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Seniors Attend Public Service Recruitment Day

Seniors interested in public sector careers gathered at the Phillips Brooks House, pictured here, to network with potential employers.
Seniors interested in public sector careers gathered at the Phillips Brooks House, pictured here, to network with potential employers. By C.C. Gong

Weeks after their peers hobnobbed with recruiters from management consulting and finance firms, College seniors interested in pursuing public sector careers had their chance to network with potential employers on Oct. 27.

The fourth annual Public Service Recruitment Day consisted of an interview portion with employers including the Boston’s mayor’s office, the NAACP, and the Peace Corps at Philip Brooks House, followed by a reception at Cabot House. According to Travis A. Lovett, who directs the Center for Public Interest Careers, 135 students applied to participate in this year’s recruitment day, a joint effort between the Office of Career Services, CPIC, the Institute of Politics, and Philip Brooks House.

Lovett said that the organizers were motivated to hold Public Service Recruitment Day after hearing student concerns about the lack of structure in public sector hiring. Nonprofit organizations often hire sporadically, waiting until they receive grant money or have a vacancy in a position before they can hire more staff members.

With the Public Service Recruitment Day, Lovett said CPIC sought to emulate the more structured consulting and finance hiring process.

“[OCS has] been able to provide some advice about what it’s like to work with Bain, McKinsey, Goldman-Sachs, and so forth to give us a sense of, ‘Okay, how can we replicate the practices that are working well for these particular organizations?’” he said.

Nicholas J. Abbott ’18, who said he plans to pursue a career in local government, said that waiting for public sector jobs that may come in the springtime can be difficult.

“It’s not just about there being enough opportunities, but the timing of those opportunities, especially for seniors who may be trying to make plans about where they might want to live next year or just have economic security,” Abbott said.

According to Gene A. Corbin, Assistant Dean of Student Life for Public Service, around one in five seniors who participated in the recruiting day have received job offers.

Madeleine H. Stern ’18, who interviewed at the event, commended the office's effort.

“I think it’s a really great and important event that Harvard does to kind of elevate the work that these organizations are doing and give students an opportunity to interact with those kinds of careers in a very serious way, very early on,” Stern said.

Lovett said he hopes to hold another public service recruiting fair during CPIC’s Public Interested conference in January, and potentially another recruiting day in April.

“We try to take some of the guesswork out of this process, but the reality is that it’s just challenging. And that’s something we hope to continue to evolve and to think about how to support our students,” Lovett said.

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