The ultimate purpose of undertaking any Call to Serve activity is to increase awareness and interest in government opportunities, and to actually connect more students with federal internships and jobs.
College students are bombarded with messages and materials on everything from credit card offers to career advice. When it comes to catching the attention of busy students, the Partnership found a few key important lessons through the Call to Serve Recruitment Initiative experiences that seem to resonate broadly across campuses. They were supported by the Partnership for Public Service’s survey of over 3,000 students conducted in the fall of 2005.
Educating students about the importance of federal service can easily be a year-round campaign, but concentrating efforts during the interval when most students are thinking about internships and jobs — typically late fall through early winter — is logical starting place.
The breadth of internship opportunities is a double-edged sword. It is helpful to know the government offers internships in practically any field with offices in every major metropolitan area. However, the decentralized nature can also make the search overwhelming. The Partnership offers two tools to help you inform students about internship opportunities: a database of over 100 internships that can serve as a good starting point, and a handout that describes the basics of federal student programs and how to find them. In addition, below are links to additional tools that can be helpful in reaching students — a compilation of discipline-specific handouts as well as an evaluation form to help you gauge the impact of your activities.
It may be hard to know which specific outreach activities will work best for students on your campus, but following the principles outlined above can go a long way. At Clark Atlanta University, they found incentives such as pizza and give-aways were effective in getting student attention. At George Washington University, students responded to the patriotic and professional branding of Call to Serve, which was less resonant on some pilot campuses. Look at each of the case studies for our pilot schools to see how each school found what worked for their campus.
Student leaders are a natural place to start when it comes to informing students about opportunities in federal service. They are both a target group because of their leadership qualities and because of their influential role in shaping the opinions of their peers.
Younger students are interested in internships, but are often overlooked in traditional career fairs. The federal government has a wealth of student opportunities available across disciplines and agencies. Most agencies offer both paid and unpaid internships, during the school year or during breaks in the summer, winter and spring. As with any possible career path, federal internships serve as a window into the possibilities, but can also lead to actual jobs. Be sure not to overlook younger students on campus when you conduct outreach.
The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.