When most people think of local government, Pawnee, Indiana is the first image that comes to mind (seriously, who doesn’t love a good episode of Parks and Recreation). You may be surprised to learn that local government work involves a lot less hijinks. During my four and a half years working for Mecklenburg County, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with scores of talented people on issues that really matter to me and my neighbors.

Sure, in college I thought my career would take me across the country for a glamorous public relations job. But, I’m proud of the work I’ve done in my role as a public information officer. Here are just a few reasons why I chose a career with Mecklenburg County.

1. You learn how stuff really works.

Who makes sure your Friday night pizza is prepared in a clean and safe environment? Who recycles your Christmas tree after the excitement of the holidays has passed? Who do you think keeps all of the parks your children play in clean, safe and full of interesting things to do? Health inspectors, environmental specialists, certified park and recreation professionals – all County employees.

Working for the County has afforded me the opportunity to learn how all of these things happen. Though I’ve only worked in one department (Public Information), my knowledge of the County’s inner workings is miles beyond that of an average resident. This helps me when I work on projects for the departments I serve and has an added bonus – I’ve become a great resource for friends and neighbors!

2. You invest in your community.

There are a lot of ways you can invest in your community as a resident, but working for the County means investing in your community five days a week (or more)!

One of my favorite personal experiences comes from our latest back to school “Big Shots Saturdays” immunization clinics. Over the course of the three Saturday clinics and two exclusion clinics, Public Health served more than 2,000 children and were able to connect many local families to resources to help meet their needs and improve their health. No, I wasn’t giving immunizations or assessing health needs of clients, but I DID get to be a part of the planning process and promote the work (and success!) of Public Health staff.

3. The benefits are generous.

County Manager Dena Diorio says it all the time: “employees are our most valuable asset.” As I see it, the benefits I get as an employee confirm the organization’s commitment to investing in me.

County employees participate in a Camp Wellness event.

County employees participate in a “Camp Wellness” event.

When it comes to health, we’ve got your standard medical, dental, and vision insurance options, but there’s also a wellness incentive that helps you lower your medical premiums. There’s even access to FREE health coaching, support for tobacco cessation, County fitness centers and more.

I know what you’re thinking – what about time off? Between paid holidays, sick days, and vacation time (which you accrue based on your years of service), leadership understands that you have a personal life outside of work.

New benefits are added all the time! Just this year, we’ve been offered paid family leave for the birth, adoption or fostering of a new child, or to help care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition (effective in 2018).

4. You get to see the results of your work.

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the hard work you’ve put in amount to something positive for the community. Here’s just one example:

Nine years ago, the Panthers Tailgate Recycling Program was created to divert waste created during each Panthers home game away from landfills and educate residents/visitors about recycling. The County partnered with parking lot owners to handout special trash bags to tailgating customers, as well as with the City of Charlotte’s Solid Waste to collect the bags for recycling. We also recruited volunteers to encourage the crowds and monitor collection, and Bojangles even jumped into the mix to throw in gift cards for tailgaters who are seen recycling right! Put it all together and you’ve got a winning program that diverts close to 80 tons of trash from the landfill each season.

5. The diversity of jobs and the great people hired to do them.

Mecklenburg County employees pose for a picture during Employee Fest.

Public Information employees at Employee Fest 2017.

No matter what your particular skill set happens to be, there is an excellent chance you can put it to use in a job with the County. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the most interesting, engaging, and passionate individuals since I came to work at the County. Through my involvement with groups like North Carolina City and County Communicators and the National Association of County Information Officers, I’ve also met a slew of creative and innovative people who really care about the mission of local government.

See why I love it here? Working for the County truly gives me a chance to turn my local pride into tangible changes that benefit the residents who live here (plus I get a few good stories along the way 😉). If you’re making a career move soon, keep an eye on the positions we have available.