Attitudes Towards Public Service Careers
NASPAA/GWU Survey Results
MPPs View Federal Employment:
William C. Adams,
This 1998 nationwide survey of 477 graduate students in 28 MPA and MPP programs found that Federal civil service employment is not nearly as appealing to these first-year students as might be expected. Federal jobs are a priority for only about one fourth of these students. Most view Federal jobs as offering attractive benefits and job security, but no other features were widely viewed as positive.
The single most powerful predictor of affinity for Federal jobs is having the personal career priority of having “a real impact on national issues” and believing that Federal jobs offer that opportunity. Those who value and are optimistic about chances for personal growth and job security are also significantly more likely than other MPA/P students to want Federal careers.Along with these opinion factors, the attraction to Federal jobs is stronger among those who have friends and relatives who work for government.
Converting student interest into actual workers confronts at least one serious obstacle.Even students who are eager to get a Federal job believe that doing so would probably be a prolonged and laborious process.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STUDY
Impressions of Federal jobs
Premise of the survey: “This survey seeks your impressions of working for the Federal government (but not in the military and not as an elected politician) in jobs where recent graduates of your program might be employed.”
The Appeal of Federal Careers
Sympathizers Altogether, 12% consider a Federal job "fairly appealing" and ranked it as their second choice (usually behind non-profits or state and local government).
Skeptics About 36% of students surveyed consider a Federal job to be no more than "slightly appealing" and give it a lower priority - but do say that "at some point" they would be willing to "consider working for the Federal government."
Scorners A total of 16% of these graduate students said they would not even "consider working for the Federal government" at any time during their career.
Preferred Career Sectors
Source: Information courtesy of the Higher Education Research Institute, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program: http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/heri/cirp.htm
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