Federal Jobs Generate Interest

On the heels of an economic recession and the installation of a new presidential administration, Harvard students are increasingly looking towards the public sector for work experience, data and programming from campus career organizations suggest.

Applicants for the Institute of Politics’ summer stipend program, which funds students working in the public sector, increased by 120 percent this spring, and applications to the IOP’s Director’s Internship program, an array of governmental summer work experiences, increased by 60 percent from 2008, according to the IOP’s Internship Program Administrator Amy Howell.

Public sector enthusiasm has also been on display at the Office of Career Services, where yesterday an information session titled, “Government, Politics, and Policy: How to find a Job” drew 48 students, prompting Interim Director of OCS Robin Mount to remark on the excitement she has seen for government work in the wake of President Barack Obama’s election.

Mount also pointed to the economic recession as a driving force behind the heightened interest in government positions.

Amid the positive turnout for such events, organizations are planning more. Between mid-October and mid-November, The Center for Public Interest Careers, the IOP, and OCS plan to jointly hold 14 different events focusing on finding a job in the public sector, said Mount.

These resources for Harvard students have not always been so prominent. Nick B. Manske ’09, currently working with the U.S. Diplomatic Service, remembers that during his tenure at Harvard, support and campus recruiting for government sector jobs were less available than similar resources for the private sector, “but it was there if you looked for it.”

Manske recalled having to look outside Harvard and contact a U.S. Diplomat-in-Residence at Tufts University to receive advice about the U.S. Foreign Service.

This year, OCS has already hosted the CIA and State Department and is looking to have the FBI and NASA soon.

Mount says that Harvard is a “target School for the CIA, FBI, and State Department because of its in-depth language programs and strong writing programs.”

Renee M. Ragin ’10, a member of the non-profit “Partnership for Public Service,” a D.C.-based organization that aims to educate students about ways they can get involved in public service, also said that she had detected an increased interest in the public sector in the last year.

With fewer career options available because of the economic situation, Ragin said, “people are beginning to think that government is something that they could be interested in and really do.”