Students Want to Work in Government

Edwin Koc, research director for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) says for today’s students “taking home a hefty paycheck and quickly climbing the career ladder are not as important. They prize personal growth and opportunities to contribute to their communities over financial gain.”

NACE is a respected leader in its field. When it asked thousands of students expected to graduate college at the end of this academic year to identify the top industries in which they preferred to begin their careers, the leaders — by a wide margin — were:

  1. Government
  2. Human Services
  3. Education
  4. Social Services

A Mississippi State University professor adds, “The motivation to work in the public sector stems from a desire to help others. Young people in America are socialized with that aspect in mind.”

The comments from the 2013-2014 class are being backed up by students in the last few years who are enrolling in public administration or public affairs graduate problems at high levels. For example:

  • Graduate enrollment at the Ohio State University John Glenn School of Public Affairs has surged 48% since 2008
  • Overall, a Council of Graduate School study revealed first-time enrollment for public administration and services programs equaled growth for engineering students and outpaced business degree enrollment

Some would consider this a troubling trend due to the private sector struggling to find workers with the appropriate skills. I’ll go the other way, pointing out (as the Governing article does) that many of these students with public administration training end up pursuing careers in the non-profit or private sectors. More importantly, the attitude of serving the public and wanting to make a difference is strongly welcomed.