The emphasis of public policy and administration is put on the implementation of policies developed by the government and analysis of the resultant outcomes on the citizenry. When perceived as an academic discipline, public policy and administration are involved in studying the implementation of government policies and preparing an individual to take up a career in the civil service (Jeong, Hai & Nor, 2007). In practice, public policy and administration have the main objective of advancing policies and public management with the objective of helping the government execute its functions. Simply stated, public policy and administration play a pivotal role in advancing the new ways that can help the government agencies enhance their service delivery (Perry, 1989). For example, public administrators may be given the responsibility to oversee the distribution of public resources, design and implement policies. According to Menzel & White (2011), the key to success in public policy and administration career is to embark on improving the lives of public in every aspect. There is no doubt that every person as well as the society as a whole benefit from the initiatives aimed at improving their lives. Even the person performing the initiative benefits from personal satisfaction associated with giving back to the society and social responsibility. In line with this, I have been working at the Children of the Night, which is a privately funded not- profit organization founded in 1979 with a mission to secure American children from the negative effects of prostitution. In my position, I had the responsibilities of visiting detention facilities, family courts, interviewing children, general clerical and compiling data from visits for reports (research assistant).
The first benefit of my work at the Children of the Night is that it helped to improve the research skills. At the position of a research assistant, I had the responsibilities of conducting interviews during the visits and compiling data for the reports associated with the respective visits. Research methods and statistics are a vital course in Master of Public Administration, which enables public administrators to effectively analyze the information. As Menzel & White (2011) explain, knowing how to undertake the research is a vital skill needed for all managers and public administrators working in not-for-profit and public organizations. The research entails the collection, processing, analysis and interpretation of data and conveying the results of the analysis in a report describing the discovery from the study. Students majoring in public administration are supposed to take at least one course in research methodology to complete their thesis. At the position of a research assistant at the Children of the Night, there is no doubt that I was able to improve my skills in a number of research aspects such as conducting interviews and data compilation. Public administrators are regularly involved in writing research reports for non-profit and public organizations. In this regard, my volunteering as a research assistant will aid in developing and enhancing communication and critical analysis skills. People working in government agencies and nonprofit organizations have recognized communication and critical analysis skills as the most vital characteristics of successful managers and leaders (Menzel & White, 2011). In the same light, students who are able to collect pertinent information, examine and interpret data and effectively report their findings to others poised for success in a civil service career. Overall, I can assert that my volunteer position as a research assistant at the Children of the Night helped to develop my research skills, and improve the communication and critical analysis skills, which are essential for success in public administration, both as an academic discipline and in practice.
The second benefit of my volunteering work at the Children of the Night to my major in public administration is that it helped to increase my sensitivity to the interests and values of others, which is vital for success in public policy and administration. Essentially, my volunteering work at the Children of the Night taught me how to channel my attention on others rather than my personal interests. According to Menzel & White (2011), students majoring in public policy and administration who have the ability to master the skill of self-sacrifice and hard work are poised to be successful in the public service. At the Children of the Night, I was part of a team involved in saving American children from the devastating impacts of prostitution, whereby child prostitutes are treated as victims rather than criminals. At the organization I was involved in humanitarian work, which is somewhat related to self-sacrifice. In addition, my work at the Children of the Night was somewhat tedious (5 hours per day volunteering work in visiting detentions, conducting interviews and visiting family courts among others). It implies that the volunteering at the organization needed self-sacrifice and hard work, which are important personality traits for successful public policy administrators. During my volunteering work, I realized the significance of self-sacrifice when offering service to members of the public. Through volunteering, I had to redirect my attention to the needs of American children who became victims of prostitution, rather than focusing on my own personal needs that is required for an effective public administrator.
When working with American children who have been victimized by prostitution, I was able to take on investigations into social issues, which involves the use of a number of skills to spot a problem, gather, store, manage and manipulate data. Through interviews and visitation to family courts, juvenile detention facilities, and compiling data from visits for reports, I was able to search and evaluate the interviews qualitatively and quantitatively in order to provide precise recommendations and conclusions. Menzel & White (2011) point out that it is the role of the public administrator to improve the lives of members. Therefore, I was provided with such an opportunity at the Children of the Night. Through interviews with the victimized children, I was able to explore and identify their needs and present precise recommendations in the reports. For instance, children who are prostitution victims are required to attend school in a safe environment. Moreover, their psychological and medical needs have to be met as well. Fundamentally, my volunteering work at the Children of the Night helped me develop problem solving skills using an organized and methodical approach, which entails identifying a social problem and coming up with potential solutions to address the problem. Major in public administration has the main objective of helping students acquire the needed knowledge as well as the critical thinking skills that are needed in public administration practice. Effective public administration practice requires an individual to be able to develop both long-term and short-term forecasts and plans, formulate and implement public policy, and effectively manage both programs and people (Perry, 1989). In this regard, my volunteering work at the Children of the Night prepared me for a career in public service through the exposure to numerous social and economic issues affecting the society.
