The Responsibilities and Challenges of City Government

image2This internship has been beneficial to my career interests because I experienced both the quantitative and personal skills that are required for a career in city government. During my 10 weeks at the Philadelphia Commerce Department’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), I have had to use both. The OEO keeps records of every contract the City awards. This includes the contractors, the amount they pledged to minority, women or disabled-owned businesses (MWDBSEs), the payment to each MWDBSE sub contractor, and whether the contractor is compliant or deficient with City regulations. In one aspect, I often work with the office’s database. I am responsible for updating records as new payments are made, organizing the data for meetings or presentations my bosses make, and assisting in preparing the data for the OEO’s annual report. The OEO also deals personally with many MWDBSE business owners and other organizations that support them. My internship also requires me to interact with these people. My supervisor took me to several meetings where we discussed new strategies to promote MWDBSE business ownership with these people and organizations.

The biggest learning moment came when I assisted in preparation for a presentation the
Commerce Director was making. I was asked to find statistics about how MWDBSE ownership in the City and metro area had changed between two economic censuses. I found, coimage1.JPGmpiled, and organized the data before sending it to the Commerce Chief of Staff for review. My work came under review by several senior officials in the department, and I was unprepared for the amount of reworking and editing they wanted me to undertake. Their comments ranged from confusion about some of the variables I used, formatting that needed to be different, and even an error I missed. This was such a valuable learning experience because it thrust me right into the center of important department activity. This was not like a first draft of an essay, which I could rework and improve. The top official in the department was relying on my work, and his staff expected my work to be at the highest level. It was an eye opening experience, and one that will ensure my work is of the necessary caliber.

My career goals have largely remained the same, despite the fact that I have gained great experience during the summer. City government remains a job I would consider after graduation, but I am unsure if it is one for which I envision making a career. I feel that I have a greater understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of working in city government. The question remains for what amount of time I envision myself participating.

Written by Patrick Roehm, BC Class of 2017

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