Pres. Obama and Government Careers

images-4With 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:

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.

The public sector path to loan forgiveness

When something sounds too good to be true, it’s all right to become suspicious.

Here’s the good news: if you work at a nonprofit, you can make your federal student loan debt go away in ten years as long as you work in the public service sector all that time and make 120 monthly payments on your student loan.

This is awesome news for public sector types with a high student loan debt and low income. There are a number of restrictions worth studying sooner than later. For example, your loans will have to go through the federal direct loan program. If you’re loans aren’t direct loans currently and you want to participate in the program, you’ll need to consolidate. It could well be worth it to you down the road if you are able to shave 15 years off your student loan!

The article covers the process of consolidating your loans into direct loans as well as some words of caution for holders of Perkins loans and tax implications down the road when the balance of your loan is discharged.

Also check out Equal Justice Work‘s new blog on public interest law and loan forgiveness for public service employment.