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Old 05-14-2009, 09:14 AM
 
1,623 posts, read 4,323,397 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike From NIU View Post
Another pro about working for the government is that they have student loan repayment options. You can receive up to $10k/year and $60k/lifetime to pay off federal student loans. From someone who finished grad school last year, that money is going to come in very handy.

Good point about that, but any applicant really needs to find out the inside scoop about the program from people who work in those agencies. When I work in the government, 100% who applied got it. My friends at other agencies said so no one ever got it. At one point, the State Dept. only offered it to those willing to go to Iraq or some equally unappealing place. If you read the websites, it always looked like it was easy to get, but that didn't reflect how things really worked.
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:33 AM
 
734 posts, read 1,728,572 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slim04 View Post
Good point about that, but any applicant really needs to find out the inside scoop about the program from people who work in those agencies. When I work in the government, 100% who applied got it. My friends at other agencies said so no one ever got it. At one point, the State Dept. only offered it to those willing to go to Iraq or some equally unappealing place. If you read the websites, it always looked like it was easy to get, but that didn't reflect how things really worked.
True, points. At my agency, they have been slowly increasing the amount people actually receive. This year, the base will be $5500 and $8500 for those in certain positions, not really $10k. However, it is given pretty liberally to people who apply.

Overall, several people have made very good observations regarding public/private sector differences on this thread. I think the OP and any others debating this point will be well-served.
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Old 05-14-2009, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Central Maine
4,687 posts, read 5,519,319 times
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The big "pro" in my opinion would not apply to people joining the federal workforce today - the ability to retire at age 55. When I first started working for Uncle Sam, the only retirement system was the Civil Service Retirement System. I declined the "opportunity" to switch to the Federal Employees Retirement System, the system in place for new employees for the last 20+ years.

Since I was in CSRS, I was able to retire at 55 with 35 years of federal service (some military, some unused sick leave, and a lot of years on the job). My annual annuity is over $50K ... and when combined with my wife's CSRS annuity, we're very close to six figures. To me, that's a helluva good deal.

There's a ton of information about FERS on OPM's FERS Retirement website.
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Old 05-14-2009, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Brambleton, VA
2,136 posts, read 4,634,865 times
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One other thing I forgot to mention - despite the perception that government work means less money than private sector, I actually got a huge pay raise when I started my Federal job. It was just after the dotcom bust, and my employer hadn't given us any raises or bonuses in years. My salary going in was more than I had been making, and then the annual COLA plus time-in-grade steps really helped boost it. Sure, no stock options or anything like that - but my stock options at WorldBOMB were never worth anything anyway.
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Old 05-14-2009, 12:18 PM
 
84 posts, read 180,145 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike From NIU View Post
Samarra,

I'm glad you have a good situation; however, that is rarer for Fortune 500 companies than for the government. For finance/accounting positions, 40 hrs/wk is very rare. One tax firm I interviewed with bragged about how they had a woman who was near-partner who worked part-time, only ~35 hours per week. Many are becoming more sensitive to working single parents, but that varies greatly. The Feds, on the other hand, are pretty good about a 40-45hr/week limit.

Another pro about working for the government is that they have student loan repayment options. You can receive up to $10k/year and $60k/lifetime to pay off federal student loans. From someone who finished grad school last year, that money is going to come in very handy.

Finally, in regards to opportunities for advancement, a huge percentage of the US govt's skilled work-force is eligible to retire in the next 5-10 years (check OPM's website for some reports; I don't remember the stats off the top of my head). There will be plenty of opportunities for younger workers to climb the ladder quickly should you have the desire and talent.
Mike, you're right - I've always worked 60+ hours in finance. The agency already approved me for 10K/year for student loan repayment. I just want to make sure that I have opportunities for growth
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Old 05-14-2009, 12:24 PM
 
385 posts, read 1,108,560 times
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The government uses quotas, when hiring and promoting. So that is good or bad, depending on your race/gender.

I remember my brother telling about his first day as a Summer hire at Cameron Station. He was greeted by a big sign that said "BIG Meeting--Today, 16:00." So he asked them about the BIG meeting; and was laughed at. Do you think the Federal Government would tolerate a group called WIG? I doubt it.

