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The path to public service for new professionals often includes more bends than expected, particularly for students and new professionals interested in working at the federal level. The federal hiring process can be increasingly complex, lengthy and in some cases frustrating.
As an advocate for the public service field, the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) has encouraged increased opportunity for recent graduates and new professionals. Most recently, ASPA submitted comments to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in support of new efforts to recruit and retain young and new professionals to the federal government. The Pathways Programs that the federal government will implement responds to President Obama’s Executive Order last December to make the hiring process simpler for recent graduates to apply to the federal government and create internship opportunities for students.
For years, the federal hiring process, especially for new professionals, has been decried as unnecessarily complex and difficult to understand. It was also criticized for its overwhelming emphasis on experience over skills. The new Pathways Programs create a simple framework similar to private sector internships and recruitment processes. In its comments to OPM, ASPA noted that the simpler structure, which also includes an increased emphasis on mentoring and professional development for individuals selected for the programs, are a positive step by the federal government to recruit and retain the newest talent and brightest experts to public service. ASPA is also pleased that the programs will be open to all graduate students, including doctoral students, and the caps on the number of students that can convert from student/internship positions to a permanent post has been removed.
To this end, OPM was urged to include public administration graduate students among the select category of students who can be hired at more competitive grade levels in recognition of their acute and specialized skills. ASPA also emphasized the need for critical skills and the pools of skills that are available in the field of public administration. In general, ASPA applauded the new Pathways framework as a crucial step to helping the United State build a globally recognized recruitment program and enhancing public service as a viable option for young and new professionals.
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