It’s probably safe to say that most students at the College know at least one recent graduate who is struggling to find a job. With unemployment at 10.4 percent, we as college students are feeling the brunt of an economy gone south. As the private sector has begun scaling back its fresh hires, however, the public sector has been steadily expanding. According to the Partnership for Public Service, for the 2010-2012 period, the federal medical and public health sector alone is expected to see 54,114 new job openings, a 53 percent increase from the 2007-2009 period before it. In all, by the end of President Barack Obama’s term, the Partnership expects an overall increase of 600,000 job openings at the federal level.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to experience work at the federal level firsthand as an intern with the Office of International Affairs (OIA) at the U.S. Department of Justice. When foreign countries need international legal assistance from the United States government, they go through my office. Essentially, I was in charge of researching legal treaties, confirming the legality of requests from South American countries and helping attorneys put together extradition packets. I had a fantastic experience, and it really helped me understand the scope of a lot of the jobs available at the federal level. In fact, I had such a great experience that I decided to take a position with the Partnership for Public Service as a Federal Service Student Ambassador at the College for the past year.
I ask everyone reading this article right now to consider what exactly they’re looking for in a career after graduation. For me, I know it’s about three things — first, work that I can say I enjoy, second, competitive pay, health benefits and work/life balance, and three, job security. I’m willing to bet most students feel the same way, and I can say that careers with the government really do offer all of these things. The federal government boasts some of the most comprehensive health coverage around. On top of this, there’s real potential for advancement at a tremendous pace. As a lowly undergraduate intern, I was working with international cases dealing with high level military officials involved in war crimes in the 1970s, large-scale drug trafficking schemes and bank fraud. Clearly, there’s no shortage of interesting work. Some agencies will even repay up to 10,000 dollars of your student loans per year.
So why don’t we see more students out of college looking for work with the government? I think most people are just misinformed. Contrary to popular belief, 84 percent of federal jobs are located outside of Washington. What’s more, there are jobs available to people of literally every academic discipline. In fact, liberal arts majors only make up 34 percent of the public sector.
In short, next time you hear one of your recent graduate friends is having trouble finding a job, suggest the government. When it comes time for you yourself to be seeking out permanent employment, consider a federal career. The public sector is only expanding, and it will continue to do so. It really is a great way to start off one’s professional career.