New Grads Increasingly Turning to Jobs in Service, Volunteer Sectors
The UCLA Graduate School of Education reports that two-thirds of college freshmen believe it is essential or very important to help others -- the highest figure in 25 years.
This surge in service appears indicative of the so-called Millennial Generation -- people born between 1983 and 2003 -- who have come of age as the Internet has increased access to information about communities around the world as well as service opportunities across cultural and national boundaries.
Madhav Seshadri, 21, who recently graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a major in neuroscience, rejected a job offer as a lab technician for the chance to go to Togo as a Peace Corps Health Care Extension Worker this June.
Seshadri has already participated in health care service work in India and the United States. "I've always been interested in health, rural health, and I wanted to help," he said.
He will apply to medical school from Togo, and like many students entering similar service programs, Seshadri believes that experience will expand his sense of responsibility.
"This will make me a better doctor," he added.
Steven Greenhouse, a jobs and labor reporter for the New York Times, notes that the spike in service oriented organizations appears to be a "logical response to not enough paying jobs" in the current employment climate.
"[Young people] are looking for alternatives that are good for the resume, good for society. The only thing that meets all that criteria is Peace Corps and volunteerism," Greenhouse said. "Great Wall Street jobs are not going to be here, public service is still here"
Such positions offer an "opportunity to wait out the economy for one or two years," Greenhouse added.
Part of President John F. Kennedy's vision of cross-cultural communication and call to service, the Peace Corps has also seen an increase in applications this year. Although the Peace Corps is open to all adults, the median age of participation is 25, with many members joining soon after college.