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Finding Opportunity Amid the Scary (Job) Statistics

Finding Opportunity Amid the Scary (Job) Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s November 2009 figures, unemployment among college-educated civilian adults 25 years and older is merely 4.6 percent

Jonathon S. Feit | GovCentral Contributing Writer

I promised my editor I’d cut to the chase. But first, an introduction: My name is Jonathon Feit, and in the Summer of 2009 I received a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to serve as an MBA Intern in the Office of Management & Budget, within the Executive Office of the President of the United States. I was assigned to the Performance & Personnel Management (PPM) Division, which essentially (a) vets the allocation and efficacy of federal funds to agencies and (b) coordinates budgetary elements pertaining to human resources within the executive branch workforce. One of the projects I had the opportunity to be “on detail” with was a mandate by the President to “make government cool again.” Specifically, I was to assist in the reformation of the strategic marketing plan for, the online “Face of Federal Hiring.”

At OPM I was linked up with counterparts that included Matt Collier, a recent Stanford MBA graduate who combines past government service (in the Department of Homeland Security) with a Top-10 business school education to embody the very brightest talent that our country can produce; and Dale Anglin, a dedicated civil servant for over 22 years, who soaks up knowledge of everything —from technical programming languages to consumer psychology—like a kid at an intellectual soda fountain. Eighty-nine days later (on the 90ths I would have needed a different security clearance), I left OMB confident that the cadre of dedicated public servants inside OPM, OMB, the Department of Labor, and elsewhere were committed to improving the creative and technical procedures (that means “make government cool”) inside a government office.

Through this anecdote I hope to highlight the impact of “networking” on my internship experience: while a friend, community, or alumni connection might secure a foot in the door (even an interview if you’re lucky), ultimately it’s “having the goods” that gets you the gig.

I am a business school student: we learn statistics, and finance, and marketing, and how to account for collected money in one column and track spending in another—useful stuff, but ultimately missing devoid of the most important aspect of business that so often goes unnoticed: people.

But customer behavior, organizational change, interpersonal negotiations—these are the lifeblood of commerce and politics, even though they cannot be accurately monitored via little ticker symbols that scroll across the screen on every financial news channel. Rather than describe what people do, these disciplines and others like them focus on what people feel—their loyalties and commitments and motivations and fears.

I discovered the OMB internship opportunity through the career services office at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, where I’ll complete my degree in May; our sister college across the quad—the Heinz School—is one of the foremost public policy graduate institutions in the U.S.. The school is fortunate to have many alumni that return annually in the hope of prying away top talent into mentally stimulating government jobs that enjoy the stability of government jobs. But I’m not a public policy wonk, and there are relatively few MBAs in the government’s top ranks, due to a combination of low decision-making authority and pay rates that are less competitive in comparison with the private sector.)

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