The federal government shutdown derailed a federal job fair at Arapahoe Community College Oct. 8.
It was billed as “Call to Serve: Change the World,” and was supposed to feature federal-agency recruiters and live, in-person guest speaker Gina Erickson, senior policy analyst at the Department of Energy. But when 800,000 federal employees were furloughed as a result of the previous week’s shutdown, Erickson and the recruiters suddenly became unavailable.
What the dozen or so students who attended got instead was a virtual presentation by event sponsor Partnership for Public Service, “Making a Difference in the Federal Government.” Robbie Barbero, a fellow with the White House Office of Technology, described his experiences as a doctor of bioengineering working for the government.
“I wondered, what are the biggest problems in the world, and what are some of the biggest challenges?” he said. “The federal government is where I can address some of those.”
He said people have four major misconceptions about government work, with one being that bureaucracy equals nothing more than paperwork.
“You can and do make a difference as a federal employee,” he said, noting the amount of policy setting and research that goes on (unless the government is shut down). “… It has a real impact, and it’s one of the reasons our country is where it is, considered a leader in science and technology.”
Low pay and the belief that federal employees are all political scientists who live in Washington, D.C. are other myths, he said, pointing out that right here in Colorado are the Federal Center, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and various military bases that employ civilians.
According to PPS, the “Call to Serve” initiative is a joint effort with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to “educate young generations of college students about the importance of a strong civil service, help re-establish links between federal agencies and campuses, and provide students with information about federal jobs.”