Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton grapples with federal hiring freeze

<n. 23, President Donald Trump ordered a 90-day federal hiring freeze for all federal agencies except those that deal with national security, public safety, and the military. For some Carleton students who are interested in working for the federal government, this news has raised questions and concerns about how they and their future careers will be affected.

“I just really wanted to find a summer job that would help me put my geology degree to good use, and also be in a beautiful place, and help take care of our public lands,” Mara MacDonell ’17 said.

She has been applying to federal jobs on, the site that facilitates federal hiring. The applications still show up on the site, but when she is redirected to sites of the specific agencies she is applying to (like the US Department of Agriculture), she gets a notification that says the page has been closed.

MacDonell is also looking at a federally-funded program called GeoCorps that places recent geology graduates in summer internships on public lands. There is a lack of clarity on whether or not the program is affected by the hiring freeze.

“The application is still up but it’s unclear whether those jobs are still going to be there,” MacDonell said.

Eric Tallman ’17 echoed feelings of uncertainty around the whole process. Tallman is an Economics major and is interested in jobs with the Federal Reserve. He had already applied to some positions when the executive order was signed.

“Mainly what I’ve noticed is that agencies just kind of seem confused,” Tallman said. “I talked to them right after the federal hiring freeze went into effect and a lot of them didn’t think it would impact them or said ‘Oh, it probably won’t be a big deal,’ but now later I think a lot of them are like ‘I don’t think we can hire anyone right now.’ They’re not really sure what to do, when this is going to be resolved, whether it even affects them or lot.”

Tallman said that some of the jobs he is applying for have continued to go through the whole application and interview process despite the freeze.

“I think that way when the hiring freeze is lifted they’ll be able to decide quickly and be ready,” Tallman said.

Lindsay Brandt ’17 also experienced agencies’ uncertainty about hiring. After a positive experience working at a National Park last summer, Brandt has been applying for jobs with the National Park Service and wants to become a park ranger.

Brandt heard back from one park she had applied to saying that they were going to continue going through the motions of the hiring process until they received further guidance on how the freeze would affect them.

One concern, both for Brandt and MacDonell, was how the freeze will affect seasonal employees, especially at national parks, which rely heavily on seasonal workers. In a second memorandum, on January 31, the administration clarified that the freeze would not affect the “appointment of seasonal employees and short-term temporary employees necessary to meet traditionally recurring seasonal workloads.”

Even so, the freeze itself is still concerning to Brandt.

“The hiring freeze is only temporary, but it says something about what the Trump administration’s stance is on government employees, and it does not bode well for the future of trying to work in government,” Brandt said.

As a result of this uncertainty, some students have started broadening their job search. Kyra Bornong ’17 is also a geology major and is interested in jobs with the Forest Service or U.S. Geological Survey.

“I think there is a lot out there, it’s just less well-known and more variable,” Bornong said.

MacDonell is expanding her search as well. “I’m definitely looking more towards state opportunities or private opportunities, because that’s more of a sure thing,” MacDonell said.

Tallman is drawn to jobs within the federal government because he is interested in the effects of public policy on the greater macroeconomy and feels that “a lot of the business jobs don’t fit that mold as much.” As a result of the freeze, he plans to start looking for jobs with NGOs doing work on economic policy.

The hiring freeze has caused Brandt to think about other ways she might want to pursue a career path related to serving public lands.

“How do I follow this passion…in a different way and do something potentially that could help protect the parks rather than working directly for the Park Service?” Brandt observed. 

The Career Center has been thinking about how to help students who might be affected by the freeze.

Rachel Leatham, Program Director for Internships and Experiential Learning, helps Carleton students who are applying to federal jobs. She worked for the federal government herself for fifteen years before coming to Carleton, as a Foreign Service officer and then as a civil service officer based in D.C.

“For those of us who have been in the government before, we know that these processes sometimes take time, but ultimately hiring will resume and these positions will be filled because they’re critical,” Leatham said.
Leatham is following the developments to figure out how students will be impacted. One possible effect is that the hiring process for federal jobs, which is already long, may be lengthened, according to Leatham.

“I also acknowledge [that] sometimes the hiring process may be extended, and that could cause some financial difficulty for students,” said Letham, “so they need to be thinking both immediate, in terms of doing what they need to do to pay their bills and to earn money,” as well as long-term career prospects.

Kimberly Betz ’91, Director of the Career Center, encourages students to “[make] sure you’re starting early and giving yourself lots of options.”

Leatham and Betz also want to encourage students to reach out to the Career Center if they have further questions.

“We’re happy to help people talk through the process and brainstorm additional options and talk about how they can strategically navigate this time and maybe create some more secure opportunities for themselves,” Leatham said.
Students also expressed concern for the broader impact of the Trump presidency on their fields, beyond their individual job searches.

“I’m concerned less about my personal job prospects because of this, I’m concerned more about the future of agencies like the National Park Service that are there to protect these public lands and natural and cultural resources that are so, so important to the United States and to the people in the United States,” Brandt said. “It worries me that there’s this blatant disregard for their importance.”

MacDonell echoed that sentiment. “All in all, it’s not the worst thing that’s happening…There are worse things happening that I’m more concerned about,” MacDonell said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *