I was honored to spend the last 2 days at Syracuse University with MPA and PhD students in Public Administration, IT, and Public Diplomacy.
I had two lunches, 1 dinner, 2 coffee breaks with specific small groups of students, a career talk to 30 students, and a presentation to 100 students about Gov 2.0.
I had a number of observations from the trip:
-People are passionate about public service. MPAs and other students went to get these degrees because they want to give back and want to work in public service.
-Stats - 100% of students are on FB, 90% or so on Linkedin, about 30% on Twitter. Only a few on Foursquare.
-Online brand - lots of questions and concerns about what it means to manage their online brand. Students are really worried about employers and if they will find them online. My advice - assume they will find you and make up for it by creating content online that is good and professional (from blogs to conference presentations to slideshows to LInkedIn)
-Gov 2.0 is new to everyone - There is still a transition from e-government to gov 2.0. A lot of the academics and researchers who were instrumental on e-gov are skeptical about gov 2.0 but curious to hear more. Just shows change is hard and takes time.
-Diversity of career goals - I was exciting to see about 1/4 of folks wanted to work in local government, about 1.2 of folks in federal gov't, and the remaining 1/4 in non-profit or public sector consulting.
-Cool to See Academics Studying Work GLers are doing - A lot of the research people were doing was totally related to many of the GovLoop posts and work folks are doing. Spent 20 minutes with PhD Student who is writing their thesis on Enterprise 2.0 collaboration and we talked a lot about various software and how to make knowledge management happen. One researcher was writing a paper based on interviewing the New Media representatives of all federal agencies
-It's not just an age thing - Everyone thinks all people in their 20s get social media and new tools. There were definitely a number of skeptics in the audience which is healthy and good. One student was passionate that technology was failing the "young" kids and that they weren't learning basic skills of communication like phone and face-to-face and she was worried.
-Public Sector is Awesome - Lot of love for the GovLoop "Government Rockstar" t-shirts. Heard an interesting story from an student who works in the military. When he went to grad school to study public administration, his family said...why do you want to work in the gov't? That's not cool. He said - but I have always been in govt- that's the military. And his family said "well that is different - military good, gov't not cool"