We are, without a doubt, heading closer toward a generational transition in government. Surveys have shown that federal jobs are becoming more popular among millennials because they feel it is the best way to give back to the community, but many turn away from the option as they realize the implicated restraints of some positions. Children are turning into full-fledged adults, which is a basic biological step that happens rather quickly, but for the first time these “kids” grew up with a history of internet activity. Adolescents do what they can to receive attention on the internet at an age where they don’t know how to fit in, there is a constant stream of complaining as they move on through the education system, and they document activities that may seem “cool” at the time, flaunting it to the world on social media. The case in point is that those currently in government were young at one time, believe it or not, but these experiences were all done as face-to-face interactions without thinking twice about it coming back to haunt them.
The answer to the question about what undergrads worry about when they decide they want to follow a governmental career path, a lot of the time, is rooted in their internet baggage. This worry will only deepen with advances in technology, especially if privacy laws cannot keep up with the dissemination of personal information.
Quality graduates who may provide deep value to governmental positions may be intimated by the security clearance process, especially due to growing up within a social media-driven society which is partially outside their control. Accounts are saturated with things they have said, done, and been involved with, and they don’t know what their 14-year-old self might have said, or when their college days got the best of them. The realization that some things just don’t belong on the internet does not always register at the right time. We see this trend currently with technical talent within the government, who are unwilling to sit for Full Scope Polygraphs (FSP) due to their hesitancy in exposing intimate details they deem are unimportant to the core issue of being technically qualified enough to perform valuable, sensitive work for our government, such as sexual behavior or music preference. Software developers and systems engineers are in high demand, however the lack of competitive salary and opaque clearance process leads many to pursue commercial jobs over important federal work.
Not landing a job is the first worry for undergrads– student debt will drown them if they are not successful, now more than ever. This new realm of the hiring process scares undergrads and Big Data makes it worse, with vast amounts of data being stored in cloud. The reputation of one person does not always fall in their own hands, either. Any friend can post an embarrassing or controversial video of someone else and it will show up with simple web scraping—extracting data from open-source websites. For a careless post to jeopardize the possibility of landing a government career, whether that be during the security clearance process or simply the hiring process, is extremely unfortunate and might seem unfair. The trend of increasing transparency continues to increase as most people post their lives online.
Praescient employees work closely with open-source information, and can speak to the importance of online awareness and best-practices. Educating younger generations on what they should be careful about is something that Praescient values, while acknowledging the worth of self-expression. Our internship program opens college students’ eyes to the vast amount of data that is out there, what should be worrisome, and what is not “the end of the world.”