of San Francisco’s online Master of Public Administration program.


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