Last edited by horseplayer; 05-14-2009 at 12:35 PM..
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:21 PM
 
Location: DC
3,286 posts, read 10,567,747 times
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Like other people have said, it'll depend on the particular agency and firm you're considering. I work for the government in economics and couldn't be happier. My job is secure (and we're still hiring), I've gotten steady pay increases, great benefits, they're paying for my grad school courses as "training", laid-back atmosphere, very little stress, and excellent work-life balance. I work very little overtime, but get compensated when I do, and have no problem requesting leave for vacations. In contrast, my roommate works for an economic/finance consulting firm. She averages about 50-55 hours a week, but often works closer to 70 (she's not compensated for overtime since her contract pays her to work "at least" 40 hours a week). If work slows down (which it does from time to time), she freaks out because she may not have enough billable hours to keep her job or get a promotion. She made a lot more money initially, but it's actually starting to inch closer to mine because they froze all raises and bonuses. The general environment in general is also far more stressful. Now there's the whole economy thing on top of it all. Her office brings in money, but others don't, so they laid off a bunch of staff a few weeks ago. It also doesn't help that many of their big clients (banks) don't exist anymore, so getting new business is harder. Despite the fact that she hates her job, she's never been happier to still be there after the layoffs.

After just watching her, I'm happy in the government. She's actually looking for government jobs now. Not all firms are this way, but it's definitely something to try and figure out. For me, the extra money's just not worth the stress and time.
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Old 05-14-2009, 02:06 PM
 
10,596 posts, read 12,088,527 times
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I just transitioned from 20 years in the private sector to the government--doing the same thing that I've always done. I was on a contract that was a services (support) contract. I found it very frustrating as a contractor because, even though I had advanced in my field, as a contractor I held almost no responsibility. I couldn't run a program the way I wanted, I couldn't make decisions, etc. I just had to do what I was told and hopefully I was working for someone sane.

I finally went to the government because I wanted to be more involved in the decision/policy making process. I've been in the government for 18 months and I am extremely happy. I have better benefits but I will say that I work harder as a civil servant than a contractor but I wanted that.

I will say that in the government there is a great deal of "dead wood" and they cannot get rid of it. That type of person may be in your office or working on a project with you and that can be very frustrating. Not a darn thing you can do about it either. I found very little of that in the private sector. If a problem employee or non-performer made it in, they didn't stay very long.

It really will come down to the the agency you will be working for and the private firm you will be with. In my case, the private company could not offer me as much challenge/responsibility as the government could but I know this is not true in all cases.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:08 AM
 
65 posts, read 340,296 times
Reputation: 62
I have to chime in about Gov't work...

I actually love my job and my hours. As a graphic designer I get paid pretty well (tripled what I made as a contractor in the same position for the Dept of State) with fewer "must finish in 24 hours" deadlines, which got dumped on lower paid contractors because they knew they could work long after the day was done for far less money. And now I get 1 or 2 days a week working from home which my corporate position would never allow.

The tempo of my work very rarely kicks up to a fevered pitch. And because my work hours are rock solid I have the ability to easily schedule plenty of non-work activities, and my job (which I love) doesn't end up defining me. In other words I have a career that's not all consuming.

I also don't miss the contract review process where everyone held their breath for the government decision to renew or drop the contract. They actually switched over some of the contractors at my old job to equivalent gov't positions, but since they paid them so low to begin with the positions ended up being GS-9 positions when other agencies are paying GS-11/12 . Sure, it was still a significant pay raise for them but it's still low in comparison for designers who do the same type of work in the private sector or for other agencies. In all fairness to the job, I have to admit I LOVED... I mean LOOOOVED the "juice" of working on sensitive projects that were actually important on a global diplomatic level. But telecommuting now-a-days is nice to.

Last edited by DustyButt; 05-16-2009 at 10:21 AM..
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Old 05-16-2009, 01:03 PM
 
110 posts, read 233,073 times
Reputation: 46
Question for those of you who work for the government... how easy is it to switch to different positions (be it in the same agency or different one) once you're in the system, assuming you're looking at similar jobs to what you currently have (i.e. not changing careers entirely)?
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