Working in the Public Sector: Expectations vs Reality
Written by Martina Jo Mallia
Everyone has experienced a period of job searching, whether to kickstart a career or to find the next exciting venture. It is no secret that when it comes to spotting which sector is going to give you the career you want, the ideal fit will depend mostly on your individual priorities and career aspirations. So, whilst pondering your career aspirations, had you considered applying for a job in the public sector?
If your experience resonates with mine, and chose to dive into the private sector, you might have your reservations on the subject at hand. I had my own misconceptions when I came to decide on whether to plunge headfirst into the public sector or otherwise. But the reality of my experience was quite different.
The first major misconception to be debunked from my end was related to MITA’s demographics and perceptions. Upon entering the offices for the first time, I soon came to realise that the environment was quite cheerful, accompanied by a sense of welcome. MITA’s workforce buzzes with young high-spirited and curious people who carry with them an abundance of infectious positive energy.
After a short while, I came to realise that what drives MITA is the sense of duty and commitment its employees have towards our community. The energy I spoke about earlier is derived from the real impact that these people make on our citizens and businesses alike. So, being part of the public sector is closer to a vocation, suited for people who are motivated to make positive changes to benefit those around them.
Another misconception surrounding the public sector revolves around the nature and complexity of the work. With the several recruitment platforms and headhunters chasing you every day, no one highlighted the fact that you can boost and decorate your resume whilst working in the public sector. Roles at MITA, although somewhat prescribed, are fluid and enriching to the extent that where learning goes, the sky is the limit. The agency spans many different sectors from financial to health to justice; delivering complex IT and business solutions, whose scope is more varied from what you would see in the private sector. The exposure that one can garner here; if sought, is limitless.
The corporate culture at my previous job emphasised having fun as much as it focused on working hard. It is a culture that grows on you and I was not ready to give it up. In this day and age cultural fit is just as important as having the necessary qualifications for a role. Luckily, I found a similar experience at MITA. Of course, the pandemic brought about its limitations, but I cannot wait to experience all the events that my colleagues rave about.
A particular aspect that took me by surprise, and I am particularly fond of, is MITA’s consideration when it comes to employees’ mental wellbeing. I did not expect to find incentives such as being able to meet with a psychologist at the office during working hours. Alongside this there are also numerous benefits to help gain a healthy work-life balance. In particular, an incentive known as ‘flexi week’ is currently being piloted. The aim is to achieve the all-important work-life balance and thus giving employees flexibility of splitting their weekly working hours over 6 days as they require. For some employees this might mean preserving shorter working hours which can translate to a better return on hourly investment.
I personally think that the most common misconception surrounding the public sector is that it tends to be outdated and slow-paced. This could not be further from the truth. My experience at MITA has showed me that it is quite a modern and inviting workplace and most people are similarly open-minded too. It is a place that allows you to grow both personally and professionally, at the pace you desire.
And then there’s training. The best aspect that I have experienced so far is the commitment that the Agency has towards realising my potential through the myriad of training programmes. Employees are highly encouraged to enhance their skill set and progress in their profession. The tolerance towards offering space and time to allow for mistakes and find your abilities, is unparalleled. I can honestly say that my experience so far is shaping me into the professional that I am aspiring to, and I am eager to keep on learning.
If you are pondering on your next career trajectory or whether you should venture into the public sector, I could not recommend this enough. Stop overthinking it and jump on board this exciting and insightful work experience!