'Go for .Gov': As Big Tech slashes jobs, student career network Handshake suggests applying to roles in the federal government
As Big Tech struggles with layoffs, the federal government's looking to bring Gen Z into its orbit – and they’re getting a boost from Handshake, a platform that seeks to connect students to careers
For the class of 2023, the possibility of landing a once-shiny tech job may seem like a relic of a bygone area, as the industry continues to cut employees. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Meta (to name a few) have slashed jobs in the past year, leaving soon-to-be grads wondering if their career in tech is just a pipe dream.
As Big Tech struggles with layoffs, the federal government is looking to bring more young people into its orbit – and they’re getting a boost from Handshake, a platform that seeks to connect students to career opportunities by pairing recruiting companies with interested students.
Handshake – which has a network of over 12 million active students – held an event Thursday with the Biden administration called ‘Go For .Gov’ in an effort to introduce students to federal tech pathways, highlighting opportunities for tech-savvy students such as data scientists or software engineers. The event was moderated by #GovTech content creator Symoné B., and featured Chris Kuang, co-lead of the US Digital Corps, Kira Tebbe, product manager at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and Jack Cable, senior technical advisor at the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Part of Handshake’s pitch includes statistics from the federal government showing that the government has seen a 36% uptick in tech job openings since the start of the school year. And, according to Handshake, “applications per job have increased 5x for government tech jobs on Handshake since the start of 2023.” At the same time, according to the Federal News Network and the Partnership for Public Service, 30% of government employees are expected to retire in the next two years.
From watching Thursday’s event, it seems there are in fact a number of young people curious about government tech jobs. In the Q&A section of the Zoom webinar, students asked if the government can help job applicants relocate, whether or not the US Digital Corps offers remote positions, and how to navigate the process at an entry-level – given that many of the roles list a number of advanced requirements.
Ahead of Handshake’s event this week, I chatted with Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake’s Chief Education Strategy Officer. Cruzvergara, who spent the first part of her career in career services roles at Wellesley College and, as she called it, the three George’s – George Mason University, George Washington University, and Georgetown University – said Thursday’s event was meant to help demystify the process of applying to jobs in the federal government, especially for students who may be unaware of these opportunities.
“Students have been paying attention to the news and paying attention to the layoffs, and that has rocked this class,” Cruzvergara said. “One of the big goals is for students, especially those interested in going into the tech sector, to realize they can actually do that in the federal government.”
According to Cruzvergara, Handshake did a survey to see what the Class of 2023 is looking for as they enter the workforce. The top priority for students in a post-pandemic world is stability, she said.
Making the case for why government jobs may be a good fit for this year’s soon-to-be graduates, Cruzvergara argued that government jobs are uniquely stable in comparison to other tech roles in the private sector.
She also noted that according to Handshake’s research, this is a value-based generation looking to give back – something they could achieve by working a government job.
“Their interest around so many social issues as well actually coincides with the type of impact they could have working in the federal government,” she said.
But, generally speaking, research shows that young people are skeptical about the US government. Pressed on why young people would want to work for an institution they lack trust in, Cruzvergara said that if young people don’t currently trust the system, what better way to change it than from within.
“I can understand the skepticism,” Cruzvergara said. “But if we could get 31% of the workforce in the federal government to be Gen Z, as those who are retiring move out, does that not shift things?”
Cruzvergara emphasized “what the government could look like” with more young people at its helm.
“I’m a big believer that if you have an issue, or a problem with something, you should be part of the solution to fix it. There’s no better way to do that then to go work for the government and fix it,” she said.
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A conversation with Roxy Nbedumadu, Mayor Pro Tem and District 4 Councilmember in Bowie, Maryland ✨🗳️
This week, Roxy Nbedumadu — Mayor Pro Tem and District 4 Councilmember in Bowie, Maryland — joined The Up and Up on Instagram Live to discuss how she’s encouraging more young conservative women and more young conservative women of color to run for office. Along with Run Gen Z, a group that recruits, trains, and mentors young conservatives to run for state and local office, Nbedumadu is hosting women’s roundtables focused on helping young women break down barriers to run for office.
Watch our conversation here:
👀 Check it out 👀
This week for Teen Vogue, I wrote about:
Students Against Santos, a group of young people organizing to hold embattled Republican Rep. George Santos accountable for misleading his constituents with a web of lies about his background. This weekend along with Path to Progress, Generation Ratify, and a number of drag artists, Students Against Santos is holding “Drag Santos Out of Congress,” a drag-inspired protest in the disgraced congressman’s New York district.
How creators are reacting to TikTok bans on college campuses across the US, amid national security concerns over the Chinese-owned app. When trying to open the app on campus Wi-Fi, students described seeing error messages, trouble loading pages, and “a black void.” While the bans haven’t stopped content creators from using the app, the restrictions are forcing on-campus TikTokers to adjust their habits.
A partnership between Harry Styles and gun safety organization Everytown’s Students Demand Action. In cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Austin, gun safety advocates and gun violence survivors with Students Demand Action met Styles’ fans at 44 shows.
Future stories 💡
Have an idea for what I should write about next? Please reach out or leave a comment below!