Doing Good Before Doing Well

In these parlous economic times, college graduates are turning toward public service jobs to tide them over until private sector jobs bounce back.

From Wednesday’s New York Times:

In 2009 alone, 16 percent more young college graduates worked for the federal government than in the previous year and 11 percent more for nonprofit groups, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data from the American Community Survey of the United States Census Bureau. A smaller Labor Department survey showed that the share of educated young people in these jobs continued to rise last year.

“It’s not uncommon for me to hear of over 100 applications for a nonprofit position, sometimes many more than that, and many more Ivy League college graduates applying than before,” said Diana Aviv, chief executive of Independent Sector, a trade group for nonprofits. “Some of these people haven’t been employed for a while and are happy to have something. But once they’re there, they’ve recalibrated and reoriented themselves toward public service.”

It is not clear, though, whether a different starting point will truly “recalibrate” these workers’ long-term career aspirations — that is, whether their newfound paths will stick, or if they will jump to more lucrative careers when jobs are more plentiful.

No kidding.

For decades (specifically the ’60s and ’70s), the hardworking staff operated on the belief that civil service exams were the last refuge of the liberal arts major.

That led to semi-lucrative gigs with the U.S. Postal Service (seasonal), Cincinnati’s street-paving crew (flatout lied about educational status to get a summer’s worth of work), and the Social Security Administration (see The Redemption Unit).

So, take heart, recent college graduates.

With any luck, in 40 years you’ll be . . . a blogger.

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2 Responses to Doing Good Before Doing Well

  1. arafat kazi says:

    This should be part of your orientation lecture.

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