Encroaching Dictatorship... Students Line Up for Only Jobs Available... Work for the Government... Just as Obama Planned

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 9:00pm.

The lines for the CIA were out the door at the spring career fair last week at George Mason University in Fairfax, and the Environmental Protection Agency and various Defense Department booths were doing booming business as well.

Two months after President Obama took office vowing to make federal service cool again, career services specialists report an increase among college students who want to work for the government.

"Lots and lots of students lined up for the federal government," said Alan C. More, employer in residence for U.S. government programs at GMU

"What we've seen across the board is an increased interest in government," said Tim McManus, vice president for education and outreach at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. "We're hearing from schools that they see government as an employer of choice. Government has been the afterthought option. It's no longer a second choice."

Amid the economic hard times, many students are as motivated by the desire for a steady job as by public service.

Christina Lee, a 25-year-old senior and English major at GMU, spoke to a CIA recruiter at the fair and was so intrigued by what she heard that over the weekend she submitted her résumé for a position as an intelligence analyst for the agency.

Lee said the troubled economy "definitely" contributes to her interest in the federal government. "With so many people having trouble finding jobs and keeping jobs, I'd like to know that when I get a job, it's secure," she said.

The government lacks hard data to measure how much progress it is making in attracting college-age applicants. The Office of Personnel Management does not track the number of college students or recent graduates who apply for federal jobs, said Michael Orenstein, a spokesman for the OPM.

Spokesmen for several federal agencies contacted also said they lack such data. "There's no tracking mechanism to distinguish whether the applicants are college students or college graduates," said Bill Adams, a spokesman for the Transportation Department.

But Orenstein said various indicators point to growing interest in federal service among college and graduate students. "It's probably a combination of everything — the economy, greater attention to serving one's country, the Obama administration's appeal to younger individuals," he said.

Orenstein noted that there were more than 5,000 applicants for the Presidential Management Fellows program this year, the most in its history and a 40 percent increase over last year.

"The fact that we had a record number of applicants indicates we are communicating with graduate students and undergraduates about opportunities with the federal government, and probably correlates with additional interest in the federal government," he said.

An annual survey of undergraduates by the Partnership for Public Service and Universum USA released in January found that government and public service was the most popular of 46 career options for American undergrads, with 17 percent naming it their top choice.

GMU has held four workshops this year on how to find a job with the federal government. "Attendance has been very high," said Janice Sutera, career services director at the university. "We planned these because we could see the interest building."

"I've really seen an uptick since the summer," said More, who spent 32 years with the CIA before joining GMU in 2005. "Many young people are very enthused by Obama. There's a lot more interest — not in making money, but in doing something meaningful."

A second attraction, More said, is that students are more interested in "finding a balance between work and family life" and find government day care and annual leave benefits attractive.

McManus, with the Partnership for Public Service, said the increased student interest has been evident "most dramatically in the last nine-month period" and is attributable to the economy and the recent presidential election, during which Obama and Republican nominee John McCain "put the focus on serving the country."

Matt Hartburg, 21, a government and international relations major at GMU who is interested in working for a federal agency in the field of national security, said he has been encouraged by the emphasis placed by Obama and other politicians on public service.

"When they were talking about how they need younger people to step up and work for the government, that's good to hear," he said. "I feel like I'm graduating at the right time."

Stephanie Caccomo, 24, who began working as a paralegal at the Justice Department during her senior year at George Washington University, said she initially saw the federal government as a good place to gain some practical experience before entering law school. She said she thought, "How cool — you can work for the government and get money."

Nine months ago, she took a job as an outreach specialist for the Federal Communications Commission and now envisions a career in the federal government, attracted by the nature of the work and the stability the job offers in unstable times.

"I can't make the millions that you can earn in the private sector, but I'm contributing to my retirement," she said.

Steve Vogel - March 26, 2009 - source WashingtonPost

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 9:00pm.