Former United States Congressman Chet Edwards spoke on campus to students about careers in public service, internships and working in Washington, D.C on Tuesday. The Office of Career and Professional Development hosted the event.
After spending approximately 20 years in politics, Edwards said, he could tell students about the good, bad and ugly side of public service. He believes students should pursue a career that they truly enjoy and are passionate about.
“Choose a career, choose a job that you love doing,” Edwards said. “Something that you get up everyday wanting to do.”
Throughout Edwards’ career he has represented portions of North Texas, Central Texas and the Brazos Valley in Washington D.C. from 1990 to 2011. He has also served on the House of Budget and Appropriations Committee among various others.
Edwards said an important decision students will have to make once graduating college is deciding what kind of job they want.
“You are going to spend on average over 2,000 hours a year in this job,” Edwards said. “At the end of the day, do what you love doing.”
There are many jobs in public service and many of them are not in Washington D.C. or in the federal government, Edwards said. In addition, 15.7 percent of all the jobs in the United States are government jobs.
“There are many, many opportunities in the state and local level to jump in and be involved and make a difference,” Edwards said. “It’s a job you can feel good about at the end of the day.”
Edwards said there are going to be various openings within the federal government for people once many baby boomers decide to retire in the next five to 10 years, including several million jobs within the federal government sector.
“I know many of you want to use your skills and move up and climb a ladder,” Edwards said. “There are going to be countless opportunities for you to work in the federal government.”
Public service is a field students should look into if they are looking for a meaningful job and one in which they feel they have made a difference during their life Edwards said.
“I’ve always thought how sad it would be if your life was like a footprint in the sand that as soon as you walked by the next wave wipes that footprint away,” Edwards said. “I chose the federal government and public service because it was a way that perhaps I could impact a lot of lives and hopefully in a positive way.”
Midlothian sophomore Candace Woolverton said she decided to come to tonight’s event because she is considering working in a government field and wanted to see what her options are from someone who has worked in the field such as Edwards.
“It gave me a perspective from someone that has been in public service for many years and has been on the same process I’ve been through, going through undergrad and trying to figure out what you want to do with your life,” Woolverton said.
Dallas senior Robert Ochoa said he decided to come to tonight’s event because he knew Edwards has been influential to students on campus and he wanted to get insight into his experience.
“He was very encouraging in the way he presented his time in congress to us,” Ochoa said.
“He said don’t be afraid of failure and to use that as a stepping stone to move towards your next step in life and I think that was really impactful.”
If students want to get a taste of what public service is during their undergraduate career Edwards said students should look into the Baylor in Washington summer internship program, sponsored by Bob Bullock Professor of Public Policy & Administration James Curry.
Woolverton said also she learned more about what public service is and how everyone struggles with choosing a career once they graduate college.
“Even congressman Edwards wasn’t sure about his public service decision until later in his life,” Woolverton said.
Ochoa said tonight’s talk was helpful because it informed students about what public service is and it gave a different prospective from someone who has worked in the public sector for many years.
“Just getting a different prospective of life from someone who’s had so much experience in business, politics and just being a father as well,” Ochoa said.