Students tend to overlook careers in government, unaware of the unique benefits and opportunities available. We are kicking off the domestic highlights of our Ducks Around the World series with alumna Heather Ketten, who has an impressive career in government. We caught up with Heather to ask for her insight and advice for students exploring similar career paths.
Name: Heather Ketten
Graduation Year: 2016
Major: BS, geography (geographic information systems focus)
Current Job: Senior geospatial analyst for the City of Austin, Texas
What is one thing you learned or experienced during your time at the UO that is helping you be successful on your global career journey?
During my time at the UO, I was fortunate to work doing GIS at Campus Operations and the InfoGraphics Lab. Being able to work on bigger, real projects gave me so much more experience and familiarity with GIS. Between that and the lab courses for my degree, I learned so much. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t keeping up or that I couldn’t remember it all. I was able to put a portfolio together that I’m still proud of years later. But it wasn’t really until I got my current job that I realized how much I knew and how well I’d been taught.
What words of advice do you have for students who want to live, work, or study around the world?
Don’t be too afraid of other places—but no place is perfect, either. There are people everywhere who can relate to both your struggles and your hopes and dreams. There are good and bad people everywhere, and somehow we all make it work. Not every place will be for you, and it’s OK to change your mind. Go do things you love, and you’ll find your people anywhere.
What is one thing you wish someone would have told you before you graduated about the world of work, job searching, or career paths?
Government jobs are amazing. My current job with the City of Austin has great insurance. I was finally able to get the care I needed for my multiple chronic illnesses and I feel better than I have in years. They also still have pensions! The take-home salary isn’t as high as corporate jobs, but the feel is much more focused on quality over speed, and caring over profit. People tend to stay longer in government jobs, so you can really get to know your coworkers and see the effects of your work in the long term. Plus, Public Student Loan Forgiveness! I’m never going back to the corporate world if I can help it.