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Eighty-four College seniors interviewed with 21 nonprofit organizations during the College's fifth annual Public Service Recruitment Day, held at the Student Organization Center at Hilles Friday.
The recruitment program received 261 applications from 147 students, and was able to offer 120 interviews with various public service organizations, Travis Lovett, director of the Center for Public Interest Careers, said. Around 27 percent of participating students in last year’s program eventually received a job offer from an organization they interviewed with. Public Service Recruitment Day was organized by the Phillips Brooks House, CPIC, the Office of Career Services, and the Institute of Politics.
The event was designed to mimic the recruitment practices of finance and consulting firms in order to provide students with a clearer path into a public service job, Lovett said. In an OCS survey given to the Class of 2018, 22 percent of graduating seniors said they planned to work for non-profits or the government — compared to seventy-two percent planning to pursue for-profit jobs — and University President Lawrence S. Bacow has emphasized the importance of students entering public service.
Many public sector organizations, howerver, hire on a just-in-time hiring model, and sometimes cannot make job offers to students until late spring or early summer, whereas the private sector has the financial resources to recruit in the fall.
Even for students genuinely interested in public sector opportunities, Lovett said the late timeline can pose difficulties.
“For many students, waiting until that point can be pretty challenging. It’s especially stressful for a lot of our first generation college students, or students that have high financial need.”
During its first two years, the recruiting event brought in organizations that were interested in hiring recent graduates, but may not have had concrete job offerings, making it more difficult for students to find a secure position.
“We’ve been more deliberate about trying to identify more competitive programs and trying to identify organizations that do have explicit hiring needs that will set students up for success,” Lovett said.
The Attollo Leadership Fellows, for instance, was looking for talented people rather than just hiring on an as-needed basis, CEO Jordan S. Steffy said.
“If we find the right fits and there’s three of them we’ll make three offers. If we find 15 of them we’ll make 15 offers,” Steffy said.
After last year's Public Service Recruitment Day, Nicholas J. Abbott ’18 was selected by the San Francisco Fellows program. Now his role has swapped, and he returned to interview and recruit current seniors interested in public service.
“Private sector companies do a great job of recruiting here on campus,” Abbott said. “I think it’s really great the OCS and CPIC and others have tried to model public service recruiting off of that structure so that people earlier in the year can find out about those opportunities.”
Lovett said career paths in public service are rarely straightforward.
“The pathways are pretty murky to navigate. People discover nonprofit work or public interest work in such a variety of ways that it is challenging to navigate one individual pathway," he said.
Several students participating in the event said they were aware they likely would not receive immediate job offers from the day.
“It’s more of a way to encounter new opportunities and get information,” Haley S. Elliott ’19 said. “I think it was very much a ‘do you have questions for me?’ kind of thing.”
Jingjing Z. Zhu ’19 said the event introduced her to organizations she was not familiar with before.
“A 30 minute conversation, someone who can be that connection for you as you try to apply to the organization, I think definitely is helpful," she said.
Lovett said CPIC is excited to continue running Public Service Recruitment Day.
“As we learn each year, we’ve made incremental improvements every year. And I think that’s going to lead to more job offers," he said.
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