After the US Men’s National Soccer Team lost in the World Cup, all the commentators lamented the state of US soccer. How are we going to develop great American soccer players when the best athletes are still choosing football and basketball?
Listening to this discussion, I found a parallel between attracting great young athletes to soccer and attracting smart young analysts and managers to public service. Good role models, clear info about rewards, guidance along the pathway to success, and positive feedback from peers are all things that would help both efforts.
Maybe you play soccer, too, but I know you can be a part of the solution for attracting young people to public service and contribute to your agency’s recruiting strategy by promoting public service at your alma mater, at your office, or in your community. Here are some ideas:
- Offer to give a presentation for the career center on campus about how to apply for jobs at your agency or level of government—navigating USAJOBS, preparing a resume that will get noticed, reading job descriptions to determine if you’re qualified, civil or foreign service exams. You could also set aside time to meet with individual students who have specific questions you can answer. Career centers love having alumni guests! If you’re going back to campus for a sporting event or homecoming, just add in a little time to give back.
- Send career center staff information about internships in your agency if you can’t go in person. What types of majors are most suitable? What’s the timeline for applications? Can you send a posting for them to send to appropriate students? I get emails from alumni every week with job and internship postings from their organizations, along with offers to talk with potential applicants.
- Participate in a mentoring program, if your college has one, so that you can build relationships with students from year to year.
- Volunteer to speak at a Career Day (high school or college) to discuss the rewards of public service at your agency in terms of interest to young people—work-life balance, making a difference in your work, increased responsibility faster than the private sector, job security, benefits—whatever you think are good things about your organization. All jobs have positives and negatives, so mention both.
- Find out if your college brings students to city hall, the state capital or DC for class or career trips, and volunteer to speak or host a group at your office. We take our Masters students to DC each January to meet with alumni and other friends of our program for career advice, and we have an annual event in the state capital as well. My brother takes his students to watch the Supreme Court in session each year.
- Talk with your summer interns about full time hiring. Is it possible? If not immediately after graduation, then how can they position themselves to get a full time position at your organization in a year or two? If you have a number of interns in your office, have a brown bag lunch with them and include other colleagues to answer their questions about the agency.
- Encourage your interns to be ambassadors for your agency when they return to campus. Students look to their classmates for advice on course, careers and dating–make sure your intern speaks well of your office.
Many college students are attracted to public service, in some surveys as many as 25%, but with a complicated government hiring process and increased private sector hiring, human capital offices are challenged with finding creative ways to attract, hire and retain smart young people. Help find the next Ronaldo, Lukaku, Messi or Tim Howard for your organization!