Trends drive federal hiring
by Andrew Shurtleff
three job possibilities in the private sector failed to pan
out this spring, soon-to-be U.Va. graduate Travis Lynch, a
fourth-year engineering student, snapped up a civilian job
as an electronics engineer with Naval Air Systems.
By Charlotte Crystal
unemployment expected to hit 6 percent in May, its not the
best time to be looking for a job. But with graduation just around
the corner, fourth-year students need to decide what comes next.
numbers of students are applying to graduate pre-professional
schools especially law school and medical school
because there seems to be a perception that there are fewer opportunities
in the job market, said Jennifer Hoffman, associate director
for employer services for the College of Arts & Sciences.
national economic downturn notwithstanding, Hoffman said that
its impact on universities has been to shift the sectors that
are hiring. According to the National Association of Colleges
and Employers, college recruiting was expected to fall by only
3.6 percent this spring.
some extent, students perceptions of the job market match
reality. Recruiting is already down. In its April 2002 survey,
the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported a
36 percent decline in college student hiring nationwide between
2000-01 and 2001-02.
U.Va. has fared better than the national average, Hoffman said.
Career office figures have not been compiled for this year, but
last year U.Va. saw only a 15-20 percent drop in overall recruiting,
compared with the year before.
for recruiting by government agencies, the situation this year
is better than last year, Hoffman noted. This year, there are
708 job and internship openings up from 557 last year
advertised on HoosTrak, an online database for U.Va. students
and alumni. Still, the number of openings hasnt recovered
to the level seen in 2000-01,when there were 1,357 government
jobs and internships advertised on HoosTrak, she said.
two trends have combined to create a powerful hiring drive within
the federal government, according to U.Va. career experts. The
first trend is the war on terrorism.
have definitely seen an increase in recruiting from government
agencies, especially those connected with security and defense,
were twice as many government agencies recruiting U.Va. students
at an internship career fair this year compared with last year,
she said. Government recruiters have been particularly interested
in students with degrees in engineering and architecture. Theyre
also seeking to fill numerous positions in public health and patenting.
second trend is the aging federal workforce.
50 percent of all federal government employees will be eligible
to retire in the next five years, said Ladd Flock, director
of career services for the College of Arts & Sciences.
noted that federal agencies not just in Washington, but
also in other large, metropolitan centers, such as New York and
Atlanta are seeking to bring in new talent before the first
wave of baby boomers crowds through the exit.
federal recruiters in particular, U.Va.s proximity to Washington
is an asset, as is the presence of students from Northern Virginia
who are familiar with the metro area and the strong presence of
U.Va. alumni in federal jobs eager to bring aboard more U.Va.
Lynch is one U.Va. student who has already taken the next step.
The fourth-year student from Petersburg is scheduled to graduate
with a major in electrical engineering and concentrations in digital
systems and microelectronics. Hes also completed the requirements
for a minor in technology, management and policy, giving him an
understanding of the business side of engineering.
22, met last fall with naval recruiters at a career fair sponsored
by the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Since then,
hes talked with recruiters several times about the nature
of available jobs, opportunities for advancement, benefits, including
financial support to further his education, and the chance to
three job possibilities in the private sector fell through, Lynch
snapped up a civilian job as an electronics engineer with U.S.
Naval Air Systems. He reports June 16 to the naval base in Patuxent
River, Md., to work on helicopter-ship communications.
initial salaries for government jobs might be lower than those
offered in the private sector, Flock said the current demographics
of the federal workforce are likely to favor recent graduates.
Those who accept entry-level positions in the next few years may
find themselves moving rapidly up the career ladder as older workers
retire and create opportunities for advancement.
time spent working for government agencies would enable students
to develop skills that would make them more attractive to private
employers later on, Flock said. Better to grab the job in the
think Im ready, Lynch said.