According to Menzel & White (2011), an individual’s ability to interact productively with other people is a crucial trait for success in public policy and administration career. Verbal and nonverbal communication as well as team work are essential to effective public administration. Working as a public administrator requires one to become acquainted with the members of the public including their social and economic needs. To this end, an effective public administrator should be able to mingle with others in the practice, make pertinent connections, and develop mutual friendship with the citizenry. According to Menzel & White (2011), the inability to charm, express respect for others and inability to persuade are likely to make one become an ineffective public administrator. As a result, my tenure as a volunteer at the Children of the Night played a great deal in improving my persuasion skills, interpersonal skills, and how to develop mutual friendship with the public. Besides, my volunteering at the organization helped me acquire crucial skills regarding the ways to express respect to others. For instance, at the organization, we were working in teams with other research assistants from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. As a result, I was able to improve my interpersonal and cross cultural-communication skills, which are the core to success in public administration practice. Through visiting juvenile detention facilities, family courts and conducting interviews with children, I was able to improve my interpersonal and communication skills as well as my ability to interact productively with other people. In addition, I collaborated with other research assistants, which helped in improving my ability to work in teams towards a common objective. Essentially, my volunteering work at the Children of the Night helped in enhancing my human skills. Perry (1989) asserts that cooperative human action is the essence of public administration in the sense that an effective public administrator must have the human skills needed to integrate people into several types of cooperative initiatives. Some of the human skills developed during the volunteer tenure at the organization include awareness of the self, how one’s actions impact others, sensitivity for and orientation towards others, acknowledgement of one’s responsibility towards others as well as realness when relating to others.
Another potential benefit of my volunteering work at the Children of the Night is that it helped in strengthening my ethical principles, emphasis on results as well as the moral impact of decisions and actions. Jeong, Hai & Nor (2007) point out that ethics is the most fundamental principle in public administration because public administrators are perceived as the society’s steward. Ethics entails moral justifications and considerations for actions and decisions undertaken when executing daily responsibilities. In public administration, Menzel & White (2011) assert that it is an accountability standard, in the sense that the public can scrutinize the work of a public administrator using the ethicalness of his/her actions and decisions. Moreover, decisions and actions should be undertaken based on ethical principles deemed to correct the public; this allows public administrator’s actions to be guided by their internal ethical principles and also question their ethical principles with respect to public scrutiny. Regardless of the ambiguities associated with public administration, effective public administrators should also emphasize on the results of their actions. Since they are the stewards for scarce communal resources, public administrators have the obligation to accomplish the results. My volunteering work at the organization provides me with an opportunity to recognize the significance of ethical use of office and results oriented public administration. The aim of the organization was to improve the lives of children who have been victims of prostitution; as a result, the organization placed more emphasis on the outcomes. We worked closely with the law enforcement to help rescue children from the rings of prostitution, and provide college placement for such youngsters.
My volunteering work at the Children of the Night also helped to improve the capacity to work in complex and diffuse networks. As Perry (1989) explains, effective public administrators ought to demonstrate the capability to work within complex and diffuse networks. For instance, public administrators have to establish cooperative linkages with their peers, constituents, competitors, politicians and subordinates in order to collect pertinent information. At the Children of the Night, I was able to make linkages with other volunteering students, psychiatrists, physicians, lawyers and others professionals including law enforcement personnel. Learning to establish cooperative linkages is vital for success in a public service career.
In conclusion, my volunteering tenure at the Children of the Night had several benefits to my major in public administration. Primarily, volunteering work helps both the society (through cost free assistance) and students (through skills acquisition that may be helpful during the practice). Some of the benefits of my volunteering tenure at the organization towards my major in public policy and administration include the following: it helped me improve my research skills; helped increase my sensitivity to the interests and values of others, which is vital for success in public policy and administration; I was able to search and evaluate qualitative and quantitative interviews in order to provide precise recommendations and conclusions; helped me acquire crucial skills regarding the ways to express respect to others; helped in improving my ability to work in teams towards achieving a common objective; helped me improve my human skills; helped in strengthening my ethical principles, emphasis on results as well as the moral impact of decisions and actions; and helped me improve the capacity to work in complex and diffuse networks. All these traits and skills are crucial for implementing effective public policy and building administration career.