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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

Yet business students approach financial problems—such as building the budget of the United States of America—with particularly analytical methods, and we’re trained to work incredibly long hours, sometimes many hours past “quitting time.” Our services, therefore, are particularly useful to the rigors of managing the federal government , which is starting to work more like a corporation in all the right ways: we now have a “C-Suite” that includes a Chief Performance Officer , a Chief Information Officer, a Chief Technology Officer, all of whom operate within one organizational level from the President. COOs being installed in most major agencies, and the CFO Act went into effect back in 1990. Even a Chief Human Capital Officer’s Council has been forced to shine a stark light on the talented people who make our country run. Such lofty titles are more than adornments: they bring a degree of “buck stops here” accountability to an organization traditionally more comfortable with diffuse responsibility.

When a high-ranking Heinz alumnus returned to Carnegie Mellon in search of OMB interns, I applied with only a modicum of confidence that I might be selected for an interview. After all, an opportunity to work for the President is by no means a foregone conclusion, no matter whom you are. Next thing I knew, I was in Washington, D.C., sitting in a room with four members of the PPM team—some of the hardest-working, most mission-dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know—who literally said, “Teach us about digital marketing.” At that point, I took a deep breath and began…it became immediately clear that “who you know” would never be enough to survive at the top levels of government service any more than it would be in private industry.

Therein lies the opportunity for every citizen hoping for a chance to serve his or her country while enjoying a stimulating career with outsized impact: being the best at something will almost always, in the long run, secure a chance to shine. We hear so much now about the country’s unemployment rate, but 10.2% is a deceptive average—when accounted by education level, far more granularity comes out immediately. 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—essentially full employment, since the number doesn’t parse out individuals who choose not to work for one reason or another (say, while preparing to raise a family or go back to school), or who are between jobs or starting a new business. The unemployment rate among non-high school educated adults, by contrast, is upwards of 14%.


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