Originally created 11/30/02

Federal agencies try to lure grads



ATHENS, Ga. - Finding employment feels like winning the lottery these days, so a boom in federal government jobs may attract college graduates who would have looked toward the private sector in more prosperous times.

For the first time in many years, the University of Georgia Career Center is organizing a career fair solely for students interested in nonprofit and federal agencies, said Jim Richardson, the career consultant for UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

The federal government is set to hire 250,000 people in the next two years as nearly 50 percent of its 1.8 million workers approach retirement, according to Max Stier, the president of Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit group that promotes civil service careers.

In addition to the retirement-aged work force, the newly created Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration are seeking to hire thousands of employees.

"Our national association indicates that the government has been the only industry that has not had any cutbacks or setbacks since 9-11," Mr. Richardson said. "I think the conception that students have is the federal government is a place where they're going to sit in a cubicle somewhere and process paperwork. They don't realize the same opportunities that exist in the private sector are available in the public sector."

Those job openings are requiring the federal government to brush up its image to appeal to college graduates - young adults who have traditionally been seduced by notions of Wall Street and the dot-com promises of fast and easy money, Mr. Stier said.

"The federal government, by and large, has not been in the recruiting business for over a decade," he said. "... The advantages of the jobs are not well known. We are trying to make young people recognize that in fact federal jobs are a way to make a difference."