Federal employers covet college grads

Correction appended

Todd Jasper started working security at the Surf & Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach, Calif., four years ago. Now, the graduating senior will work at the Department of Homeland Security – one of a growing number of students to secure government jobs out of college.

The job market is especially good for GW graduates who want to work for the government, said Tim McManus, vice president of education and outreach for the Partnership for Public Service.

A third of the people working in the federal government are expected to retire in the next five years, making it easier to find a job in that sector, he said. In addition, the recession makes government jobs more attractive because of the extra security and stability.

“The government isn’t exactly going to go away,” he said.

Job prospects for students graduating in a few weeks may be better than in spring 2007, but reports show the recent mortgage crisis has made the market tougher than expected.

Employers are expected to hire 8 percent more graduates this year than last year, but this estimate was about twice as much prior to the crisis, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a research firm focused on college graduate employment. Salaries are also expected to increase by 5.3 percent, the association said.

“What makes the biggest difference is not a recession, but how and when a student taps his/her network,” GW Director of Employment Anne Scammon wrote in an e-mail. She said this includes working on job search skills and utilizing the Career Center.

Networking and personal connections, in addition to Internet job listings, were more useful than any other resource for last year’s job searchers, a Career Center survey found. Alumni said internships during college were more parallel to their current profession than their academic major. Also, one third of last year’s graduates now work for the government or non-profit organizations.

GW alumnus Stephanie Caccomo was able to take advantage of the strong market for government jobs.

The 2005 GW graduate works at the Department of Justice – a job she started during her senior year of college. She was promoted after graduation.

She advised students who want to work for the government to “apply (as soon as possible) and remember that government employers want all of the details.”

More 2007 alumni work for the government and in politics than any other sector, according to a GW Career Center survey.

Laura Annetta, a 2007 graduate, works at Battelle Memorial Institute in Crystal City, Va., a non-profit science and technology advancement company, as a Navy contractor.

Although Annetta had two job offers before graduation, she said students should not get discouraged early on.

“My friends who began searching senior year and had to wait the longest to hear back about jobs ended up having some of the best job offers,” she said.

Only 5 percent of 2007 graduates not attending graduate school lacked jobs, according to a poll taken last winter by the Career Center.

Job search success rates varied heavily from field to field. Despite the rapidly rising salaries, the number of engineering majors in colleges across the nation is shrinking, according to the NACE report. All participating 2007 graduates of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences reported being employed or enrolled in graduate school.

Engineering students will be highly sought after by employers following graduation, McManus said.

“Only two-thirds of engineering students are even eligible to work in the U.S. and everyone, including the government, is competing for them,” he said. “The engineering school at GW has proactively made some great connections at places like NASA.”

This article has been changed to reflect the following correction: (May 20, 2008)

The Hatchet misspelled Stephanie Caccomo’s name. The Hatchet also erroneously reported Caccomo works in the Consumer Litigation Agency. She works for the Department of Justice.

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