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How Uncle Sam is Reaching Out to Recent Grads

How Uncle Sam is Reaching Out to Recent Grads

Peter Vogt /

On May 1, 2006, the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees the federal government’s civilian workforce, unveiled a series of four television advertisements that speak directly to college students and recent grads, ages 20 to 24. The idea: To tell students and recent graduates around the country that rewarding careers await them in the federal government. The federal government says it will need to recruit and hire thousands of new college graduates over the next five to 10 years to replace an impending wave of Baby Boomer retirees.

But students already seem to know that. In fact, the very next day, the Partnership for Public Service released survey findings noting that 42 percent of today’s college students are “extremely” or “very” interested in working for the federal government.

If this sounds like the perfect win-win scenario, you’re wrong – far too often, these two camps simply aren’t finding each other.

The Real Problem

That same Partnership survey, which involved 3,000 students at six different universities, revealed that only 13 percent of students are “extremely” or “very” knowledgeable about federal job options.

Such numbers show “that students are eager to learn more about federal job opportunities,” noted Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership, in a news release on the study’s findings. "It is up to the federal agencies to change their approach and to take the message to the students in a way that resonates with them.

Hence, the television ads, which debuted in two cities – Greenville, South Carolina, and Flint, Michigan – that have large numbers of 20- to 24-year-old, job-seeking college grads and will eventually be seen around the country. The ads spotlight several real federal government employees and direct viewers to visit OPM’s centralized job search and career exploration Web site, USAJOBS.

More to Come

The OPM isn’t alone in its marketing and recruitment efforts, despite the fact that some skeptics say the OPM’s prediction of an impending federal employee crisis is overblown. Indeed, the Partnership for Public Service has gone beyond studying the problem and is attempting to address it with two initiatives of its own:

Call to Serve, a nationwide collaborative of more than 550 colleges and universities and 60 federal agencies, is aiming to educate college students about federal career options. Beginning this fall, students on participating campuses will see a new promotional campaign featuring posters, student newspaper advertisements and a new Web site through which they can communicate via email with several federal government employees.

Related Links
  • Do you want to learn more about careers with the federal government? Find one here.

  • Looking for scholarships to take your skill set to the next level? Find one here.

A Summer Intern Event features nationally known speakers who talk to college students about federal government careers. On July 26, 2006, some 2,000 interns from across the Washington, DC, area heard from Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and NBC “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert.

But if you’re a college student, you don’t necessarily need to wait for Uncle Sam to come calling. Instead, start exploring possibilities by:

Visiting the Partnership for Public Service and USAJOBS.

Reading through Monster and perusing the Gov’t/Public Service Careers message board.

Reading The Student’s Federal Career Guide.

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