Pres. Obama and Government Careers
With record numbers of first-time voters and young people backing Obama’s presidency, perhaps a new generation of government workers will not be so hard to recruit after all.
With Baby Boomers retiring in droves over the next decade, fears have been widespread in public and nonprofit sectors that the United States will face a leadership shortage.
Not enough young people have shown an interest in government careers, and in-roads to government careers are not well known. Government has a reputation of being inefficient, less lucrative than business sector work, and very, very bureaucratic. People cite student loans that are just too high, and the need for better marketing of the compelling opportunities available in the government.
“This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program – this will be a central cause of my presidency. We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges.”- U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama during a speech given at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs July 2, 2008.
John F. Kennedy inspired a generation of youth to serve through initiatives like Peace Corps. Will a new generation of people — young people and people who are recently discovering civic engagement — be inspired to join the ranks of an Obama-led federal government? What do you think?
If you are considering a career in government — whether you supported McCain or Obama during this election cycle — you should know about these resources:
- Obama’s transition site, Change.gov, offers an online form to apply for a non-career position within the Obama Administration.
- AmeriCorps*VISTA and Peace Corps both offer first-year alums noncompetitive eligibility for federal government jobs. That means these recent program grads can apply for jobs not open to the entire public.
- Many other service corps (see the side bar) have placements in local and state government agencies that give professionals a taste of that work environment and access to new, highly relevant networks for this work.
- The Partnership for Public Service has developed an array of resources on federal-government career paths, for people of varying educational backgrounds and skills. Note that federal jobs exist throughout the country, not just in Washington, D.C.
- Job sites like Hill Zoo and USA Jobs specialize in government-sector jobs.
- The U.S. Public Service Academy movement led by Echoing Green Fellow Chris Myers Asch (Teach For America alum) aims to make public sector careers as clear-cut and supported an option as military careers have been for centuries. Listen to this Idealist podcast episode featuring Myers Asch.
- Some help exists for student loan cancellation in exchange for (years of) public service employment.
- Read about Obama’s pre-election stance on national service.
- Today’s Chronicle of Philanthropy asks if Obama will inspire more minority leaders in the nonprofit sector, and posts thoughts about what others think may be his influence for the charity sector.
- Read Equal Justice Work‘s blog post on Obama and public service expansion.
President-Elect Obama has been particularly clear that his administration will count on the help of people who have supported his candidacy and on those who didn’t. Young people may accept this invitation by entering the government workforce. If they do so with the enthusiasm and turn-out they have shown in his election bid, the looming leadership crisis may fail to materialize.