Promoting Public Service and Federal Employment in Massachusetts. (beyond the Beltway)

Article excerpt

The chairperson of the Greater Boston Federal Executive Board describes a campaign aimed at high schools throughout the commonwealth.

The Greater Boston Federal Executive Board (FEB) recently announced the federal government's local "Campaign to Promote Public Service" to more than 480 Commonwealth of Massachusetts high school principals and guidance directors. The board represents approximately 110 federal agencies in the Greater Boston area. A letter I wrote said:

We want to tell students that as the nation's largest employer, the federal government hires nearly every profession. We are looking for highly motivated individuals who want to make a difference and help us meet the needs of the American people. We are interested in reaching students who will go on to college and those who will not. The federal government has much to offer both groups.

Each school was also provided with a brochure developed by the FEB for local guidance counselors and students. The brochure highlights the benefits of federal employment, hiring initiatives, and programs attractive to students as well as federal job search Web sites such as www.studentjobs.gov and www.usajobs.opm.gov.

Do students consider public service?

As chair of the FEB. I envisioned the local campaign to fill a gap in promoting public service careers. A poll published by the Partnership for Public Service in the summer of 2002 indicated that only one in six college-educated Americans seriously considers a career in public service. The number one reason cited was lack of information. And, nationwide, the federal government faces losing up to 50 percent of its workforce over the next five years through retirement, and will have vacancies to fill in every career field imaginable. Although many agencies continue to visit colleges and graduate schools annually, shrinking budgets and staff had virtually eliminated the high school component. This program's goal is to reestablish the federal government's connection with local high schools and to get students thinking about federal careers.

Launching the Campaign

The campaign's official launch was on October 8, 2002. More than 100 high school guidance counselors from across Massachusetts came together with "Uncle Sam" to learn about the variety and number of career opportunities with the federal government. The program featured more than 40 federal agencies in a trade show-like forum, and presentations by a variety of local federal leaders. Local executives representing the civilian, military, and postal ranks, as well as a Bush administration appointee and a federal law enforcement officer, all spoke to the attendees. In several cases, the executives started in government service at the entry level and rose through the ranks to Senior Executive Service positions. The event was a huge success by all accounts.

Among the comments received by the counselors were: "This is one of the most interesting and helpful seminars I have ever attended. Each and every presenter was of interest to me. There was not one second of down time." "The speakers were direct, to the point, explained their careers and professions with just enough detail." "I never realized how many opportunities were available for students. Everyone was so personable and committed. It was so well organized." "Speakers were all interesting, enthusiastic, and funny too!" "I thoroughly enjoyed all the speakers. It shows that you truly have a passion and feel strongly about the work you do. …