The unexpected path sometimes leads to the greatest of experiences. Seven years ago, as I prepared myself for the last two semesters of my bachelor’s program my path felt certain. I had fallen in love with finance and knew I had the potential to become a successful financial advisor. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to find myself working in local government, let alone as a City Recorder.
My twenty-two-year-old self would have scoffed at that profession but only because I had no idea it existed; I most certainly would never have assumed it has so many responsibilities. Still, though, I found myself on the unexpected path to becoming a City Recorder. After briefly trying to find my place in the financial world I turned to local government. As shocking as it might have seemed for some, the transition was easy, and, the hook for me was surprisingly accounting.
I still remember the day I first showed Lynden our personal budget. He laughed, not at the lack of money, but at my effort to create my spreadsheets. For some reason, it was clear to him, yet a mystery to me. As we drove down the road he simply looked at me and said, “Clearly this is what you enjoy. Why aren’t you looking for a job in doing just this?”
At first, I thought because no one is going to pay me to manage their personal accounts, at least not in our small community. Of course what Lynden really meant was to consider finding an accounting position. A few months later such a position opened up in the county clerk/auditor’s office. Although the job description included other responsibilities, I immediately applied.
Much to my surprise, I was successful in my interview and thus began my career in local government. After a year and a half of working as a deputy clerk/auditor, I decided to apply for a City Recorder position for a local municipality. Reading the job description first took me by surprise and was slightly overwhelming. Still, though, I took my chance and my appointment began in April of 2014.
Saying that my first few months as a City Recorder were challenging is an understatement. For the first time, I felt completely alone in my career. I had no idea where to turn for advice, and although I had not burned any bridges with my former supervisors at the County I needed to prove to myself I had made the right choice.
Most difficult tasks in life become easier with practice and this position was no exception. Still, though, the most important tool in navigating this position is the Utah Municipal Clerks Association (UMCA). This wonderful group of colleagues helped me to take pride in my position and realize I am not alone. Not only have I made friends through the organization, but I have come to enjoy attending training.
After three years as a City Recorder, I have received my CMC, or my Certified Municipal Clerk designation. Many of my friends and family were unaware of this and I have decided to explain why I never made a fuss over it. While challenging, the support I received from the UMCA, enabled me to achieve my CMC title. Each conference and academy I have attended are more like a brainstorming session and less like a never-ending lecture. What I am saying is, without the UMCA my successes in this career would never have or never will exist. My failures in this career have been useful antidotes among other Recorders and Clerks. This organization feels like an extended family where everyone supports one another.
The requirements of becoming a CMC seemed daunting at first. I remember one City Recorder describing the annual Institute and Academy as head spinning. All CMC applicants need 60 credits in Education and 50 credits in Experience, for an approximate total of 240 hours spent in training. Of course, as I explained above while daunting, the process is achievable thanks to the UMCA. Each course I attended has been educational by providing new insight into this position or to my life.
Our organization is comprised of Clerks and Recorders from communities of all sizes, and our responsibilities differ significantly. Covering a broad range of responsibilities is challenging and still, I feel that adequate education is provided. Unlike a City Recorder of a larger community, my responsibilities include minute taking for City Council and Planning and Zoning; handling of municipal elections; and the maintaining of city records, employee files, and the City’s finances.
Want to know a (not so) secret? My favorite job responsibility is maintaining the City’s financial records. Just like every job, there are downsides which include high stress, limited funding to meet community expectations, and disgruntled residents. My favorite moments usually follow dealing with a disgruntled resident because shortly afterward someone kind will come into the office to remind me that there is an appreciation for my public service.
During the upcoming years, I plan to obtain my Master Municipal Clerk (MMC) designation, but it is also my goal to become a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM). Ultimately I am grateful to have found a career in local government that allows me to serve my community, while spending time doing what I love, maintaining financial records.