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By Brittany Smythe
BSBA Marketing ’11

With the economy still recovering, the job market for upcoming graduates falls short of ideal, yet there are great opportunities in the federal government that many business students overlook. 

This February, eight Eller student ambassadors — Bryan Baldwin, Nathan Canright, Samantha Kluth, Lisa Malecky, Sarai Portillo, Monique Rios, Diego Romero, and Michelle Vock — joined associate dean Pam Perry on a trip to Washington, D.C. to learn more about job opportunities in government agencies. They were accompanied by Shay Stautz and Rick Stilgenbauer from the University of Arizona Office of Federal Relations and UA president Robert Shelton.

“Some of the big misconceptions that I had about government work were that you should major in political science, that the pay is relatively low, and that most government jobs are in Washington, D.C.,” says finance sophomore Baldwin. These myths align closely with many Eller student opinions as students have failed to uncover the full range of opportunities supplied by federal career paths. 

“I was under the impression that the majority of jobs available in Washington were strictly related to working for politicians themselves,” says Lisa Malecky, a business management and finance senior. “I had no idea that the government offered such a vast range of job opportunities, or that these opportunities are readily available to so many different majors.”

“Unlike the private sector, government jobs offer flexible hours and better holiday/sick days,” says marketing senior Diego Rivera. “Also, many agencies pay a starting salary of $40,000, which can be doubled in a few years. I also was impressed with the job security government jobs offer. Other flexibility that was revealed by our trip is the possibility to transfer from one agency to another after a short period of time. This is a great advantage over corporate jobs because employees can transfer salary rates, benefits, and even vacation time.”

The trip consisted of two days of visits, tours, and guest speakers with governmental agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Smithsonian Institution, Partnership for Public Service, the Washington Center, Arizona Senator John Kyl, the White House, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and former U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe (Arizona). In meeting with different representatives, students learned about internships and employment benefits and heard personal stories that connect government work with creativity and passion.

“While going to D.C. to meet with agency representatives was the main impetus for the trip, I think on a secondary level we went to experience first-hand what it would be like as Eller graduates to begin a career in this historically rich and bustling part of the country,” says finance and entrepreneurship senior Nathan Canright.

“In nearly every agency we visited, managers ensured us that the work the interns complete is relevant and meaningful to projects, events, and tasks within the agency,” says pre-business freshman Michelle Vock. “We also discovered that there are many programs in the federal government that pay back outstanding student loans, which I found to be particularly interesting.”

The students are currently collaborating on a plan to share the information they gathered on their trip and educate other Eller students about federal employment opportunities. 

“We hope to get the information out to students via in-class announcements, workshops, webinars, and a website (currently under construction); however, we would love to hear from students about how they would like to learn about our experience, so we welcome any other suggestions that they may have,” says marketing junior Monique Rios.