...It’s early, but based on graduate school applications this spring, enrollment in undergraduate courses, preliminary job-placement results at schools, and the anecdotal accounts of students and professors, a new pattern of occupational choice seems to be emerging. Public service, government, the sciences and even teaching look to be winners, while fewer shiny, young minds are embarking on careers in finance and business consulting.
...Graduate schools of government and public policy are seeing a surge of applications. In a survey of its members released last week, the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration found that 82 percent reported an increase in applications this year, and many saw the largest percentage jumps in several years, or ever. The most-cited reason was the expectation by students that government will be hiring.
Still, the appeal of public sector careers extends beyond job openings, say school officials. The laissez-faire presumption that government is not the solution but the problem, dating back to the Reagan era, has been cast aside, they say.
The government’s need to step in with financial bailouts and recovery programs to steady the economy is seen as the immediate proof, they say, but not the only one. The environment, energy and health care also pose huge, complex challenges. “Young people today understand that government has a powerful role to play in solving these problems,” said Sandra Archibald, dean of the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, where applications this year are up 26 percent.