Sam Goertz is a first-year student at the University of Alberta majoring in Political Science.
This summer I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for my favourite politician, City Councillor Michael Walters. I got to work full-time as his Summer Communications and Research Assistant at City Hall. Going in, I already loved Municipal politics, but through my experience, I gained an even deeper appreciation for our Council and moreover a deeper appreciation for Government.
I learned of the scope of what Council and the City take care of is far deeper than I could have imagined. There are people who work to make nearly everything you observe in the City as good as it can possibly be. I also learned that to be successful politically, one needs to be a "consensus builder." Prior to working in government I thought that "consensus builder" was the world's most mundane phrase, wildly overused and meaning little. However, from meetings with constituents and communicating with Administration to establishing strong relationships with other members of Council, "consensus" truly is vital.
I also discovered the less glamorous side of politics, in fact, the majority of it is not glamorous. The amount of time and sweat that is put in by politicians to make their community better is astounding, from reading 300 pages reports on Utility updates, to carefully crafting motions and inquiries in order to spark a positive policy change.
I learned how imperative it is to strike a healthy work-life balance. Thankfully, I got to work for the model Politician in all of these areas. Councillor Walters taught me that no matter what the issues at play are, our loved ones are what make life worth living, and we need to honour that. Working at City Hall was a dream come true for me, and I hope to be back in the Council hallways one day, in whatever capacity.
Additionally, I have the privilege of being the President of Greenfield Community League. It has been enormously fulfilling and has taught me that there is so much richness to be found in communities, regardless of if you have just moved there or have been there for 44 years.
This job has never felt like volunteer work, and I'm so thankful for that. Community League's allow for people to establish strong relationships with the people around them and to flex their creative muscles in making a strong community. The value of community can hardly be overstated in its importance for happiness and fulfillment in life, and regardless of if you know the people in your community or not, or if they're even the same demographic as you, you can always make friends, and establish connections.
Being able to do this work, with the incredible support and respect of people (some of whom with kids older than me) has enriched my life immensely, and it's served to reinforce my love and faith in humankind. Local politics can take many shapes and sizes, and if you look for it, there is an opportunity almost anywhere for you to make a difference.