ELGL meet Ben Kittelson, Portland State MPA student and new ELGL project assistant. Ben is part of ELGL’s continuing effort to offer real work experience for those considering a career in local government. We feel this is one of the most important contributions that ELGL can make to the future of government, and the opportunity can be made even better through your support and interaction with Ben and others who will be added to the ELGL staff.
What should you know about Ben? For his senior thesis, Kittelson took an in-depth look at our federal housing programs and pointed out some real problems with where most of the money really goes. He graduated from Willamette University (with a double major in Economics and Politics), he is interested in government, he has a Twitter account (@benkittelson56) and he is the offensive line coach at Aloha High School. So next time an ELGL function gets rowdy, Ben will be there to calm down the rowdy bureaucrats.
Education: Portland State University, Master of Public Administration (MPA), Local Government, 1st Year and Willamette University, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Economics, Politics
Experience: Intern, Office of the Mayor, Visioning Department, City of Beaverton and Vice President, Associated Students of Willamette University
Now that we’ve told you about Ben, he will attempt to better our introduction.
As I approached my senior year of college at Willamette University I did not have an answer for that often-repeated question, “What are you going to do when you graduate?” That question strikes fear in the heart of many college students and I was no different. I knew that I wanted to use my politics degree by working in government, but I was unsure of how. I saw myself working to help people and improve communities, but running for office or working for an elected official seemed like a poor way to do that. As I thought about it more and found that there is so much more to the public sector than running for office, I set my sights on state and local government. I decided working in local government would be ideal for me, a level big enough to make a difference but small enough to where you can see the improvements made to the community.
The next step of how to get started in the profession had me stumped. I figured that graduate school would be a good answer and started to look at programs. I applied to the MPA program at Portland State University unsure of what to expect and thinking it would at least be a good way to avoid the real world for another two years. The program has been great for me; the professors are engaging and have real world experiences that make the material we’re learning far more interesting. My fellow students are also passionate about the public sector and many have years of experience working in the field.
I entered the program unsure and a little wary, and I now know that the MPA program and working in local government is the perfect fit for me. I am passionate about the work and truly interested in the intricacies of public sector work. I have also discovered how little I know about the sheer number of local governments and the myriad of opportunities that are available. The State of Oregon alone has 1,509 local government bodies, 1,232 of which are special districts (US Census, 2012). There are 241 city governments and 36 counties to round out the total (US Census, 2012). This makes it hard to narrow down what type of government or department I want to work for. I have no idea how to choose when there are so many options to choose from. As I go through my Masters program I want to learn more about the different local governments and the type of work that is out there.
My posts for ELGL will be varied, I plan on sharing some of my experiences as a full time MPA student as well as my process conducting informational interviews with professionals in the field. I also want to explore local government and learn more about how the different municipalities, special districts, and counties work together to provide for the public. These intricacies are really interesting to me and important since governments and agencies have to work together in order to provide high quality service to citizens.
US Census Bureau, 2012 Census of Governments: Organization Component Preliminary Estimates. http://www2.census.gov/govs/cog/2012/formatted_prelim_counts_23jul2012_2.pdf
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- Honor code created for the students by the students