Millenials Seek Public Service Jobs

VIDEO: Laura Dodd shares tips for young people entering the workforce.

Emily Walters wanted a career in translating -- until her experience as an intern with the U.S. State Department in Suriname, a small country located directly north of Brazil. After 10 weeks assisting with Visa processing, visual arts initiatives, and hosting a U.S. Business Expo, Walters knew the career she wanted.

"In Suriname I realized public service was what I wanted to do," she told "And with the statistics of hiring in the public sector and the job security it would provide, I was motivated to find a job."

But after applying to the U.S. State Department and to the U.S. Air Force Officer's School and still without a job offer, Walters finds herself a bit disheartened but not giving up on her dream of a job in the public service.

John Hotard, a career consultant who served as the director of the graduate business school's career services at New York University and Fordham University, said, "The public sector has always been an escape hatch for college graduates, but what we're seeing with this millennial generation is public service as a desired career path."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, colleges and universities are expected to award 798,000 associate's degrees and 1,669,000 bachelor's degrees in the 2010–11 school year. With so many graduates entering the work force, current young college graduates may have even more difficulty finding a job in the public sector.

"The unprecedented unemployment in the U.S. has thrown young people into competition with adults who before the recession wouldn't have had difficulty finding a job or would be retiring," said Gregory DeFreitas, a professor of economics and the director of the Labor Studies Program at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y. "But now they're hanging on for dear life."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February 2011 the unemployment rate for people 20 to 24 years old was more than 14 percent, whereas the unemployment rate for people over age 25 was 7.8 percent.

Walters, who graduated from Texas A&M in December with a double major in international relations and Spanish, is working at the school's Study Abroad Programs Office until she finds a job in the public sector.

"I don't want to change my area of interest," said Walters. "I have a passion for public service; I'm going to continue my job search."

The Millenials: A Commitment to Social Responsibility

According to Hotard, Walters' dream of working in the public sector is not uncommon among millenials.

"The world is a more global market place, and because it is more global many millenials want to get involved in public service permanently," said Hotard. "They highly value career development where they can practice their strong commitment to social responsibility."

Like Hotard, DeFreitas believes the dramatic increases in young graduates seeking public service jobs is not just out of their desperation for a job.

"Exposure to community service programs in high schools is giving these young people a chance to volunteer more at an earlier age, and they want to make a career of it," said DeFreitas.

However these millenials may have more trouble finding a job in the public sector than expected. The National Association of Colleges and Employers job outlook for 2011 found that more than one third of government employers are cutting plans for hiring new college graduates.

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