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More seek public service jobs

BY STACI EISENBERG | MARCH 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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Recent University of Iowa graduate Brooke Anstoetter said she always imagined herself working for a big corporation in a metropalitan area.

But last spring, she ran out of options when searching for a marketing job in Chicago.

“I struggled a lot,” the 23-year-old said about her job search.

So she turned to public service.

She found a part-time job at the Johnson County Crisis Center in May 2010, where she recruited volunteers. She was later hired on a full-time basis, and she said she would recommend her job to any recent graduate.

Local and national officials said college graduates working for smaller nonprofits and public-service organizations seems to be an emerging trend.

In 2009 alone, 16 percent more young college graduates worked for the federal government than in the previous year and 11 percent more for nonprofit groups, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the American Community Survey of the Census Bureau.

Jim Seyfer, a career adviser at the Pomerantz Career Center, said the trend is also present at the UI, but said the center doesn’t keep track of statistics for students who enter public-service jobs.

“Students are interested in seeing what’s possible and nonprofits are becoming a bigger part of the whole,” said David Fitzgerald, another career adviser at the center.

Though some speculated a lack of corporate job openings is the reason for the shift, Seyfer said, it is more due to an increased amount of positions available in public-service jobs locally.

“There are just more opportunities in public service,” Fitzgerald said, noting the federal government hadn’t been hiring for several years.

And now that the professionals who were part of the baby-boom generation are retiring, there are more jobs available for recent graduates, Fitzgerald said.

He said Anstoetter’s generation has grown up with a positive idea of public service, something that’s led to an increased interest in these jobs.

For Anstoetter, she said she no longer sees her work at the Crisis Center as a job but rather an opportunity to make a difference.

“Even if I don’t work for a nonprofit in the future, I see myself volunteering at one, donating my money, my time, and helping the important causes in my community,” she said.

In addition to the crisis center, Fitzgerald said officials have seen increasing numbers of young people working for such organizations as the Peace Corps, Teach for America, UI Hospitals and Clinics, public libraries, and foreign-relations councils.

“Students want to make a difference, whether it’s in nonprofit or cooperate companies,” Fitzgerald said. “However, the most recent opportunities seem to lie within the public-service sector.”


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