Student Preferences for Federal, State, and Local Government Careers: National Opportunities and Local Service

Roger Rose

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Although scholars have examined the federal government’s competition with the private sector for talented new workers, undergraduate attraction to careers in state or local government has been largely ignored. Yet, such knowledge would be valuable to educators who advise students on internships, graduate school options, or public sector job opportunities. This study explores preferences for federal, state, and local employment among a broad cross section of undergraduates with at least some interest in government work. It examines three sets of factors—altruistic service motives, perceptions of government capability, and job attributes—on respondent selection among government levels. After discussing why more students would prefer work at the federal level, it posits that two factors—higher levels of public service motivation and greater confidence in statelocal capability—will influence interest in subnational employment. Data from a major Midwestern university largely confirm these expectations. Recommendations are discussed for raising student interest through student self-assessments, internship, and service programs, with an emphasis on students who are outside majors related to public affairs.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)83-100
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Public Affairs Education
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    The author is grateful for the financial support of this research from the University of Minnesota’s GrantinAid Program.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2015, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

    Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • career attraction
    • public service motivation
    • state and local government
    • undergraduates

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