OMG UPDATE: Question? Answer.

Updated on Sunday, March 2

#6017

QUESTION: I got an offer for a coop job for government. Is working for the government good or bad? Have anyone done that in the past?

20 comments

  1. I worked for a year in a federal department.
    It was ok.
    Don't expect anything to happen quickly. They all move at the speed of sand and if there is an election while you are there, be ready for all the projects to change or be dropped. It is highly bureaucratic and has lots of red tape. Pay is decent though, and I got a stupidly high number of sick days.
    Oh - and the most frustrating thing for me, is they used Lotus Notes, Lotus 123 and Word Perfect, etc instead of Microsoft. Those programs are not user friendly and I found it very tedious having to learn old programs.

    I also found the staff to be older and anti-social (we all ate at our desks, didn't talk to each other much except for office gossip). But that was just my office - it obviously may not be a reflection on government work as a whole.

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    1. Sands shift overnight. Unionized workers do not.

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  2. I worked in government too and I agree with everything 1 said. I don't remember having to use old programs though, I'm pretty sure my department used microsoft.

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  3. Slow, you have to ask for work, pay is decent, staff is older and might ask you for computer help, You get to sit down all day, in front of a computer which is nice.

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  4. Pay isn't that great, and it can be kind of slow. Especially if you're working when they have the budget reviews. But there's usually lots of coops, and you can take days off if you need to. They also have interesting talks you can go see even if they aren't really related to your job.

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  5. I hate government. It's where your career dreams go to die and you slowly become one of those lazy linear-thinker yes-men that you once despised.

    I think you should see for yourself though. It will be a learning experience regardless if you like it or not.

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  6. I've worked for the federal government and I am currently working for the provincial government. While I can see why some people feel negatively about it, I've really enjoyed my experiences, and plan to work for the government as a career. In my roles, I've been very busy, never bored, the work has been interesting, and all of the people are very friendly.

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    1. 5 here. I realize this might be anecdotal, therefore not generalizable to all government work, but here are my grievances...

      I worked for both provincial and federal governments and about 60% of the time I was either begging (in vain) for work or sitting there pretending to work and trying not to fall asleep, feeling guilty for wasting taxpayer dollars. FYI I got top-notch performance evals, so I'm not just bitter.

      So much of the bureaucracy is a complete waste of money and working there made me more of a libertarian. Why the hell do they need to employ so many admin staff, creating so much overlap in work? Why is a master's degree a hiring criterion (ramping up the pay grade, btw) if they just need people to plan meetings? What can possibly justify sending someone to a "protocols" training course for $6,000 or calling for an exec cab to transport some guests across the street for lunch?

      Also, I had so much pride in the work I produced, but as it went up the ladder it gets reworded so many times I can barely recognize it. You don't get to take ownership of your work because of petty politics; I understand why these steps may be necessary, but it's completely soul crushing. I also got publicly chastised for correcting public-facing documents that had spelling errors (I was asked to do so by another colleague, btw) "because they had already been approved" by the ADs. No apology, either. So there basically was no room for innovation or initiative.

      And there's a culture of worshipping higher ups that blows my mind. Why the hell can't we call the Deputy Minister by his first name? Why does everyone get all worked up when the Minister drops in for a visit?

      I frage from even thinking about it.

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    2. ... But you're right, the people are generally friendly (at least on the outside) and you get to go home at 5 without having to think about work until the next morning.

      If one day I no longer give a shit about my career ambitions I might just settle for a public sector job.

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    3. 6 here again. I think you're right, it is an individual experience and I guess it really depends which area you work for in the government. But honestly, I'm in the health sector and I've worked for Health Canada and Cancer Care Ontario. There has always been a ton of work to get done. I've felt like the work I've been doing is actually making a difference, because it never gets changed other than minor edits.

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  7. reject it unless you have no other alternatives or want to work in the government forever

    Private companies hate that shit and will look down on you

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  8. It depends what you are doing, but it is VERY SLOW. and in my mind most people there are in administrative capacity and old moms. just my experience from my first coop.

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  9. A government job is good for decent pay, never having to worry about anything and doing basically nothing. There are some decent jobs in government for experience but overall given the same position in the private sector, you'd be doing more work in what you want. Now, of course if you don't want to actually do work, take the government job!

    This is from a guy who worked at Service Canada and Bank of Canada.

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    1. Just to give my experience again, when I worked at Service Canada I was apart of a student team. Obviously, the student team was twice as large as it needed to be given the amount of work we got. There was times part of the group went to the mall(the mall was walking distance, very close) and hung around shopping or eating while on their work hours. Not to mention extra long breaks on their break time.

      At Bank of Canada, there was more work and it was more independent but it still had that atmosphere of everyone is just sitting around and waiting for the time to leave.

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  10. OP here, if they don't give you a lot of work, does that mean you can just slack off and do whatever you want in your office? Do they care much about what you do?

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    1. Yes, you can slack off, but try your best to take initiative despite the disincentives. You should be conscious of how you use public resources even if your organization isn't.
      And at least pretend to work (ex. open a PDF book on half the screen with a word document on the side, read online newspapers, RALBY - http://www.theibanker.com/an-effective-way-of-looking-busy-at-work/).
      They care somewhat about what you do, but they have reeeeeally low expectations.

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    2. When I worked for Health Canada I was constantly asking for work. It got to the point that my supervisor told I needed to learn how to look busy while playing solitaire (no one could see my computer screen). So you slack off at your desk, quietly. Don't expect to be socializing or wondering around the office.

      I was so bored I made it my job to reorganize their basement storage and catalog all their brochures and booklets...which I am sure was never used after I left.

      Now...when there was work to do, they expected it to be done quickly and to my supervisor's weird expectations. She was brutal.

      Got great reviews though!

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    3. I also worked at Health Canada. Apparently we worked in very different areas, because I was always extremely busy.

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    4. (I am 10b).
      I worked for HC in BC leading up and during the Olympics (and H1N1 crisis) in the HR department. I think Olympics messed up our work. Plus our department was just slow...I am sure if it were the science side or areas related to the Olympics, I would have had work.

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  11. This is my second co-op term in the government. If you are working for the provincial government it largely depends on the Ministry you will end up in. IN my first work term I DID absolutely nothing, the other co-ops and I just chilled. We went to the free courses they have available for employees and did random things. But the pay is pretty good.

    Now in my second term Im in another ministry and Im actually quite busy they are giving me work to do and it has to be done. But things are starting to slow down, people in the government work at slug speed. Something us co-ops can do in a couple of hours, the regular employees take days to do. They waste a lot of time talking, there are a lot of middleaged to senior people there. You try and make conversation with them but they are just not interested. Everyone eats lunch alone, unless you purposely invite yourself to lunch where you get weird stares, then gossip ensues.

    Sometimes I feel like the government employees need to take these PD courses that we take.
    tl:dr Pay is good , benefits are good.Culture is poor.

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