Thursday, July 13, 2006

Jobs! Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs! (Read Our New Piece at

From Po:

Curious little tidbit from our devoted aerospace engineers over at NASA. It appears that all the engineers who designed the Saturn-5 rocket have retired. And NASA has admitted it lost more than their expertise - they've actually lost the rocket booster's vital blueprints. Well, they know those plans are somewhere in a vast warehouse in Georgia, but nobody can find them. And the engineers who would know how to build another Saturn-5 have all left. The Saturn-5 is the only booster capable of getting something really big into space. So we can't go back to the moon, unless those blueprints are found.

What's this got to do with you?

Well, it's just one example that Ashley and I uncovered as we were researching our new essay for Time, "Uncle Sam Wants You." The three dozen agencies that comprise the federal government are on the verge of losing almost half their workforce over the next five years, mostly to retirement. This Brain Drain will affect just about every agency. NASA is just one example. FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina is another. It's both a major catastrophe-in-the-making and a great opportunity for anyone looking for a decent job.

When I wrote What Should I Do With My Life?, I learned that people everywhere are craving jobs where they feel they make a contribution to the world. Well, here's your chance. Please email this article to young people you know, who might never consider the federal government as a career.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great news. I may want to look into a career myself there....It is worthwhile to explore these options.....

5:27 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Okay, I'm how do I go about looking for one of these jobs?

7:50 PM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...

That's fabulous! Seriously!

I'm going to post a blog with some links / tips on a fed job search, so get your resumes ready!

9:35 AM  
Blogger Mateo said...

I was only a peace corps volunteer, but I found the federal government completely unflexible and rigid, emphasizing ideology over justice at nearly every turn.

It's a place that clearly needs dedicated individuals to change it -- by I didn't have the stomach, patience, or love.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...


I'm so sad to hear that. Particularly since Peace Corps alumni are so revered / respected in government circles.

I, too, worked in the federal government, and I found some of it really important, and some of it I absolutely hated. I think it really varies by what agency you're in, and what specific work you are doing.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Ashley here. I also worked for the federal government; my sentiments are likewise as Ashley's. I would have to say that it also depends on WHEN you worked for the federal government.

Perhaps if Mateo worked for the Peace Corps during the Clinton administration, whether or not you agree with his politics, the experiences could be different from the PC experiences after September 11, 2001 under a very different administration.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Astrophysics work takes a huge ammount of training and dedication to get into. It is very romantic and there are large numbers of smart, idealistic people who would jump at the opportunity to do that work for low pay and low status. A small number of agencies do hire in that field, but there are a lot more eager workers than hirers. Even if you love science and aren't concerned with money or status, that field is a terrible one to get into. It is notorious for embittering even the smartest and most dedicated hard workers.

It sounds nice from a distance, and talking about building spaceships is a heck of a lot more exciting than talking about writing computer software, or dealing real estate, or doing dentistry. But it's more of a fantasy job than reality.

Honestly, the job market is great right now, but cutesy daydream job positions are the wrong place to look.

7:51 AM  
Blogger MtnGrl said...

Create search agents and/or apply for federal jobs at (NOT Since 9/11 most IT jobs require that candidates have some level of security clearance now. During the rollicking 90s, federal agencies and government contractors would typically hire you, then pay for you to get one (a costly proposition). That never happens anymore.

12:30 PM  
Blogger MtnGrl said...

Create search agents and apply for federal jobs at NOT

Since 9/11, most IT jobs at federal agencies require candidates have a security clearance (a costly, exhaustive background check.) During the heydey of the 90s, most Agencies or government contractors would hire you and pay for the clearance. Never happens anymore (and it's a costly proposition.)

12:33 PM  
Blogger Ashley Merryman said...

I'd check out our other post for other job leads as well.

And I wouldn't let the security clearance application dissuade you (unless it's a precondition for application). Just to be clear, you don't have to pay for the clearance -- at least I've never heard of such a thing. I think MtnGrl just means that agencies would rather hire those who already have clearance.

But there are a lot of different levels of clearance / background checks that are done, depending on the position, agency you're applying for, etc.

Also, keep in mind that hiring practices will almost have to change as people increasingly retire: they just won't have the option. So even if something seems prohibitive today, it may not be an issue in a year or two.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous DLS said...

I've looked into government jobs, many of them sound wonderful, especially for a test engineer with an advanced degree like myself, but the process is so complex and alien compared to the private sector.

5:38 AM  

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