The Center for Public Interest Careers received a $1 million gift from David A. Ackert and Charlotte C. Ackert ’76 earlier this month as part of a University-wide push toward fostering increased student interest in the public sector.
“To be in the position we are in is very exciting,” CPIC Coordinator Amanda S. Glynn said. “It seems that everyone is rallying around to make CPIC’s vision of supporting students in public service happen.”
Part of the gift was used to hire Diana Y. Wan ’08 as a fellow to help with alumni outreach and the reopening of CPIC’s Los Angeles Fellowships and Internship Program.
Travis A. Lovett, the assistant director of CPIC, said the center’s mission is to show students, many of whom “attach volunteering to extracurricular life,” that “there are possibilities to work in the public sector.”
Over its seven years of existence, CPIC has placed 850 Harvard students in public interest internships, fellowships, and jobs, according to its Web site.
University President Drew G. Faust and Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds also appointed a new Public Service Committee earlier this month to research how to better provide students with public service career information and recruitment opportunities.
Over one third of Harvard undergraduates volunteer, and a survey conducted earlier this year by the Office of Career Services found that work in the nonprofit sector is of greatest interest to students. Glynn said she has also seen an increase in application numbers to CPIC’s programs.
But The Crimson’s senior survey conducted earlier this spring showed that 39 percent of graduating seniors entered the workforce with a job in finance or consulting.
University Spokesman John D. Longbrake said that Faust wanted to encourage students who felt pressured to accept jobs in the business sector to explore options in public service. In last spring’s baccalaureate address, Faust encouraged seniors to pursue careers they were passionate about, despite perceived pressure of accepting finance or consulting jobs, saying, “If you don’t pursue what you think will be most meaningful, you will regret it.”
Longbrake said that the financial crisis may have something to do with the heightened student interest in public service.
Lovett, however, did not agree.
“Students are interested in service because it speaks to them in some way,” he said. “The increase in interest over time is just us doing a better job of publicizing CPIC.”
Both Ackerts worked in investment banking and have been heavily involved with the CPIC Fellowship and Internship Program in New York, according to the center’s Fall 2008 newsletter.
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