By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: Administration has a chance to show what it can do on hiring reform

The Federal Career Experience Program gives agencies the ability to directly hire graduating college students who have served their internships at the hiring agency. In the world outside government, internship programs are an extremely popular route to getting hired, beneficial to students and hiring organizations alike.

For hiring organizations, it provides an invaluable opportunity to observe whether a person will do a good job as an employee, far better than interviews or other more indirect procedures. (Given the difficulties in getting rid of an employee in government after their probation period, this feature of internships is particularly valuable in a government context.) For students, it provides a chance to see if the organization is one where they want to work. The Partnership for Public Service issued a great report recently, entitled Leaving Talent on the Table: The Need to Capitalize on High-Performing Student Interns.

Unfortunately, the Partnership report notes, the private sector is much better at taking advantage of internship programs than is the government.  In firms, about half of college interns end up landing jobs at the company where they interned. Companies very specifically use internships as a way to get a look-see at potentially good employees. However, in the federal government, less than  7 percent of college interns end up at the agencies where they interned.

As I noted in this blog last week, the administration appears to be serious about reforming the hiring system. Working with agencies to make this a more robust alternative for entry-level hiring seems to fit the definition of low-hanging fruit.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Jul 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM


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