New Grads Increasingly Turning to Jobs in Service, Volunteer Sectors
Acting Press Director Laura Lartigue believes that President Kennedy's vision of service still resonates with America's current generation of young people and has been revived by President Barack Obama, a leader that they helped elect in large numbers.
Lartigue said the new president "definitely made the call to service a cause of his campaign. We also saw our online applications spike 175 percent around the time of President Obama's inauguration. This is testimony to the way many Americans have felt inspired by the new administration." President Obama has promised to double the Peace Corps by 2011 as a part of his service agenda.
A former community activist on the South Side of Chicago, Mr. Obama has asked Americans to "answer a new call to service to meet the challenges of our new century." Before his inauguration, he urged Americans to use the Martin Luther King holiday as a day of service.
Idealist.org, an online search engine for volunteer opportunities and non-profit jobs noticed an 18 percent spike in page views during the week of Obama's inauguration compared to the previous week. The total number of volunteer listings viewed went up 27 percent.
Idealist's "New Service" blog for current or former members of service organizations saw their average monthly page views double in the two months since the inauguration.
Amy Potthast, a writer for New Service, said that in many ways a term of service after graduation is becoming more acceptable to young people, especially when the idea of finding a more traditional job immediately after graduation is becoming increasingly unlikely.
AmeriCorps, a clearinghouse funder for more than 4,000 different community and faith-based groups, has seen a record-breaking 400 percent increase in applications in the past four months.
Sandy Scott, director of media relations, says that on the MLK Day of Service, "participation went off the charts in 2009 thanks to [the] president-elect's call to service and making it a centerpiece of his inauguration." An excess of one million people helped with more than 13,000 projects -- more than double last year's Day of Service turnout.