Federal Government panel discussion gives advice on working for federal agencies

Peace Corps Panel by Zach Downing
By Zack Downing, Staff Writer

Every student on campus hopes to come out of graduation with a lucrative and enjoyable career that they can settle into. Whereas most people’s dream goals involve arts, entertainment or sports, not a lot of students have governmental positions at the top of their list.

A panel was held on Thursday, March 8, to raise awareness and enthusiasm for some of the unsung positions in the federal government. Officials including a Peace Corps member, a US Department of Health & Human Services agent, and an IRS criminal investigator staffed the panel to answer questions and provide information about their fields.

The keynote speaker for the afternoon was Kimberly E. Klaskin, the Executive Director of the Greater Boston Federal Executive Board. She serves a board of 230 federal organizations working to collaborate and develop employees.

Her speech discussed the fact that attaining positions in government is easier and more accessible than one might think, and it’s well worth the pay and benefits.

“The advice I usually give,” said Klaskin, “is that the federal government may not call it the same thing as it’s called generally in the private sector, but with a little bit of research you’ll be able to identify what works for you… If you delve into the job descriptions, you’ll see that communications specialist at the DOA may pretty much be a graphic designer, for example.”

Another piece of advice she discussed was networking: talking to anyone and everyone to find opportunities. She attested that she got her job in the EPA through meeting someone at the doctor’s office, and that she herself gave someone a job she talked to on the subway.

She also noted that Massachusetts has about 25,000 governmental employees, far more than any state in New England. Maine is the next closest, surprisingly, because of the border workers that situate themselves next to Canada.

Lastly, she made sure to include a reminder that smoking marijuana is still a federal crime, and that it can break an otherwise worthy candidate for a top governmental position.

Afterwards, focus turned to the panel of government officials who shared their experiences and advice for the audience.

“Even if you can’t get a job as a federal agent,” said Matthew Amsden, who himself is a special agent for the IRS, “get any type of federal job. There are announcements that come out for federal positions that you can only apply for if you’re a current federal employee. That’s one of the advantages to working in the government.”

Some panelists gave advice specific to their field, as did Maximilian Greatshell, Peace Corps recruiter.

“If you feel like you aren’t at a place in your life where you have that kind of experience, to join the Peace Corps,” he said, “a good first step to that is getting involved in volunteering.”

The benefits of working in a government job are more than respectable, and the different avenues one could take are vast.

The most valuable resource the panelists recommended was visiting USAjobs.gov, a website that lists as many open government positions as you could need. If you’re unsure about your future, visit the site; you might be surprised at what you find.

Photo Courtesy: Zack Downing

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