If I were bolder, my reply to the question “why do you want to work in public interest?” would be simply:
Because literally tilting at windmills pays even worse.
Let me explain. One of the (many) things I’ve been writing instead of posts here is a statement of interest on why I want to go into public service. I’m working for another government agency this summer, and before the government starts handing out funding to their interns, they want to know that I’m serious about serving the public interest.
Honestly, though, being forced to talk about myself in glowing terms and describe myself as selfless, kindhearted, and friend to all the animals of the jungle is difficult. I’m not of the shameless self-promotion vein. Heck, I’m not even of the humble self-promotion vein.
I understand where the people in charge of giving free money to poor law students are coming from, because they don’t want to accidentally hand out money to people whose career plans involve building death rays, or world domination. It’s public money, and it ought to go to foster the education of those dedicated to serving the public interest. I get that. Really, I get that.
But when I have children, I plan on making them write essays when they do something wrong, not when they want to do something right. Kids come home after curfew? Write me an essay on why you couldn’t make it home on time. Didn’t take out the garbage? Write me an essay on the biological processes that make the garbage so stinky when it sits around for a week. Borrowed my car, but got into a car accident? Write me an essay on Newtonian physics, and explain why you couldn’t stop in time.
I am the one topic I’ve never been really comfortable writing about. Looking at the above list, my children may avoid the same fate.