Mark Hammer

college students perceive public sector work as boring and that there’s no autonomy for government workers

However, it’s not as in-plain-sight and talked about


If one takes a step back, and examines development of vocational interests across adolescence and early adulthood more generally, you do see that when people don’t know much about a job or career path, they tend to perceive it in terms of vague social-schemas they may hold or have conveyed to them. Research into children’s emerging awareness of jobs and work indicates that their knowledge about work is quite limited, such that their early notions of career paths they might pursue is often limited to those few jobs they regularly encounter in daily life or on TV: teacher, nurse, cowboy, firefighter, police officer, doctor, ballerina, rockstar, etc. Few express a serious urge to be a podiatrist or quantity estimator or policy analyst. It’s also why a significant percentage of undergrads will switch majors after 2nd year: There are a whole lot of -ologies that they never knew existed or that turned out to be very different than they originally thought.

Granted, there IS a lot about many public sector jobs that is boring and subject to too many controls, but I don’t know how many jobs are NOT like that. If you think Eli Manning only went to the practices he felt like attending, and didn’t have to spend hour after hour memorizing the playbook, think again.

So, I think we could accomplish two things here by further articulating the many-splendoured forms of federal employment, and those behind-the-scenes jobs that people tend not to know about. On the one hand, it would help provide new graduates with a better sense of match between their skills and career options, and give them a reason to seek federal work. On the other hand, it would give taxpayers a more fullsome notion of just what their tax dollars do when they’re not looking, and maybe attenuate some of their complaining (and I said “some”, because there is still plenty to complain about, and always will be).

Good call, Corey.