Response to  "How's the New Job?"

by Jessica Seibert,  Aitkin County Administrator
Published in the Aitkin Age, March 9, 2018

One year ago this week, I began my position with Aitkin County as the new county administrator. I know it sounds cliche, but it seems like yesterday that I sat down at my desk for the first time. I remember visiting each department to meet staff members and learn about initiatives that were being worked on. It was nice to see so many familiar faces and everyone was very welcoming. I was eager to start contributing to the organization and felt a sense of relief when the first department head stopped by my office to discuss an issue and possible solutions.

There have been two popular questions that friends, family and community members have asked me over the last year. First, “How do you like your new job?” and, second, “Is it what you expected?” I always answer, “It’s going great!” and, “Yes, for the most part.”

The job of a county administrator is that of a true generalist. You have to know enough about a wide variety of topics to collaborate with subject matter experts, provide direction and offer informed     recommendations. You have to develop a certain level of comfort knowing that you can’t possibly know it all and need to rely on the experts around you. In one day, I might hold a budget committee meeting, work through a personnel issue, respond to 30 emails, visit with a construction manager and that probably all happens before lunch! This is one of my favorite aspects of the job. There is never a dull moment.

Another wonderful part of my job is the opportunity to work with people who are creative, intelligent and as passionate about Aitkin County as I am. From commissioners and department heads to staff and community members, I am surrounded by people that work hard to ensure that our county is a great place to live and visit. As a small, rural county, it’s remarkable to note that we have both state and nationally recognized employees continually looking for ways to provide needed services with limited resources.

Having worked in a government agency for the past 20 years, I’ve developed an understanding of the job requirements and skills necessary to be a successful county administrator. I studied public administration in graduate school and formed relationships with seasoned administrators to learn more about the position. The expectations of the position were not a surprise to me when I accepted the role.

So, why do I answer, “For the most part” when asked if my job is what I expected? I have learned in a short time that the position of county administrator is filled with surprises. No matter the amount of research put into an issue, there is always room for the unexpected question for response. Sometimes it’s a positive comment or creative idea we hadn’t considered. Other times, I find out I need to go back to the drawing board for another solution. Again, this is what makes my job exciting and fulfilling.

To all of you who have wished me well over the past year and taken a genuine interest in my career, I want to thank you. I am grateful for the opportunity to do the work I enjoy in the community I love!

Jessica Seibert is the Aitkin County administrator.

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